Gavin none of it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But enough about the Democratic Party.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mona, a girl who shoulda gotten an A, at C

Chinua Achebe declined to write stories based on his decades in the West. Westerners already had enough storytellers, he said. He insisted on focusing not just on what he knew, but on what he knew had gone untold.

“Mona At Sea” is one of the stories Achebe had in mind. Another rich college girl is having her quarter-life crisis, and we get to read about it. Cool.

But why wouldn’t we? Who reads? Who writes? Why must the corpus of torrid, gutwrenchingly dysfunctional sexual affairs always chronicle the troubles of tweedy nerds strolling the ivied halls for intellectually curious mentees living in their sexual prime? Are humanities dorks gazing leering across the veal pen at the young things the only ones seeking and achieving such rejuvenation? Do petroleum engineers and bus drivers and public benefits claimants who mostly hang out in the neighborhood playing video games and doing some light babysitting also have affairs? Of course. What they don’t do is write. When they do write, they probably have more interesting stories to commit to paper anyway.

That’s how we get Franzen. “Ugh, he’s the person everyone wishes had died instead of David Foster Wallace.” I haven’t fictionalized the Cousin Gigolo story. “Romans-a-clef are lazy and dishonorable. They’re cheap shortcuts.” Who gives a shit? I’m too busy with nonfiction; that’s all. I don’t give a shit about the high ethics of this craft, and neither did the ancients, they of the classics. This is modernist nerd shit, the stuff of bored Victorian scolds. Vicky didn’t bang after Al died of shitwater, but the rest of them sure did. Oh, Archbishop. Fancy seeing you in the hallway this evening. Yes, I suppose I should give the Earl’s wife a rest, perhaps have a gin and tonic while she recovers.

No, I’m not planning to do the reading. It’s okay. The reviewer don’t always do the reading, either. “Mona at Sea” is of a canon many of us already know. Why else would it get dedicated segments on NPR? There is, to the best of my knowledge, no rude ditty by the title of “Bang, bang, Lourdes.” She’s forsaking her Christian name on a national news broadcast, hon. What’s going on here, hon. Sure, a girl might not have had legs for days in decades if you hire her in Lexington Market, but at least she won’t try NLP bullshit on you, hon.

Ah, an overachiever wannabe girlboss who acts like she knows what she wants in a career suddenly can’t have one because there’s no economy and we’re all idiotic enough to imagine Mocha Haole will fix it, and now she’s Online and frustrated. Gotcha. There’s a swollen population of unemployed young people with college degrees and mood disorders, and this style of literature is proliferating. Tell me something I don’t know, or don’t. We get the literature we buy. We get the literature we deserve. Something like that. Hell if I know. The parents want to know why their adult kids are so fucked up, too.

I described Mona as a rich girl, but I should specify. She isn’t hang out around the family compound doing this and that and go WASP diffident on anyone who disses her for it rich. She’s rich enough to have a reserved spot in her childhood bedroom. As Charles Carreon carried on, you don’t mess with the man from Tucson. Apparently you do mess with the woman from Tucson, if she isn’t the one suing the Ashland city government for booting her personal blog full of photoshopped pictures of Kathleen Parker sucking George W. Bush’s cock from the fiber network. We might say Mona is the real deepfake here. She’s the one who considers it her due to be living independently in New York and slaying in finance. That’s why it’s so humiliating for her to have her cheese moved on arrival in Manhattan and have to move back home to the provinces. Nothing happens in Tucson.

She isn’t exactly rich, then. She’s merely affluent. She’s mere upper-middle, not upper. A rich girl in her spot would be living in a nice apartment in a nice–maybe even up-and-coming!–neighborhood in New York on her parents’ dime and working, perhaps, in a job her parents bought for her. Or she’d be in the guest house, or hanging around the family camp up north, something of that nature. If she were old money–real money–she wouldn’t be distraught about any of that shit. She’d be like, eh, job market looks shitty and I’m bored, wanna go sailing?

Fuckups from truly rich families aren’t the ones who get hot and bothered about being failures. They have to have serious psychological difficulties or come from truly toxic families to end up like Mona. That shit’s for their subalterns, the strivers always serving them and so rarely managing to join their ranks, neurotics who are never satisfied that they’ve arrived even when they have. And yeah, some of it is just a #mindset; I’ve known people who prove it; but the hard cases skew upper middle, and they skew hard. They start showing up in families that are barely too poor to have anyone living comfortably off the portfolio yields. Just as importantly, though, they quickly vanish as the graph moves left into the fat middle, past the threshold where the only way to get a stockbroker is through one’s parents, as a legacy client. Whaddup homies.

Characters like Mona aren’t necessarily stereotypes, but they are inevitably archetypes. They have to fit into a narrow mold.

This may be TMI, and not just salaciously, but it’s worth sketching out the archetype in graphic detail. These are very specific characters. They’re specific because they’re crafted to appeal to a very specific audience with specific neuroses and terrors and NPR affiliate memberships.

They are not ones to imagine no more reading, especially after they semivoluntarily go hikikomori and have the time to read. All the fucking time in the world; grab your glasses, Bemis. We might say that our old boy Chapman “hit the mark,” in the University of Hawai Library and again in Manhattan. We whacked da limey, yeah? We just couldn’t figure out how to do the reading aloha-like. Dat’s da problematic kine, da kine ya write down, da kine da haole teach to teach da bible to da local kine.

What girls like Mona never expect to be able to do is the fun reading. They have the glasses–eh, the contacts–but they don’t have the time. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl indeed.

But she can’t be dull. She needs to be sharp. She’ll fall through the cracks if she loses her edge. She’ll be ruined. At all times she needs to be on point. I’m Tom Assbrush.

That’s something else. It do not be nearly enough like that, as they say online, problematically. For these cases as much as any, college is not libertine. It is not Rabelaisian or Bohemian or in any other way relaxed. It could be a place of sexual fluidity and discovery, chaotic and messy but stabilized by a highly functioning community. For some students it is. For students like Mona, it’s nothing of the sort. It isn’t even a catalytic environment of any sort. Cast aside all sexual and matchmaking functions, and it’s still a spiritual and intellectual wasteland. Striver kids like Mona aren’t there to make friends, as television teaches us to be our reality, or to learn to think. They’re there to learn how to make money. Mona’s attempt to break straight into high finance in a center of the global financial system is the key point here. I knew enough business majors to know this. Marketing and communications majors are just as shallow, and also dumber.

We can easily pigeonhole Mona’s psychological type. She’s a Type A who bottles her feelings up until the dam bursts and they spill where they will. In her case, they flood out in dramatically, in full public view. A review on GoodReads mentions a drinking problem. Color me shocked, Kwesi. If you’ve been around elite college kids, you’ll recognize the unacknowledged, unconfronted dysregulation. You’ll recognize the unmentionable, haphazardly treated mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse problems. This shit’s classic.

We’re dealing with people whose attitudes towards the human body and mind are truly deranged. They verge, quite crassly, on gnosticism, the body being filthy and in need of subjugation, and since we’re on the subject the mind as well. lt’s a fascist mindset, albeit one focused on mental rather than physical athletics. These are intensely intimidated young people, adult dependents whose parents pay for them to be hazed for four years in the hope that the kids will graduate into a career track where they get paid to complete additional hazing rituals until their pledgmasters are satisfied or just bored. One of the precipitating events turning Mona’s life into a crisis after graduation is her suddenly being denied her due opportunity to prove herself in a paid hazing program.

It’s Parris Island for con artists. The job she was offered and then denied because the employer offering it abruptly closed was of the sort that never has professional qualifications. It isn’t dentistry or the law. She’d need more professional training to be a CNA or a hairdresser.

The big firms could hire whizzes straight off the street to work their portfolios if they wanted. They choose to hire hungry kids fresh out of college. It’s about class perpetuation as much as business. I could figure out market analysis pretty quickly. I know quite a bit about commodities and some types of stocks. I know a lot about the operations and markets of a variety of companies.

What I’m not about to do is live like a goddamn crackhead. That’s the problem. I’d leave for lunch and keep walking. They hire kids who’d sooner commit suicide or defenestrate in an amphetamine fugue. I’d answer my cell and tell them the report’s their problem now. The hustlers they hire will never let go of their sense of duty. Duty to what? They don’t care. They’ll never care. It doesn’t occur to them that maybe the analysis of brain-fried 25-year-olds shouldn’t be a critical factor in a $10m short of the Brazilian corn market or whatever the hell they think makes sense as an economy.

These kids have to conform to a very specific, very narrow type. If they deviate they won’t get hired. Maybe if they’re honest-to-God whizzes they would, or if they know people, or if they’re charming enough to compensate, but it’s striking how many of them are slender, often to the point of looking like they have eating disorders. They’re all on drugs, of course. They’re obsequious neurotics who miscalibrate their speedballs and fly off the handle. After hours they’re absolute wrecks.

They’re trained for this shit starting in high school, if not preschool. They need perfect GPA’s. They need extracurriculars. They need compelling personal narratives. There’s no time to slack off, to be children, to be adolescents. They’ll be ruined if they try.

This is why they converge on the same eerily sick physical and psychological profile. The ladies have to be slim. The gents have the latitude to be buff, but not generally husky. The bosses would rather not have anyone, of either or any sex, looking like a roustabout who pulls crab pots all day and eats like a longshoreman. The idea is that these eager young things can find the money for dentists, dermatologists, gym memberships, dietary supplements, and whatever else they need to look great when they eat and live for shit.

The college girl who’s going places needs to be daintily pushy. She doesn’t have to smell clean as an escort, but she needs to smell good, and under no circumstances ethnic or poor. Liquor breath or a postgame sheen are fine. Smelling like months of Top Ramen, cigarettes, and hidden corners of weekly motel rooms is not. She needs just enough time to go to the bathroom, but not a minute more, unless it’s to break down in tears over shit a reasonable, assertive person wouldn’t tolerate in the first place. Her stools can look as awful as her gut feels, but she can’t have gas that won’t wait for a toilet.

She should sexualize herself for the gratification of her bosses, but not do anything coarsely womanly like mention her period or accidentally show it. It’s probably no accident that there’s been so much overwrought discourse about menstruation in middle-highbrow circles recently. Like any other bodily fluid or gas, menstrual blood is more noticeable on a white-collar clean freak than on a woman who’s been mucking livestock stalls. Oh, did I bleed through my pants? I’ll keep that in mind when I hose off the pigshit. Fewer and fewer affluent Americans under thirty have ever changed a baby’s diaper.

There’s a very real, very bad trend back towards companies asserting ownership of their employees’ bodies. Amazon basically won’t allow its employees bathroom breaks. Jim Beam asked its employees to report their periods to help it monitor time theft in the bathrooms. It’s been harder and harder to find public restrooms over the past few decades, a situation that suddenly got much worse with the Covid-19 shutdowns. Thankfully, this much is finally starting to reverse in earnest. On the other hand, public schools have been forcing this extreme bodily discipline on their students for centuries. This applies in Britain, too. *Under the Eton Privy voice* There may not be a bottom below, chap, but there’s always a bottom above!

Despite their obnoxiousness and intermittent misandry, feminist loudmouths have a point about the objecification and possession of women’s bodies. The Dallas Cowboys got into trouble for bullying and demeaning their cheerleaders–who are obscenely underpaid, by the way–with lectures about things like portion control at meals and how often they should change their tampons. These assholes hired women to be crack performative athletes, and they act like they’ve made it into their twenties unable to properly attend to their own personal hygiene. The problems here go beyond bad bosses. We shouldn’t have people who think like that in positions of power, period.

Heh. Look on the bright side, though. *Yogi Berra Patriotism Voice* Only in America can a fat Jewish truck stop hooker from Salt Lake City sing the National Anthem in a Major League ballpark.

It’s extremely neoliberal idpol to focus on menstruation as a burden in a society with pervasive, extreme fatigue and mental illness. How much of the problem is premenstrual or menstrual pain, and how much of it is delirious fatigue and Ford Stomach in inexcusably harsh academic and corporate environments?

On second thot, tho, that’s more a faildaughter vealpen thing than a girlboss thing. The Business Success Girls (and Guys!) are too busy climbing the greasy pole to give much mind to any of that. For the failspawn, it’s a transference of serious failures of neoliberal Western society onto sexualized grievances conferring extra idpol points. On the serious career track, it’s an unacceptable admission of weakness. A woman can’t admit to being tired for any other reason, either.

This shit might be excusable if it were ordered towards motherhood. Raising children is exhausting, and childrearing duties usually get dumped on women. If my ex is reading this, I’m eager to do my part to change this again, but for real, raising kids is no joke, especially for anyone trying to equal her as a mother. The thing is, if aggro college girls were trying to train for motherhood, they’d have kids already. They wouldn’t be waiting until their mid-thirties to fob one or two brats onto a Guatemalan nanny so they can go back to Goldman Sachs two months postpartum to express breast milk in a special stall.

We’re just about back to wet nurses in this country. You and me, baby, unfortunately, ain’t nothing but mammals.

This whole system is obviously broken. The writing about the corporate agenda for the white-collar workforce was on the wall by the time Clinton was elected; for the blue-collar workforce, Reagan wrote it in boldface starting on day one. The bosses kept throwing enough scraps into the pit to keep the office drones mostly in line until the 2008 crash. They spent the next decade and change fucking around and kinda sorta finding out. Then the Rona hit. They inside-traded the shit out of the pandemic and the restrictions it triggered, and they’ve pretty successfully turned public opinion against laid-off service workers who want to stay on unemployment benefits, but they’ve blown it with their cube monkeys. No one wants to come back to the office. Employers are facing mass resignations for forcing employees to return to the office full-time.

Good.

This is the arrangement Elizabeth Gonzalez James has Mona begging to join. It’s garbage, but college trained us to chase garbage. Those of us who refuse suffer for our refusal. Those who comply suffer in different ways. Most of this suffering is needless. It’s destructive and parasitic. Everybody’s just trying to justify taking a bigger slice of a possibly growing but also possibly shrinking pie. That’s all high finance is.

Occupy Wall Street comes in for criticism, rightly enough, for being the sour grapes of young people who would have demanded their own jobs on Wall Street if they’d discerned a chance in hell of being chosen from the midst of the scrum. From the perspective of figuring out who the hell is actually trying to run this joint instead of looting it, critics like Partial Objects were right. From the perspective of what the graduating classes of, say, 2007 onward were promised and not delivered, desperate strivers like Mona are entirely in the right. What kind of whipped little bitch would allow moneyed authority figures to promise and then revoke opportunities to make a killing busting ass for the machine, instead plunging the educated young into unemployment, underemployment, even precarity, even poverty? Surely that demands loud, explicit pushback.

That’s no time to let Larry Summers off the hook. His ilk should reap what they sowed. They sowed mass dispossession of the educated. Historically, the harvest that yields is revolution.

Contra the scurrilous implications of America’s legion Dignity of Work scolds, a great many Americans would do productive work if they got the chance or have the chance and do exactly that. We often don’t see counterfactual happen in the wild, because America runs not on Dunkin, but on coercion. If extended unemployment isn’t axed, who will be willing to work at Applebee’s? We’re trying to run a business here! We’re trying to run an economy! I dunno. Maybe try not groping $2.13-an-hour teenyboppers in the walk-in freezer for a while. See what happens then. Notice, too, that we’re running low on the local kids who historically staff the restaurant industry because of exactly the set of incentives that allowed the restaurant industry to become so bloated in the first place, i.e., ordering the national economy to the proliferation of one-child-policy yuppies.

This is the future conservatives want, too, especially Never Trump conservatives. Sic, mostly. The same people who get up and yell about soft whiners and their avocado toast take every opportunity to deputize volunteer programs as arms of the state, on the theory that forcing the unemployed to work or volunteer (hey, asshole, could you give me the dignity of saying that I work?) will forcibly build character in the otherwise restive poor. One thing this definitely accomplishes is turning volunteer programs into strange attractors for the worst sorts of beancounters and busybodies, repelling good people who mind their own business enough to actually get shit done.

The way this country is structured and run, it’s impossible to piece together a national labor budget. It’s impossible to figure out how many billions of hours of work a day or year it actually takes to run this fucking joint. It can be impossible to come up with a county-level labor budget. This is before we even try to figure out how much extra work we’d have to do if we made our own shit instead of importing it all from China and Bangladesh. Maybe that’d inspire us to buy less shit.

For the same reasons, it’s impossible to come up with a budget for how much of the work, or “work,” we do as a nation is bullshit. How can we fault Mona for wanting to milk this beast dry? It’s hard to get by these days without pulling that titty, and it’s a hard titty to pull. You won’t have the energy to crank it and yank it if you think about how the hell there’s a drop left in the udder. That’s for Mexicans and Chinamen.

*****

There’s some darkly amusing meta to the literary enterprise that produces works like “Mona at Sea.” We discussed the rich versus the truly rich earlier. Too much leisure can be toxic. This is something American voters and officials might want to consider before setting the same dogshit employment policy as ever. In any event, the true upper class is much more comfortable with leisure than the upper middle class, and it shows. Actual abundance is the best way to develop a mindset of abundance, not that Stephen Covey would know this as the grandson of charter members of the LDS Church and all that. Decent scions of families like his are no-names, not A-List self-help authors who grift the VA with their training seminar materials.

Upper-middles are scared to death that they’ll collapse into ruin if they ever stop running. That’s one of the things that horrifies and scandalizes them about their unemployed Millennial children and peers. We show them show them some of their alternatiive life paths, paths they might have taken if they weren’t balls-to-the-wall hustlers who punch down at every opportunity, paths they even still might take to make room for decent people who just can’t compete with them. I don’t know what our hikikomori are getting out of their anime habits. Maybe it includes an understanding of why so many salarymen raised hikikomori back in the bukkake motherland.

One of the cultural effects of upper middle class striver neurosis is discomfort with storylines that don’t involve some kind of apocalyptic quest. Their literature can’t be one of comfortable stasis in life, or merely entertaining stasis. The postmodern canon has no room for authors like Faulkner. Americans today can’t cope with fiction mostly bereft of sex, grand adventures, grand quests, and rites of passage. We can’t process characters who are drawn as object lessons, not role models. We’ve been raised not to understand any of this shit.

Conservatives like to critique sexualized literature as coarsening. It’s reasonable enough to read “I Am Charlotte Simmons” as a lengthy anti-sex bildungsroman, full as it is of shambolic characters who are sexually active and miserable. Tom Wolfe, another great of the Southern Canon, was too hypomanic to keep it in a fellow’s pants himself. There we have it. Sex–which, as the discography of Soulja Boy and Robin Thicke shows, we aren’t particularly having–gives a quick and dirty dopamine hit, not the kind of maintenance dose Faulkner administers with his collection of schizoids and paranoiacs and so forth. That Swedish beefcake in “Snow Falling On Cedars” gets to nut in his white wife in the shower after work while her Japanese ex-boyfriend goes on trial for murder, in a story surprisingly free of suicide for the maritime side of Washington State. Real smart collection of ethnics they propagated up there, huh. The author went on to win a bad sex writing award in absentia for a retelling of Oedipus Rex, conferred upon him in the name of “David Guterous.”

Is sex what’s wrong with bad literature, then? I wish that were it. It isn’t what’s wrong with Harry Potter. The Potterverse doesn’t have any, if I understand it correctly. For a generation and a class so focused on status and purged of sensuality, that sounds about right, flying around on broom adventures for clout while the Cockneys dutifully run the physical plant. The UK doesn’t account for its actual economy, either. As financial hubs go, London is arguably even worse than New York. The Potterverse is Downton Abbey for twerps with an excessive interest in ersatz paranormal phenomena. The biggest problem with these cases is that they’re given white-collar jobs.

I’d rather bust in some dude’s Swedish wife like I’m Chad Kroeger than grant that horseshit children’s series the validity its fans demand. Maybe I’ll skim “Mona At Sea” after all, for possible sex. The reviews mention something along the lines of blackmail material from social media. That’s the kind of dirt fraternity and sorority archivists used to keep on graduates. It was enough for Turkish intelligence to get Dennis Hastert to sandbag resolutions condemning the Armenian genocide. It is good and normal that an entire generation of digital natives has been lectured about the reputational threat of posting nudes or drinking pictures, and meanwhile the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House was being blackmailed for sexually initiating high school wrestlers under his authority. Put me in Coach!

More people actually working for a living would reduce this crap. The problem is, it’s hard to make a living working, and that’s exactly as capital wants it. Uber is out of drivers? Well shucks. Can’t see how that happened! Let’s see how it does with inside-sales subprime auto loans as a recruitment tool.

Meanwhile a girl in Tucson is out of college and out of work. It’s good to hear about a novel whose moral is that hustling ain’t worth shit. It won’t become worth anything again until we do less of it.

Doctoring the stats, if we may

We live in noisy, acrimonious times, bombarded by denunciations of the kids these days for being disgraces to their parents. The barbs the Baby Boom caught were more or less for being insolent, i.e., too mature. The ones Millennials catch are even worse. Go read about that recrimination and religitation and general upset somewhere else, say, in any of the hundreds of passages where it’s already been beaten to death like Nigel St. Nigel’s dinner steak in these pages alone.

Occasionally an absolutely standout statistic pops over the transom and brings this bullshit into the stark relief it so desperately needs but so rarely gets, spotlighting the unlikelihood that tens of millions of extra Westerners under forty independently but simultaneously developed the same set of dysfunctional habits, made the same bad choices, and ended up with the same disappointing accomplishments and bleak prospects. From time to time—more like day or few, for those who aren’t numbed by the cultural onslaught—a snapshot pops up to prove, and I mean prove, that what’s happening is not just entire youth cohorts of current, erstwhile, and aspiring hikikomori freely choosing to make ruins of their own lives.

Tonight’s snapshot, for me, was a graph of the annual number of medical graduates in the postwar United States. The line rises steadily through around 1980. Then it falls into an undulating plateau for the next three decades, before rising more steadily again over the past decade, to the present day.

Did the national population do that? Of course not. It didn’t drop some years or decades and rise in others. It kept growing. Say, the turn of the eighties didn’t feature any other pivots from stewardship into schemes to sneak into other people’s houses and gorge on their seed corn at their kitchen tables, did it? Surely that wasn’t a period of constant strikes and lockouts in an effort to hold the line on the worst of the yuppies.

Metric after metric stagnated or reversed in the seventies and early eighties. It’s chart after chart after chart. It turns out they decided to stop training yuppies into doctors, too. It’s odd. It’s surprising. Aren’t the doctors all yuppies?

Yeah. That’s gotta be why. It’s artificial scarcity. When the unions attempt to enforce a third artificially scarce day of each air traffic controller’s work, they’re lazy freeloaders. When the medical schools and professional associations allow the training of new physicians and surgeons to detach from population growth in an aging country on course to start really aging a generation into the future, that’s, uh, markets something. It couldn’t be professional collusion. It’s not like Adam Smith snickered about how it’s impossible to put any two of any type in the same cafe at the same time and not immediately get them to hatch a conspiracy to fix prices.

The civic implications of Adam Smith complaining not just about every possible sort of tradesman being a born price-fixer but also about landlords are important, eternal vigilance as the price of freedom and all that shit. If that priggish gasbag was Mao by way of the Marquis of Queensberry, maybe the business of business really is monkey business and the landlords really are parasites. Smith happily granted that tradesmen are mere cheats. This might be worth keeping in mind when our elected officials and think tank sinecurists open their pieholes to spend time as the economics faculty.

As fellow tradesmen (and women!), certain members of the b College of Esteemed Barber-Surgeons might wish to do likewise for their own financial gain. They might wish to establish themselves as a strictly select fraternity.

Midwives and midwifery enthusiasts have things to say on this topic.

We risk veering into woo. Is natural childbirth any better than natural root canal or natural orthopedics? I don’t have any she-crunchies in my circles to impress at the moment; none of the bitches in that fight are mine. So let’s flip the question. If obstetrics is such a good idea, why have we spent forty years trying to have less of it? Patch my damn cunt right now, Adams! Be of cervix!

This is an entirely serious question. If a stagnating pool of physicians serving a growing population moves out of general or internal medicine and into OB/GYN for the pay (say, due to student debt), there will be a different mix of ill effects on national health, in this case through the neglect of routine checkups and preventative care, and there probably still won’t be enough obstetricians.

Did the raw ability of American medical schools to train new doctors falter for decades in the midst of breathtaking medical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs? I don’t particularly think so. That isn’t a deal where they just dump all the lab instructors into fulltime R&D. These are complementary parts of the system. They have synergies.

That’s a ridiculous answer for why medical school graduations plateaued alongside surges in the yuppie population. It’s more sensible to explain it by pointing out that recruiters for high-frequency trading shops spent years telling undergraduate math whizzes they were too smart for medical school. Don’t waste your career listening to geezers cough; come help us exploit our microsecond advantage over the other bastards by writing algorithms for the direct line we have from the NASDAQ floor to our new server farm in Hoboken.

These are gentlemen’s pastimes. It’s the kind of parasitic legerdemain that would tempt any ruined aristocrat who’s otherwise prone to club his fellow to death because he was budgeting tonight’s winnings for the latest round of last-ditch payments on his ample household debt. Granted, there are workarounds. For example, parliamentary immunity as a refuge from debtor’s prison is an exercise of classic Burkean conservatism.

It helps to know people to get into medical school these days, too. For veterinary school it’s just about a necessity. Mom and Dad are vets, they both know a bunch of other vets, and whaddaya know, precious Madison seizes the opportunity to shadow one of their colleagues and then gush about it on her improbably successful application for veterinary school. Honorably and lucratively, the family tradition endures.

In the Old World, this professional arrangement would generally be called a hereditary guild. Here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave new one, it’s called—well, shucks, it’s called nothing. We’re one of the most obnoxiously, inexhaustably talkative peoples on God’s green earth, and we somehow don’t have the language to describe the hardening tendency of children, in this case the children of the upper middle class, to take up their parents’ lines of work, to the exclusion of young people from other, less fortunate families.

Counterintuitively, it’s because Americans believe so deeply in the power of language. This is why we lack the language to talk about shit the English, the crew of our mothership and the namesake of our common tongue, traditionally classify with a single syllable. Over here, we’re pretending it isn’t odd that the children of veterinarians have such a preternatural inability to regress to the professional mean of not being veterinarians. They get prodded and hazed through the same test hell as any of their class peers, but kum-on, they aren’t all that competitive. They are not all so smart and capable.

Problem is, our Brahmins today get really touchy about what to do with the family dimwits. Maybe it’s their fault if they won’t study hard enough, but that’s beside the point. The dim their families will have with them always. The intense pressure to succeed doesn’t help, either. Some of their cognitive deficiencies—like, where if you talked to them just to talk to them without thinking about their excellence as striver brats you might walk away thinking they aren’t too fucking bright—arise from the pressure to turn them into Scantron idiot-savants. I was transiently dumber for putting up with that shit. You would be, too.

As Dan Quayle supposedly said, not to have a mind is being very wasteful; how true that is. Palo Alto’s teen suicide victims present, or absent, with scholastic aptitude such that they’d have to go to Atlanta to pass their tests. Youth suicide clusters in affluent communities may well in fact skew test scores and college acceptance letters upwards; I don’t care whether they’re crass enough to think of this, because I am, and I consider it a legitimate, relevant consideration.

All they’d do in Atlanta is grab a damn eraser. Encouragingly, it’s the same approach the proctors took on the Operation Varsity Blues show. Hey, champ, I know a guy in Houston. We’re seriously talking about saving people’s lives here.

*****

I’m shitposting, but I am not kidding. Colleges drive teenagers to suicide, and many more to self-harm, by playing around with the admissions dials to goose their cut of the vig. Then they wonder, oh no, our students have mental health problems. How did that happen? This stance conveniently opens up a slot in the trough for every grifting oddball with a PsyD to devise “solutions” that don’t force their employers to solve a goddamn thing. Our colleges retain an awful lot of in-house solicitors and regulatory specialists per capita for institutions that deal with customers they’re destabilizing to the verge of suicide by commending them to the mental health care of psychologists they employ.

Sociopathic multinational corporations that pull this company town shit on their employees in the interest of “wellness” at least pay them a little something for their trouble. The college model is to charge fees for healthcare upfront, along with tuition, and then delay or deny requests to apply the same fees, by this point on deposit at interest and declarable as liquidity on applications for corporate lines of credit, towards bills for the mental healthcare of outside providers who do not have prima facie conflicts of interest.

This shit is just too fucking obvious to give the benefit of the doubt. Rob Ford needed, like, a week of heat from the press to be like, yeah, I guess I can only prove that I smoked crack, but I’m pretty sure I was also drunk to the point of incapacitation, because that seems like the reason why I’d smoke crack. Dude’s Rock.

I am not here to humor anyone who runs a fucking chartered and accredited bachelor’s or graduate program and insists that isn’t a conflict of interest because it’s complicated and I don’t understand. No, asshole, I’m not a moron. I fucking understand. The arrangement for student mental health services at these schools is tangled but easy enough to describe and explain.

The schools are the immediate payors, the patients are their students, and the clinicians are their employees. The patients, usually via their much more solvent parents, have parallel customer relationships with the payor, as tuition-paying students and de facto policyholders enrolled in a group health coverage plan providing routine outpatient care in campus clinics closed to the general public.

Here’s where it gets sick. The clinicians have the specific, exclusive responsibility of treating mental health outpatients who almost always present with specific complaints against the clinicians’ employer, which is also the patients’ insurance carrier and provider network for psychological care whenever classes are in session and they happen to be on campus.

These are distraught teenagers and early twenty-somethings telling psychologists, all but explictly: Your employer is why I’m sick. Your employer is why I’m cutting myself and thinking of suicide. You work for my college. Our college is emotionally ruining me.

This is a mental healthcare system where the patient has an adversarial relationship with the counselor’s employer, EVERY SINGLE TIME. On rare occasions a patient’s difficulties may not have a provable relationship to the school, one of those situations that’s totally unlikely but plausible enough for Coast to Coast. Okay, I’m not saying I was on meth, but I’m not saying the alien didn’t stick a probe up my butt to download my soul, but I’m definitely saying the way I treat my patients is exactly the way I would if they weren’t telling me I’m working for the same organization that makes them want to kill themselves.

*****

At the institutional level, nobody at these schools can do a thing without debasing themselves to some combination of sophistry and carnival barking. That’s an American story if ever there was one. The combination of self-seriousness and power may be the most ruinous thing about this system. It seems not too conducive to peace of mind to bully teenagers already passing through a drawn-out, incoherently justified liminal period that their future wellbeing in everything from earning capacity to professional advancement to marriage and childrearing depends on their successfully walking a gauntlet of power-mad boors, scolds, busybodies, snitches, and lunatics.

Yes, the individual authority figure is allowed to be a mix-and-match; yes, it’s payable upfront; yes, usurers are standing by with installment plans. Call now.

I swear to God, it’s enough of a rite of passage to get the kids into the payroll workforce. The rest of this shit is just fucking insane.

I once had dinner in the same room as John Yoo for a symposium about Lincoln and Taney and why that did or did not make it okay for the intelligence services to subject detainees they’d gotten for bounties to mock executions. You know, the usual. We were treated to the usual high platitudes about robust debate and intellectual diversity and my balls, which were feeling better than they would have in Homan Square. The idea was that we’d be incurious not to give a fair hearing to a scholar of such stature just because we disagreed with his positions.

Whipped little bitch that I still so often am, I fell for this shit. A fair hearing of that asshole’s heinous and yet boring arguments would be to scream at him to shut up and promise to call 911 the next time he comes into sight. That reaction would rise vaguely towards the level of street justice. A pampered asshat like John Yoo would be horrified. People like him flip their shit at the thought of being heckled. They consider it censorship to be denied salaried academic posts and honoraria just because everything they have to say outrages their paying audiences.

This is the usual grievance about cancel culture: some bigshot pissed the wrong people off in exactly the way he knew not to do when he was on one platform, and how he must suffer the humiliation of having to take his large, established audience to a different, comparably prominent platform whenever he feels like it. The same assholes who are so fed up with liberal snowflakes throw a fit whenever one of them is belatedly denied ongoing payment to say absolutely any rotten thing that comes to mind on Fox News. They get outraged at the possibility of a marginal loss in viewership just because one of them barked a vile racist diatribe through a mouth too wine-soaked to form normal consonants.

To make it even more pathetic, they’re all bitter about their relegation to Fox News or some other platform of similar cultural dominance because a fair society would reward their talents with an appointment to Harvard. Yeah, Harvard doesn’t want me, either, doofus. Harvard does not encompass all possible atrocities just because it’s atrocious.

On the other hand, Boalt Hall made space for Philadelphia Eichmann.

This is the point where I start feeling like I’m fucking hallucinating. I’m just some schmuck who does more or less his fair share of the country’s farm work and publishes huge amounts of weird samizdat, some of which a few strangers enjoy reading. I’m over here chronicling the surreal from time to time, and I feel like a huge disappointment for not doing something more worthwhile. Meanwhile, the surreal who give me themselves as posting fodder do circle jerks for a living. They give each other accolades for publishing “legal scholarship” that would get them fired from the average newsroom for incompetence and serious ethical lapses. They get strivers to prove their own genius for a chance to pay for lectures about how it’s constitutional to commit the kinds of war crimes that got all those guys hanged in Nuremberg. It takes excellent grades and stratospheric LSAT scores to get into John Yoo’s lectures, plus a small fortune in tuition and fees.

Academic grades are barely credible without any of these freaks. They have the same problems with fraud, corruption, and chain of custody as subprime mortgages exhibited in the crash of 2008. The very premise of this system is that it can use printouts of some spreadsheet calculations derived from summary reviews of academic performance to classify alumni as anything from heroically hardworking geniuses to lazy retards, often based on coursework whose only copies existed for all of a day or two. To continue the unnerving hallucinatory feeling, the reason grades and grade point averages are taken so seriously is that the assholes relying on them are too lazy to review applicants’ portfolios. The standardized tests serve the same purpose.

The only thing we know about sexual quid pro quo in academia is that it’s underreported. I guarantee it. Sucking or fucking the right person to change some letters and numbers for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of future earnings is exactly what happens when the stakes are as high as they are now.

Most of this perversion and dissolution is only circumstantially provable. There’s conclusive, thoroughly documented evidence of the parallel ideological extortion that pervades academia and institutions associated with it. Freedom means the latitude to treat Alan Dershowitz like any other jerk with vile politics. It tells us what we need to know about the extent of intellectual freedom that it’s beyond the pale for so many professors and reporters to repay the foultempered immorality of such characters with anything but graciousness and patience. It isn’t mercy or magnanimity to put reactionary shithead lawyers on TV. It’s enabling. It’s collusion.

The assholes could always just grab soapboxes and serve as models of pluck and independence for the young people they rue have turned into whiny, easily offended conformists. They hate the idea. It would be an ego hit. I don’t usually look at my site stats these days. None of these emotionally volatile freaks would be able to resist. None of them can bear to be denied Harvard’s imprimatur, or to be quiet on any platform within their reach about the injury they sustain by being so denied.

*****

The simple explanation for their ill cheer is that they’re courtiers. They’re as bitter and resentful as any other chorus of petty little bitches about being barred from the courts of true power, those stuck kissing noble ass in Avignon for a living always pining for Versailles, where they’ll finally show the world that they’ve arrived.

Bruh, they feed you, right? And of course they do. Courtiers and whatever else they are as well—priests, scholars, jesters, counselors—are fed by the sweat of other brows. It’s one of the draws of the gig. They just have to concoct or perpetuate whatever story it takes to convince the peasants that they shouldn’t have to pitch in on the chores.

What makes these already miserable “conservative” crybabies go from the tragically insatiable to the farcical is their confusion of prestige with power. Sure, maybe critical race theory or whatever on earth is the matter with Larry and the Lady Mathematicians is obnoxious. That doesn’t mean it’s relevant. The people who actually run the Ivies and the United States are happy enough to toss some more feed into the vealpen on demand while those with the real wealth, power, and privilege either do their own whining about how marginalized they are or simply ignore the spectacle.

Our dean of humanities Dr. Summers plays both roles, getting rich and powerful and also splashing around in the mudpit of academic feuds. The litmus test of power, however, is simple. Whoever is getting rich is who matters. That’s the finbros and Tommy Tuberville before it’s anyone maxing out at $30k complaining about representation or free shit from the sponsors to fill out the team.

*****

The more or less reasonable assumption about the applicant pools and student bodies of prestigious universities—the Ivies, the Hidden Ivies, the flagship state schools—is they’re drawn from elite families, ones corresponding at least to the aristocracy or the medieval court clergy. This is intuitive, except it isn’t entirely the case. Harvard wouldn’t make its applicants grovel like peasants if it didn’t regard them as peasants. It esteems a few of them as true nobles; the remainder it regards as mere peasants with disposable assets.

Making these losers do a song and dance is entertainment for profit. It confirms the Good Schools as good schools, ones worth slashing throats and paying fortunes to attend. It reinforces the national and transnational class structures.

Once the higher strata of the peasantry matriculate, their mental health becomes important, because if it decides to go on sabbatical again the kids might do something to make their schools look bad, like drop out. The embarrassment of a high dropout rate comes with a significant loss of tuition and fee revenue, which also makes a school look bad.

There’s no fence bounding the prison. It’s still prison psychiatry.

To quote Zachary Karabell’s awfully unfortunate phrasing, what’s college for? It’s for itself. That’s the thing. It isn’t to prepare students for the professional world or cultivate in them the life of the mind or any of that shit. It’s an expensive crowdsourced matchmaking service, after a fashion, although Grove City is the only college to be honest about this pupose, and hence somewhat coherent. At other colleges the matchmaking role is mostly incidental; the same striving assholes might just as easily meet each other in prep school or grad school or even some yuppie bar in the big city, being yuppies.

The faculties do not govern themselves. Professors can be profoundly disturbed, but one thing they are not inclined to do is elevate the most parasitic flimflammers from among themselves to serve as their chiefs. The quality of administrator drops noticeably from department chair to college president. The central administrators are so much more expensive and so much worse. The principle is that it costs more to get more; quality of personnel demands quantity of funds.

Everything about this is happy horseshit. It’d be cheaper to elevate a sitting professor for a year or two instead of mounting national searches for the best of all candidates, and the candidates would be better. But that’s not the point. The point is to semi-randomly reward suckups for their sycophancy and corruption. Our college presidents couldn’t possibly be pulled from a grab bag of obnoxious, arrogant mediocrities for awards of salaries multiples of what any of the professors they govern earn and also free mansions. Surely they’re intellectuals of great distinction.

The true extent of academic self-government is the department. In some universities it may be an internal academic division, a “college” or “school” or whatever. /Most philosophical Jeffrey and the Jailbait Enjoyers salon voice/ Karabell, I don’t care what it’s for. What’s “college?” Yeah, okay, but wood does dat godda do wit pussy?

It has much to do, of course, just not in coherent or scrutable ways. HQ and the assholes who call their shots—the boards of trustees, the boosters, individual alumni who live to throw their money and weight around—tend not to interfere directly in departmental operations for a number of reasons, all of them better than nothing but none of them reputable. They want their precious schools to look good, and a reputation for sleazy bigshots intruding into departmental affairs is bad. They don’t want tenured faculty getting hostile, and if the vulgarians push the envelope the eggheads most assuredly will. These moneyball shysters are in it to make bank and move bank, not to get berated back off the academic quad by professors who are both avowedly and by consensus more educated, making a scene only to defend the ethical and intellectual high ground.

Besides, the departments have nothing of value to seize in the first place. They’re loss leaders for the big grift. It’s the vealpen again. No need to close the gate; just toss some feed in over the rail. They’ll gladly lie down and chew.

This is why the big cheeses keep the humanities departments around. This is why they don’t pare down the 100-level chemistry courses to excuse the morons who enroll for the distribution requirements and to have the TA’s turn on their Bunsen burners and do their math. They need to pretend that everybody who graduates is educated. Chad Kroeger is educated enough to admit he’s uneducated. That’s too educated.

Okay, he’s singing about high school. Is it the same notorious retard factory in Alberta that it is down here? It’s no pride of th’ American side, to judge from the bitter complaints of its being a volume-discounted version of college with marginally worse academic and occupational results. Nobody who comments on this shit has the intellectual curiosity to go after the deeper, real problems when it’s so easy to whine about low returns on investment. The rest of us get the discourse they deserve.

*****

If college’s intellectual mission is the formation of intellectually curious critical thinkers, a critical thinker would think college graduates would stand out for that, not for being insecure social climbers who get upset whenever somebody disses one of their cults at lunch. If the goal is to produce well-rounded physicians–hold up, because if that’s what we’re doing, we need to start by redesigning medical school.

It must feel too much like vo-tech to think about reclassifying medical training as a strictly professional course of study, such as the law still is in the crustier corners of Vermont. Medicine needs to be a profession of the Renaissance Man (and Woman!), not a grubby trade in which the barber-neurosurgeon is expected to know more about where and how to cut the brain than he does about the classics, butt enough about the Castro, or than she does about walking into her ex-boyfriend’s kitchen and yelling at him while he calls 911 from upstairs because she just woke him up from a nap. Understand, we cannot have the general public accusing The Doctors of exactly the obsessive narrow intelligence that’s drilled into them over the course of their medical training. This would decrease the public’s confidence in, as doctors do not call it but those who seek to marry doctors do, the medical field.

The popular understanding of this shit is all wrong. Everything I publish in these pages is the liberal arts. This right here is the real deal. You can say, well now, it’s nothing but gonzo shitposting, and fine. What I’m saying is still this: Whenever I barf forth another 2,500-12,500 words about Kwesi Millington or whatever the hell to polerize a friend, I’m objectively engaging in the liberal arts. There is no strict professional or technical purpose to this stuff.

There are strict professional and technical purposes to medical education. That’s why we’re all made to pretend that our doctors have to be Jonas Salk and also Marcus Aurelius. Look, I can hardly give my dentist a clear field of view when he starts talking to me about how much he loved “those trees with the pretty bark” (eucalyptus, I determined) on the first trip of his life to California because there was a clinical conference in, like, Altadena. I don’t need him to learn additional topics of conversation; that’s for his personal life, not my already full mouth.

Mind you, I’m just being too smart for school again. I’m not entirely joking, either. One of the purposes of the broad education of medical doctors, and Dr. Puliafito has indeed given a broad or two an education, is to encourage the public to think, patiently, as it were, of polymath brilliance as a proxy for the sharp clinical knowledge and acumen the same doctors may or may not possess.

What the fuck does that have to do with anything? I’m not over here telling Dennis Geyer where to cut, or what to cut, other than out the antics on the bridge, because young man I do not like the sound of that. Do we need or want our surgeons writing crap like that? No. We might wish for them to write post-op notes based on actual reviews of systems, but we can’t have a thing that nice, either. The professional standards are surprisingly mythical. Please insert my usual review of systems.

Medicine is a profession in which Dan Crenshaw’s eyes are equally reactive and dilated. The only way to face consequences for writing notes of that quality is to do so in a practice that maintains its own internal standards. The Mayo Clinic will probably shitcan anyone it catches doing that. The average hospital group? Lol wut, sure. Basically, you can do whatever until you get fired or sued, and if you get into either sort of trouble, you can find somewhere else to work. Drylabbing is okay as long as nobody gets maimed or killed, and the med-surg nurses are there to handle the med part.

My usual, please.

There might be less in the way of funds to slush if the normies start wondering what the fuck doctors know. Out in the streets a lot of Americans are bitter about medical mistakes and the incompetents who make them, but the main point is to overwhelm them by bamboozling nine-to-fives who vote. Dr. Oz is a doctor, you see.

Yeah, no shit. I’ll go to a different cardiac surgeon if I need one because he only practices part-time and the rest of them are somebody else. Does that mean he knows anything about probiotics or superfoods that can’t be learned from a list of ingredients? Does he know anything about exercise that any rando who gets out for a walk doesn’t also know? Of course not. He’s some freak on TV who eats an ounce of raw walnuts for lunch. He’ll be telling me what to eat just as soon as I’ll listen to some performatively folksy dipshit from the Farm Bureau tell me the parish hall coffee in his thermos is good enough for a breakfast at daybreak under the old oak out front of the barn when you’ve got twelve hours of silage to cut. Okay, then, you drink it, you twerp.

That’s the other thing: A whole lot of Heartland Leaders are teachers, not farmers. (I’m leaving the lawyers aside because they’re too numerous to be interesting.) Ben’s Ass—now goodness, can somebody teach me how to spell?—was a college president. Both of his parents were high school teachers. Lyndon Johnson and Chuck Grassley went to normal school. Denny taught in one.

Take that one to the mat. We all wrestle with these things, if we’re so unfortunate. The mere instructor goes to Minnesota for being homosexual; the true rancher goes there to BE homosexual.

The folksy wonders strutting around Washington and its many outposts around the world with their obnoxious method acting projects are eggheads. They’re thousands of times more likely than the average American to have Ivy League pedigrees. So much school, so little refinement. What the hell was the point of sending them? Brett Kavanaugh did not need to enroll to learn about beer.

Are we still to imagine college refines its alumni? Are we still to imagine it has a culturing effect? They matriculate as crass boors, and they graduate as crass boors. As Tom Lehrer might say, it’s a sewer like the rest of life, just costlier.

Rich people love having the merely affluent extrapolate and project their own fussy aesthetics and habits to the very top. They want the upper middle class to imagine that the overclass is not crawling with what Michael O. Church called uncultured barbarians. They want the PMC to continue to take Donald Trump for a poor man’s idea of a rich man, not simply a rich asshole. Between their sheer wealth and their forsaking of the noblesse oblige their ancestors learned the slightly hard way in the Depression, a rich person with coarse tastes today faces few obstacles to acting like Donald Trump. The press earnestly celebrates the vile antics of the rich. We love our celebrities, don’t we, folks. The authorities do little to temper their worst impulses. The matriarchs and patriarchs who were around for the lessons of the Depression in real time are too frail, feebleminded, or dead to meaningfully object. Who was that negro? Why, he was Kofi Annan, Mrs. Astor. Well, now, surely his parents were not foolish enough to name him Coffee.

The hardcore rich do whatever the fuck they please whenever the fuck they please. Sometimes they actually, sincerely try to be reputable and modest. We hear very little from or about these cases. The infamous hard workers among the rich work, or hold acting roles showcasing their own work ethics, almost exclusively to gather and hoard more wealth and power.

During the Great Compression they had to restrain themselves or be restrained. They had to negotiate with unions and submit to regulators. They love their current restoration to the powers of gods on earth. They have always consideed these powers their birthright. It smarted to have their worst wants denied for several decades on account of government intrusion into their affairs and the omnipresent threat of swift mob violence for overreach. They’re gratified to again be given tacit blessings to set quotas in ways forcing their employees to wear adult diapers. They approve of the prerogative Donald Trump used on television to ritually humiliate “apprentices” by breathing the words of ruin upon them like Zeus. They consider this a good model for the economy and for their own lives.

Yes, this includes #resist #WithHer #NeverTrump scolds. As always, it’s about substance, not style.

*****

As we mentioned above, medicine is a grubby, tiring way to try to make a fortune, and one requiring high intelligence. Some families are practically medical castes of their own. There are, for example, many Drs. Gupta. Judy Dench once got the sads on As Time Goes By and had to see a Mr. Percival, a Norman French cunt. To judge from the compensation packages, American doctors push their children High French and Original Brahmin children into medicine for the money. Prestige is the other obvious factor.

To be quite blunt, medical doctors and their class peers do not have a 70% or 90% lock or however much of it is they hog on young adult children capable of completing medical training and serving capably as doctors. Come on. Too many of their kids are too dull or soft or, inflammatory though it is to admit this away from the academic vealpen, traumatized to get through medical school and a residency the way these programs are run.

In the USA today (lol), these rounds of hazing are all too clearly a series of forced marches into a crooked, cruel system that doesn’t work. On an alarming number of floors, it’s acceptable for doctoring to fall somewhere between an acting gig and cosplay. The Village People were not in fact a cop and a logger and whatever. A medical license is worth its printstock as evidence of fitness for a physician who drops acid to make rounds “fun” or a surgeon who scrubs in too drunk to maintain normal gross motor function when he gropes his scrubs nurse with a breast pocket full of sharps.

It’s hard to imagine the quality of available medical staff not plummeting as word gets out about incidents of that nature. It’s more than a few assholes; it’s all the enablers among their colleagues turning a blind eye to flagrant unfitness for duty that could get patients killed, plus the openly homicidal executives and shareholders, plus the ethical impunity for consorting with cheerleader bimbos hawking the latest patent medicines on the junket circuit.

The prevailing ethics and standards of care in American medicine today are, if anything, higher than they should be given how notoriously riddled it is with profiteers, quacks, drylabbers, and other trash who have no business anywhere near it. It’s a powerful strange attractor for bad actors that is incidentally also a powerful strange attractor for good actors.

Where’s the tipping point? I think we’re right around it, but I couldn’t say for sure which side. Ask Malcolm Gladwell. Are Nickelback the dumbest Canadians? They sing popular songs about life, death, relationships found and lost and maybe found again, the sociology of small towns, luck good and bad, high school, sex in the shower, and the criminal justice system. Gladwell is famous for writing about how if you play a lot of hockey, there’s a good chance you’ll get good at hockey.

By God my stories about how if you spend 1,000 hours learning about horses at a government sleepaway school you’ll have no idea how to calm down a Pollack are better than that.

*****

The answers are so straightforward and yet so daunting. Train more doctors instead of whatever the hell we’re doing to miseducate our smart people instead. Nationalize the big pharmacorps, which profiteer on government research all the time as it is. Investigate the shit out of anyone trying to trade dinners and swag and a little something-something under my blouse for prescription sales, on both sides of the agreement; that setup is a way for our already quite well-compensated physicians and surgeons to charge their hookers to company expense accounts. Break up the for-profit hospital groups. Yank their nonprofit status on grounds of fraud. Establish more and better government clinics.

Medicare for All or Medicaid for All or Tricare for All would be a good adjunct.

Or an army of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed idealists could try to join it and reform it from the inside. It’s admirable, until it turns into a sellout fiasco like Teach for America or the law for most anybody. It’s the usual shit about systems and their inertia and peer pressure from colleagues and the kids’ classmates and all the rest of it. It’s a fucking mess, rather like the mainstream culture of this decadent, decrepit land.

Besides, you won’t need to call Toni Morrison to babysit your toddler while you become a neurosurgeon. There aren’t any openings. Help is not wanted.

Title IX Sports

It’s welcome to see two preeminently disreputable American institutions belatedly get discredited in the midst of the Rona. I refer, of course, to college and NPR.

In NPR’s case, the discrediting is a result of enough Americans listening to enough NPR to realize that it’s too rotten to deserve their financial support until it loses Amazon’s, Google’s, and that of every other multinational corporation whose sponsorship its reporters end up disclosing several times a day. The target audience has more disposable income than it did before the shutdowns, not less, but work-from-home means listen-from-home, and they’re listening too closely to pay up on demand. KQED shouldn’t need to nag its audience for over a week for a million and a half or three million or whatever half-assed house money it claimed to need badly enough to preempt Michael Krasny less than a month before his retirement. These are gross signs, but they’re good signs.

In the case of college, it’s that there isn’t any. In the nominally good times preceding those we enjoy today, the American undergraduate academy overpromised and underdelivered to a vile extent. With “classes” and “activities” now virtual, its delivery of the socially and sexually catalytic effects it promises its students is nil. A handful of campuses have more or less successfully reopened, usually with extraordinary screening and surveillance regimes. A larger group have reopened haphazardly and disastrously, e.g., making the news for quaranting students in dormitories without food deliveries. Most have remained closed. Setting aside the questionable academic and intellectual objectives of these hallowed institutions, they’ve entirely lost their usefulness as places to party, hang out, and get laid. These are not the only extracurricular forms of social enrichment our colleges are now denying their students, either, but they’re some of the more important, and they’re gone. They’re no longer fully delivered to a minority of students and partially delivered to the rest or anything of that nature. We’re doing everything over the computer now.

Ah, yes, that’s what the visionaries of the early Obama years called a MOOC. Instead of paying administrative rentiers outrageous sums to be dead weight on academic programs under their authority, we could all go online for the Great Courses on tape with a streaming video component. Surely this was in no way a coping mechanism in the face of a fourth-turning economic crash, of course.

Oh. We still have to pay full tuition? Huh-uh. Get fucked.

As I’ve bitterly spilled pixels by the millions arguing, undergraduate education in the United States has been crying out for a teardown overhaul for decades. It went into the pandemic all but unreformable. Anything to break its leverage over its “communities” is welcome. It’s serendipitous for applications and enrollment to finally decline in earnest because institutions that have been shaking the country down for two generations are showing their whole ass by continuing to ask for money. Until last year they offered brick-and-mortar programming that was to some degree or other worthwhile. All they’re offering now are series of videoconferences.

Colleges and their boosters complain that they still face the same fixed costs as ever, plus some. Okay, but why the fuck is that a concern for the general public? Pay me to worry about that shit and I’ll start worrying about it. Yes, I mean this literally. Pay me the fuck up already. Pay up or shut up. Full-freight Zoom school is like Qantas charging full Transpacific first class fares for streaming rights to a collection of YouTube videos of Longreach. This idea that random private citizens have a duty to worry about the solvency of recently profitable corporations because they’ve hit a few rough quarters is completely fucking outrageous. American colleges are manifestly for-profit institutions. If they were actually bona fide nonprofits they would not pay prized administrators multiples of their usual and customary salaries for senior tenured faculty.

Most of these schools, sob stories about hard times and all, are nonprofits the same way the Brands magically shift shape from Irish to Dutch to Liberian to Wilmingtonian, Delaware written on my heart because I’m an unhinged old lawyer who shouts fighting words at factory workers in an authentic blue-collar way. They’re as fraudulent as the home country we share. There have been reports in sober, rigorous media that many American colleges and universities are in trouble because they’re facing capital calls on their endowment assets. Uh, yo, how did that happen? Isn’t that shit supposed to be, like, professionally managed? How did it end up sounding like collateral for investment on margin? Excuse me, but I’m less interested than ever in donating to any institution whose peers are reported to be doing that.

The ethical standards governing these organizations are fictional. It’s impossible for bad actors to get banished from accreditation. If the accrediting bodies enforced ethical standards, the American academy would turn into the Pitcairn Islands of institutional fraud. No, I’m not saying they aren’t full of predatory sexual deviants, too.

Charts showing the relative sizes of the total faculty and administrative workforces over time are amazing. The faculty grows very slowly and modestly while the administrative apparatus balloons. Ironically, university faculty bodies are historically autonomous, going back into Medieval Europe. Our professors are effectively bossed around by their own clerks. If our colleges were in fact academic universities, their faculties would elect provosts, the provosts would appoint administrative aides as necessary to shoulder the workload, and the aides would remain subordinate on pain of termination. It wouldn’t matter what the fuck they decided to call the provost: president, chancellor, superintendent, whatever. The point is, a credibly academic institution would be governed by academics for academic purposes. Larry Nassar would be possible; Jim Jordan and Dennis Hastert would not.

Do we still wonder why they’re called “Greek Organizations?” Yes, Virginia, there is a Nebraska Coed. In fact, there are many. No, they are not the worst Nebraskans. Come out. Don’t make me wait. Ben’s Ass–goodness, one would think I graduated able to spell–in any event, Mr. Ass claims to have impressed a group of coeds at his own Nebraska university into erecting a big bristly Christmas tree in full public view, to make the season festive. FreequentFlyr/IndyFinance calls this story a lie. Perhaps Mr. Ass would have dodged temptation by wrestling with these hard questions somewhere back east, among young men.

It’s fun!

To wax a bit more earnestly around the bush, athletics are probably a better grooming ground than academics. The main reason there’s such a treasury of stories about professors having midlife crisis affairs or whatever else we care to call them with students is that it’s professors who write maudlin autobiographical fiction, alternately classified as fantasy fiction or memoir. They’d find it too humiliating to write novels celebrating what Denny Dundiddly dun. Coach, for his part, is too dim to write his own story. Which coach? Does it even matter? Lawrence of the Labia was smarter than Marter, which don’t aspicca so wella Bela, but that’s about as impressive as any other barber surgeon outwitting a vulgar meathead by sneaking food into the girls he’s trying to starve. *Unsolicited Jeff Foxworthy Voice* Every month my wife sees the need to set menstruate. The Karolyis don’t need a second look to know what’s wrong with the old lady. Bitches be feedin.

Seriously, though, it’s an overwrought revenge of the nerds deal to imagine the campus sex pests as a collection of tweedy dorks with elbow patches when it’s the sports teams and fraternities that show up and pay for the joint. Nobody gives a shit about lit. Professors sometimes get involved in seedy or predatory sexual arrangements, but they’re probably underrepresented, especially at schools with big sports programs or frat scenes, and with rare exceptions they don’t have nearly the clout it takes to make allegations go away.

It’s generally safer on campus than off. The Brock Turner episode attracted so much attention in part for nasty psychosexual reasons, Blondie being the hot kind of rapist and all that, and because the media love to terrorize affluent parents for profit, but also because it was so jarring to hear about a Stanford student forcibly raping a classmate because he came across her passed out on the street in a town as fastidiously kept as Palo Alto. Nobody gives a shit when that happens on the Rez. Nobody but his mother cares enough to cry when it happens in the ghetto (in the ghetto). The Rez, the ghetto, Skid Row, the outlaw block: That’s where it happens all the time. Garrido and his sad-ass wife got popped because he took the family onto the UC Berkeley campus and made a scene in God’s name, and also in destiny’s oops lol. Nobody bothered them as long as they stayed on Pervert’s Flat.

For real. Do you want to fantasize about getting raped by that ripped young thing under the California palms–healthfully, as Wolfgang Puck would say, even robustfully? Or do you want that gnarly-ass son of a bitch doing the deed in a warren of shacks down by the waterfront, not just east of Eden but hella fucking east, and then dumping a few cans of stir-fried Hamburger Helper onto a bed of Top Ramen and calling that dinner? Ellie Clougherty complained about Joe Lonsdale making her freebleed onto NICE furniture in NICE hotels. There are handsomer gingers, and he’s a bit odd around the edges, but he dressed well and kept his woman in style. I mean, I’d rather have Summer Benton have her way with me in the abandoned apartment complex from the Who the Hell is Whitehead episode (might be the one they now have on the radio) than have that slovenly fat lady who called my aloha shirt jazzy dance up on me in the Bonneville Transit Center.

The analogy here is that I’d rather have the hot weirdo with the tighter curves get weird on my fat white ass than the normal one with the looser curves get normal on me in a facility that still has normal plumbing. Winco may have novels on this topic.

As a cradle Southern Baptist from Loudoun County turned Antiochian Orthodox convert on the philosophy faculty at Leiden always said, every analogy at some point becomes a disanalogy. *NYC Guido Voice* Eyy, in that case, how about data analogy! Nah, jus kidding pal, dis one’s all right too!

****

Rape is a criminal felony. The Brock Turner case infuriated moneyed hysterics not living near Jannie Ligons because it showed forcible rape not to be felonious enough. To judge from the uproar, the kid got away with it.

But he didn’t. He went to jail and was put on the registry. These are not lenient consequences. County jails are brutal. Sex offender registries consign registrants to functional outlaw status; that’s how the Garrido family ended up on the outlaw block, safely away from the prying eyes of the police.

Other punishments are worse. That isn’t the fucking point. A standard booking in a well-run county jail would set off the average SVU junkie into ballistic outrage. So would registry placement. They’d do exactly what Brock Turner’s lawyers did for him.

Or, as I started to write it, Brock Lawyer. We watch too goddamn much TV. There’s an old Vineland aphorism about this: “Ukh uh akha akha oomb.” Something to that effect. We deaden ourselves with that shit.

“Sex crimes get prosecuted.” No they don’t. SVU is a show about a cougar-milf who sometimes gets laid. If you try to press charges against a sexual assailant you frankly have no fucking idea what any of them will do on your behalf. It’s best to assume they’ll do jack shit. Check out patrol response times and rape kit backlogs in Detroit. You’ll have to actually look it up. Joe Bageant was right. Hologram don’t serve no dark meat. Audiences are not immediately rapt before tales of useless police forces doing nothing about the high-frequency stochastic outbursts of chaotic violence in a visibly, incontrovertably failing state. This is why there are so many shows about hot white pricks raping hot white hoes, or like, kinda sorta raping them but nobody remembers much about it, or black guys who wouldn’t quite get barred at the door from the SEPTA 61-Ridge no matter how rough they are in Division I ball.

Look. Fat Cracka, ya boy’s seen some shit. They don’t farm out the writing and casting to schizoid tweakers who hang out around Market East. SVU is a Guild job. Dominic “Denver Dago” Carisi asking about a 5150 doesn’t break frame. It’s retarded, but only the nerds notice. It’s a big jump shy of the handsomest Scotsman ever to wear a botwie in Tulsa helping the handsomest shifty kraut in a squad polo shirt and a collection of Twilight Zone homely sidekicks figure out why the permanent motel underclass beef over baggies of crank and then whack each other.

That’s some fairly honest programming in spite of its picturesque rawness. It’s also difficult to spin into parasocial narrative arcs. Just when they start looking shippable, they’re off to chase down the next crew of hopeless lowlives paying some secretly affluent midcaste Indian family doublemarket rates for everyone on the property to live in permanent squalor. It raises questions more troubling than why Benson is banging Tucker and not Amaru and by the way she’s helping the highcaste deep undercover trust fund Londoner blackmail a Homer and Langley prospect over his shoe fetish while Tucker flips the male dominatrix whose client the priest is reciprocally blackmailing Tucker’s cousin the monsignor. Inspector Lewis and–good God, speaking of funny-looking whites, Sergeant Hathaway–also investigate murderers of money, as one does in Oxfordshire. It’s always some shit with a castle and an inheritance, not wot, oy can’ affawd a boy’ o’ bread foaw me daw’ah, at’s woy oy glassed the coppa.

It’s fine to be Tommy Gilbert weird and just kind of hang out and do drugs until it’s killing time. What won’t cut it is being the kind of seaboard white who has never bought a piece of clothing costing more than ten bucks and will never move out of the crummiest weekly dump on Route 30 in the part of Absecon that doesn’t have sidewalks. That’s drugs, too. That, too, is behavioral health in the community. It still doesn’t quite work. Clean it up and drop it as a storyline now and then, maybe, but for real, none of that is who the audience want raping their daughters. We’re looking for class here. We’re looking for fit, handsome, chiseled young men whose parents have the money to pay full freight at universities that carry liability insurance.

The abandoned dope house can’t burn down by the Speed Line in Camden. The City of Chicago will pay to make it happen under the El. That way it can be woven into a season arc that ships Florida Woman with the ginger whose brothers back in Australia are all white supremacist surgeons. We aren’t looking for Greyhound passengers. We’re looking for fire lieutenants who are general contractors, aldermen, ambulatory, and verbal. All things are possible with a broad set of shoulders.

Chicago has ax bars.

****

Scenario: A classmate gets violently drunk and batters you. He’s always getting absolutely trashed and forcing himself on whoever is partying in the same room and catches his attention. Everybody on campus knows how he rolls. He gets pissed off at other guys for making moves on chicks he wants to bang and Jonathan Josey floorchecks them to show them who’s boss. He waits for thots to get plastered at house parties and moves on them while they’re blacked out, confused, and visibly uncomfortable. He roofies their drinks. He prevails upon brothers who would rather slip away one-on-one with affectionate women to join him in gang rapes. After all, they were hazed into SAE, too. They’ve all done the Elephant Walk.

You’re aren’t one of his “brothers.” Regardless of the loose terminology he spits when he’s on benders, you did not sign up for any of that shit. One of his buddies invited you to the kegger. Or it was a come-one come-all walk-in affair. You start flirting with one of the girls on the dance floor. You begin, in the Burmilian parlance, to dance up on one another. Tough guy doesn’t like it. He gets up in your face and gives you a good shove. You lose your footing.

You look like an ass, but mainly you’re pissed.

Or you’re the girl. For some reason this asshole butted in and pushed that cute guy who was chatting you up out of the way. The poor guy looked mortified. Last you saw he was out the door, silent.

You stick around. As the eastern sky lightens, you realize you’ve lost several hours. You can’t remember what time you formed your last reliable memory of the night. All you know for sure now IS now. You’re sprawled out on a filthy couch. Your underpants are on wrong. They’re wet in a way you can’t explain.

You remember the asshole barging in, yelling at that kid you liked, and shoving him. You’re sexually experienced and confident enough to tell this is unusual, and you can’t account for the past several hours. You dimly remember the asshole making moves on you. You dimly remember squirming and moaning, uncomfortably, with a man pinning you down. You think it was the same asshole who shoved the guy dancing with you to the floor.

You think you were raped.

****

The fundamental question in each of these scenarios, male victim of battery and female victim of rape by incapacitation, is the same. Are you: 1) ashamed; 2) intimidated, or 3) angry? Which of these reactions is dominant?

You personally witnessed a man widely known to be menacing and violent commit a battery in front of dozens of bystanders. As the male victim, you can testify clearly to what he did to you personally. Alternately, as the female victim, you can testify to what you witnessed him do to a third party and a second violent crime you believe he committed against you while you were incapacitated and at best semiconscious.

That dude committed at least one prima facie violent crime, likely two. Legally, you have the option to press criminal charges in the local district court. You and the assailant were both under the jurisdiction of the local government, not just the college. The local government has legal primacy over the college. Legally, it is allowed to send investigators onto campus or execute raids there to the same extent as it is on any other private property under its jurisdiction. That shit ain’t Gitmo. College officials and boosters can piss and moan, but it isn’t their call. Their gentlemen’s agreement with the town cops ends whenever the townies determine they’ve stopped being gentlemen.

You plot out the process for a criminal complaint. You research it. It looks impossible, not worth the trouble. You’re mad as hell; you’re adamant that that piece of shit knew better and did not have any right to a warning; he knew his way to the Rubicon, to the waters he fondled with his feet like a whore on Hunter Biden, glaring and smirking at the punks on the far shore.

There were other witnesses, but it isn’t enough. They’ll be intimidated into silence or perjury. The defense will assert that they were too drunk and distracted to be credible. It all happened in the fog of war. By the time it’s over, you’ll be exhausted and emotionally bruised and he, through his attorneys, will have established reasonable doubt if the investigators ever believed they had probable cause.

It ain’t SVU.

This still leaves the civil courts. You can sue his ass. You can throw everything at the wall: petition for a no-contact order broad enough to indefinitely bar him from campus and settle for whatever the court grants; demand a financial settlement, on the record, no NDA, no mercy but the option to refuse to stipulate wrongdoing; a private investigation to trace his entire social and professional circles and interview every person in it who seems likely to have information; service of legal process to the assailant, all relevant college officials up to the president and the chair of the board of trustees, and all likely peer conspirators; a full court press at discovery.

You can make it clear to him, in public, that he will be given no second chance for what he did. If he doesn’t voluntarily stipulate the existence of your complaint on the record, you will exhaust all lawful channels to force his surrender. It isn’t about the other chumps he abused with impunity; it’s about the first time he went too far on the wrong person.

You can go to the press. You can publish affidavits on social media. The threshold for a finding of liability for defamation is high. All you have to do is demonstrate that your outcries were bona fide. If he pushes forward with a suit, he’ll open himself and his fraternity up to discovery. The lawyers will warn them. He’s done the same shit to too many other people. All it takes is one complainant blowing the whistle to break the dam on all of them. The first complainant gives cover to the rest. As they say in London, Melbourne, and Chicago, leaders lead from the front.

It doesn’t usually work out this way. Few plaintiffs are willing to force resolutions on the record. Sometimes, though, Grandma calls the sex crimes squad and gets Holtzclaw off the streets.

****

If that sounds daunting and fruitless, you could always have your complaint adjudicated in house by a hearing officer or tribunal working for the college. We have a big chunk of federal law setting forth this process. It falls under the same title governing men’s and women’s sports.

Title IX.

The Title IX sexual assault adjudication process sets off every possible alarm. The whole thing is a kangaroo court. Hearings are held in secret under the auspices of institutions claiming authority in loco parentis over students old enough to take on massive unsecured debts and enlist in the armed forces. Their rulings have no force of law off campus; at the same time, they expose the accused to life-altering consequences based on questionable evidence admitted into evidence in proceedings with no independent oversight or public scrutiny. The adjudicators have the legal counsel of college solicitors available on demand; they forbid students legal representation at hearings. The adjudicators work for institutions that are extremely likely to be adverse in the near future to either or both parties they’re judging. They have a glaring vested interest in issuing rulings that minimize institutional exposure to liability for serious offenses committed on their property and under their official auspices. They forbid students appearing before them from copying, or sometimes even viewing, documents relevant to civil or criminal cases they might well pursue.

What the fuck is any of this shit? It’s insane. It’s a mesh of systemic conflicts of interest under the private authority–the privilege–of institutions that actively commit preemptive obstruction of justice the moment parties appearing before their courts seek outside resolution of their grievances. Courts–real courts–want to ascertain what remedies parties appearing before them in civil cases have pursued shy of filing suit. Title IX tribunals put defendants and plaintiffs alike in the position of having to respond to judges that they submitted to the private arbitration of complaints of violent crime before closed courts operating under obvious conflicts of interest and actively refusing to cooperate with duly commissioned judges presiding over real cases in the real world.

It’s just fucking bizarre. Schools do not have the sovereign authority to exempt themselves or their students from the jurisdiction of the criminal courts over accusations of violent crime. If I returned to Dickinson to audit classes as a graduate and decided to beat some other student up for some dumb reason, no shit I’d be subject to arrest and criminal prosecution by the civil authorities. This is a good reason not to go whole-ass Preston Brooks on some twerp at the roundtable seminar because you think he mouthed off and you’re mad.

In most circumstances people don’t get to just beat the shit out of one another whenever they’re upset or for whatever insult set off their hair-trigger tempers. Going into Giant and threatening to rape a cashier would be grounds for arrest on the spot. This is common knowledge. It has a strong deterrent effect. What the fuck happened to make accusations of forcible rape subject to private binding arbitration before patently interested arbitrators?

Betsy DeVos infamously did an anti-feminism and a patriarchy when she limited the scope of Title IX hearings to provide more protections for the accused. Betsy is a bad woman from a very bad family, a wretched moralizing lush with grossly feudal pretensions. On Title IX, she was right. She’s a shithead, just not a total shithead. Calling an atrocious kangaroo court system into question was absolutely the right move.

Here’s another thing: I know the type who sit in judgment on Title IX tribunals. I’ve personally interacted with students who served as hearing officers in underage drinking cases. They’re some of the shittiest, most untrustworthy morons I’ve ever in my life known. They’re the same officious petty tyrants who make life hell on line employees at Sheetz whenever they take positions as junior keyholders. They’re larp-grade Judenrat busybodies, unspeakably contemptible.

Their bosses, the people in charge of the Title IX adjudication process, are even easier to understand. They’re college administrators.

****

Driving home from my girlfriend’s place last night I was tripping balls delirious. We’d been hanging out in her room all night. By her reckoning we’re definitely not a couple, but we talked it over, and I was as much of a dumbass as ever to fear she was dumping me from what she insists is not actually a relationship. She was all like, chill; breathe; we can just be intimate. Her idea of “shitty relationship material” is being a single mother of kids who get along bettter with me than I ever expected and consequently often not having time to have me over. If that’s a shitty relationship, I’ll be damned to imagine a good one.

Sociologically, it’s fascinating to talk so much with an exceptionally lucid and perceptive person who knows a stunning variety of the most incorrigibly fucked up losers and freaks in a county of nearly half a million. I was mostly telling her more stories about the down-and-out shitting in trash cans and dumpsters and the likes. She had some appalling stories of ungovernable medical doctors. One was a cute, peppy milf type who bragged about dropping acid before rounds to make work more fun. Hersheypark Happy, I believe was what we called it. Another was a surgeon who drove one of his OR nurses so mad that she left nursing entirely to do well-paid but not particularly moral clerical work. Her problem with the surgeon was that he came scrubbed into the OR stumbling drunk and poked her with sharps in the course of groping her by the breasts.

It was a four-and-a-half-hour marathon of intermittently verbal storytelling. As Sedge Thomson might reluctantly say, if you can’t be legible, at least you can be plausible. I finally drove off around 4:15. At a few points I realized I didn’t really know where I was: probably Santa Rosa, maybe Kansas. I was on a road I drive all the time. Joe McConnell came over the air with his 4:20 wake-n-shake when I was about a third of the way home. That was the only point of temporal orientation I achieved.

By God’s grace I made it home intact and unmolested. Joe came on for his second report of the morning at 4:50. 580 over the Altamont Pass was already down to 15-35, I believe he said. Normal speeds for that time of the morning, in any event.

Fucken A.

I think I fell asleep to Brian Watt’s early local news at 5:22. I had no interest in staying awake for Saul Gonzalez’s chat with Tony Thurmond about some educational bullshit or other. I already spend too much time thinking about the schools. Brian and Saul have a satisfyingly long-lasting effect on me when I’m that fucked up. It’s enough to check in, confirm that their delivery styles are as engagingly bizarre as ever, and go the fuck to sleep.

In the midst of drivetime with the public sector local notables, the mothership piped in from Washington with a report of the latest scandal in the NCAA. It had to do with the lady ballers at March Madness being given shabbier gyms than the gents.

That put me straight back into the preverbally surreal. The coeds were salty about having a disappointing gym. Unbelievable. They were getting national radio airtime to complain about how the men’s teams had nicer workout equipment.

I was flooded with transverbal thot. /Borat Voice/ My Part-Time Wife was facing a full day of Sisyphean parenting on no sleep. Meanwhile a group of elite athletes were throwing themselves a pity party on NPR for having to complain to get a nicer gym to replace their less nice gym, on the basis that having had only a small, crummy gym for their private use was sexism.

NPR’s White Whines always register with me. This one, this time, registered with an inarticulable but overwhelming power I never experience. All I could feel, mentally, was the preverbal–transverbal–knowledge that that squad of bitches didn’t have any real problems, so they were complaining about bogus ones.

They were so embarrassingly close to complaining about real problems. They teetered on the very precipice of karolying the Song of Sport. Lawrence of the Labia, Lying Jordan, J. Denny Dundiddly, Our Lord Joseph and His Servant Gerald: As Yaakov Smirnoff always said, Coach puts in YOU! One might get the idea that the same programs that offer their male players equal no pay have problems worse than shitty workout rooms for away games. Weren’t colleges supposed to be problematic for fostering so much rape? On the other hand, if the focus is carefully kept on bullshit about how the fellas got sweeter iron, one might not.

Those chicks will finish their college careers. A very few will go on to the WNBA, to complain about getting less pay from semi-lucrative teams instead of crummy gyms from very lucrative ones. Most won’t. You won’t play pro hoops, either. I may not know who you are, but that much I know. The rest of the ladies will move immediately into girlboss power careers doing jobs obtainable through mere highbrow hustle, not supernatural athletic talent and luck. From there they will ruthlessly pursue the assortative mating necessary to conceive the next generation of female overachiever, or the male kind.

It has been my misfortune to be aware of Dr. Levine as both.

They know what they’re doing

The scholarly literature shows that increases in interest rates cause increases in suicide rates among farmers in India. Interest rates on farm loans are a big dial the authorities can turn to optimize the number of Indian farmers killing themselves out of pure despair.

Everything’s a Dril tweet, just darker. The published peer-reviewed literature has shown for decades that farmer suicides in India track what they’re forced to repay on loans. Again, this is just the published literature, excluding the huge body of high-grade classified research. There’s a reason why Graham Spanier washed up into one of the proliferating Beltway spook shops when the Penn State Board of Trustees got fed up with him for having been on watch for decades of child rape under the auspices of their flagship athletic program. He’s merely one of the best.

The deep state knows the same things about American farmers. Suicide is a notorious taboo in farm and ranch country. Every fool on the range knows financial desperation is what drives suicide rates in the Dakotas to some of the highest in the country. The security services have to know the same things, just with more detail as to why and, crucially, how.

A classic normcore mistake is to assume good motives meeting bad execution whenever things go awry. There’s no need to execute them when they do the job themselves. *Smug headtapping meme*. NAFTA has been not been good nigh these three decades for the places where Americans can still theoretically afford to live. Come the fuck on. Trashing thousands of functioning communities and hastily building ring upon ring of new construction in metastatic megalopolitan cryptoagglomerations freshly flooded with wave after wave of capital domestic and foreign has been, if you can believe it, bad for many ordinary Americans. This is exactly what the ruling class expected all along. This is exactly what they wanted. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were never privately like, gee, shucks, didn’t see that coming.

We disrupted some folks. We moved cheese on some folks.

This is a ruling class that would know, say, how to mismanage a contagious disease outbreak to calibrated ill effect. That is indeed what they’ve done. They knew good and goddamned well what would happen in the event of the indefinite shutdown of huge swathes of the economy coinciding with doctors’ orders for the whole nation to stay home until further notice. They knew what would happen if advisories to minimize physical contact with strangers were misleadingly framed as orders not to leave the house on pain of criminal indictment. They knew what would happen if they deployed language such as “social distancing” and “virtual festival” or declined to offer alternatives to the muddled popularization of “lockdown” and “quarantine” to describe a Groundhog Day lifestyle of living as a nation of shut-ins on official orders–waited on by roustabout servants on call to venture as proxies into the real world, allowing Brahmins of that certain traditional financial standing to maintain and display ritual purity at Dalit expense–or encouraged the further euphemism of performative hypochondriac neurosis as “cottagecore.”

They knew, in short, what would happen if they indefinitely suspended normal life. They aren’t the least bit surprised to observe big jumps in depression, anxiety, domestic abuse, overeating, heavy drinking, and suicidality. After all, they’ve spent decades practicing on sacrifice zones, to strategically minimal fanfare. They’ve spent decades destroying disfavored parts of the domestic imperial periphery by limiting the same public services and cultivating the same destructive habits in the natives. They were barring the bathroom door even to customers in the ghetto (in the ghetto) for decades before they suddenly shut down countless public bathrooms in rich parts of town on public health grounds. They did the same thing with access to electrical outlets. Mirroring the sudden but lasting unavailability of bulk nonperishables in grocery stores on public health grounds, the sacrifice zones are longstanding food deserts. Their residents were suffering en masse from untreated medical and psychiatric illnesses decades before the affluent insured were suddenly offered “telehealth” appointments in lieu of five-minute physical exams.

Empire comes home.

They knew what would happen if they bullied and shamed ordinary Americans for daring to leave the house, let alone to visit loved ones. We’re doing virtual visits now. They knew what would happen if they suddenly popularized an obscure, glitch-prone teleconference program as the indispensable alternative to actually fucking visiting other people. They knew they’d end up with a population even more sedentary, lethargic, and out of shape than before by dictating insructions to stay home but by all means get out for exercise but for the love of God STAY HOME, in many places closing the parks for weeks or months on the spurious grounds that they would spread contagion.

The schizoid messaging provoked schizoid ideation. No fucking shit. Broadcasting muddled, contradictory messages in the midst of provable gaslighting campaigns will do that. Anthony and the gang lied about the efficacy of masks for weeks before caving to public pressure. That motherfucker told people to get out on cruise ships! He bragged on the record, in the New York Times no less, about lying to the public about expected herd immunity thresholds in an effort to calibrate messaging for maximum vaccination compliance. That’s just the way for officials to do to inspire confidence in new, barely tested vaccines when they work for the same government that did the Tuskegee Experiments, the Pruitt-Igoe chemical weapons tests, and nuclear weapons tests in the Desert Southwest. The US Government serially runs tests on uninformed, nonconsenting subjects, as our ancestors were called in Merry Old England. Not to worry, though: NPR helpfully informs us that racism is why vaccination rates are lower in nonwhite and poor neighborhoods than in rich white ones. Surely it hasn’t a thing to do with mass distrust of the medical authorities, an awfully unreasonable worldview were it to arise.

Check it out, guys. New dial. This one says “vaccine.”

The authorities know what they’ll accomplish with systematic wokescolding. They know it better, more intimately, in more granular detail, than you or me, or at least me. This is where it gets really weird. Everything gets warped through a looking glass beyond the one warping our perceptions of life and health in the time of neither. We hear much more about sex and race than we do about class. One wonders which of these three makes the puppeteers at the networks squirm.

NPR platforms a growing team of black personalities who speak in an accent from the uncanny valley of the Not Quite White. It’s very disconcerting. Loading that particular weirdness on top of the already advanced weirdness of the House Voice as a generalized, panracial affectation by way of speaking about and on behalf of America’s oppressed minorities is, all of it put together, just overwhelming. It’s disturbing to think about anyone taking any of it seriously. Totebag Nation is a painfully earnest people. Maybe we should think about something else instead.

Maybe we should go enjoy something not pertaining to the trendsetters of our great land and what they do with their disposable income. KQED claims to have beaten its pledge goals. It advertises the URL’s of its advertisers’ dedicated webpages for KQED listeners. We’re crowdsourcing work for the Audit Bureau of Circulation now. God bless and keep America.

When I listen to NPR’s proliferating racemongerers and actually think about what they are and what they’re doing, on top of the auditory assaults of such characters as the terminally schoolmarmish Mary Louise Kelly and the animatronic spook Michele Kelemen, I can’t help but notice that ain’t none a them choppin’ cotton. It’s naughty to entertain thots of the House Negress, but what else are these characters? They cook and plate this hearty hoppin John; I merely report on the delicious dish, for the audience to decide. The readership can have a little watermelon discourse, as a treat. The retard can have a little pecan pie: food to eat.

Ah, that’s right. We don’t talk about bad deeds around here. Bill Clinton wokely had Ricky Ray killed before dessert. Son of a bitch passed the goddamn Marshmallow Test. Absolute Legend. I’m just an uppity loser who actually works with crops so far not including cotton. Who am I to question the rectitude or judgment of some interchangeable black lady who talks in the same weird-ass cadence and diction as every other interchangeable she-robot on NPR?

Many of the he-robots speak likewise. Guy Raz is going full Brokeback Mountain on John Ruetten as we speak. Lazarus, do you copy?

Today, on how I built this tent in my pants–eh, never mind. That wasn’t going anywhere good. It wasn’t going anywhere at all, honestly. I wonder what Mark Fuhrman thought about the Westside Jews. He probably just griped about Steph being a fucking split tail in front of that shiksa and her camcorder.

Send me some picture postcards already, you stupid South Sound cracker.

Harbor or no harbor, it’s always fun to brame a fellow for talking his white ass out of that gig. That probably sounds as braindead as I felt writing it, but Fat Cracka don’t mind.

The authorities knew what to expect from cooping the country’s disposable income up in front of screens and berating the normies not to dare seek out unmediated interactions outside their own households. They knew they’d end up with a nation of hypochrondriac paranoiacs reflexively shunning independent businesses in favor of the handful of multinational behemoths always advertising online and on TV. They knew they’d scare people into driving everywhere and getting everything they don’t order in through curbside delivery or drive-in lanes. It’s so fucking dystopian to go past In-N-Out or Chick-fil-A in reasonably navigable traffic and see the drive-through line spilling out into the fucking street. Food banks are drive-through now. It’s unfuckingbelievable.

Who wants this bullshit where everything has to be prepackaged in plastic for single use and served through a car window because we’ll all kill our grandmothers by sitting down in a restaurant lobby and briefly touching a soda dispenser: independent restaurateurs, or the Darden Group? Any of the big restaurant groups can shut down indefiitely, wait for the small fry to die by mass attrition, and recapitalize overnight. The independents cannot.

Big business is fully aware of this. Uber and Lyft are fully aware of their opportunity to kneecap mass transit systems. Instacart and the supermarket chains are fully aware of their opportunity to bust drivers’ unions with a flood of 1099 scabs. It’s the same public-private partnership as ever. Mussolini had a name for it, the same name hysterical liberals (sic) throw at Donald Trump every time he mouths off like a freak about some meaningless distraction.

Disengage from this matrix. Do your own thinking. Mouth off at them in the privacy of your car whenever the talking heads say something obnoxiously divisive or are just being assholes again. It works for me.

Better, turn that shit off and get on the bus. In this house we observe the Wesleyan Traditions. In your house you might as well, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kinda cucked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think. I hold too many thots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These conditions make her a better servant, yes?

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cops know

It’s curious how so many violent weirdos are able to carry on with impunity right in front of the police: Dahmer, Pickton, DeAngelo, Wortman, Tsarnaev, Abdulmutallab. Concerned citizens can beg the police to investigate them in the disappearances of missing loved ones, for naught. Other countries’ cops can alert their counterparts through official channels with prophetic warnings of looming attacks: what he did here today he may do there tomorrow, and then, whaddaya fuggen know, Boston gets bombed.

Nobody could have predicted it. Oddly, the FSB did exactly that. That cat has an anger management problem, and he’s running with the beards back home. The Russian security services think he may mean his adoptive homeland harm? You don’t say!

In the Tsarnaev case, the feds iced the meathead principal, iced some contacts with knowledge or involvement, and are itching to ice the kid brother for being a patsy and a whipped little bitch. Gee, maybe one of the tens of thousands of G-Men who didn’t give a shit about what Tamerlan Tsarnaev thought about them because they weren’t his terrified little brother would have been in a better position than poor Dzhokhar was to stop him. I thot that was why we paid them.

Nah, face it, Jack. We know better than that. These things we cherish above Ruby. Up against the wall, signora, if you’ve got space for my book in your depository.

I got sideshowed on my way to the BART station today. Friday, three in the afternoon, jaywalkers everywhere, and some asshole was doing donuts in a stolen hot red Porsche on MacDonald Avenue. I was going to miss my train out of Richmond regardless, and all I got in the end was a free round tripout of Millbrae on Caltrain after one of our sister trains struck a car at a grade crossing around Hayward Park. The transit scene was fubar. The sideshow was the scary part. I stayed calm, and thank God our boy was competing in it as an individual sport. It could have been worse.

/Borat Voice/ My part-time wife chicksplained to me that sideshow cars are stolen. Duh. Always. Whaddaya mean, always? When Lisa Novak goes for a drive, it depends. That explains how fourth-generation welfare claimants living in ramshackle tenements can afford Escalades and Beamers. They come by them the old-fashioned way.

She knows about these things. My woman has an ear to the ground. She showed me a video of an all-night sideshow in Oakland, ten hours of uninterupted footage of caterwauling, twerking, donuts, and honky–I mean, honking. I can’t white see how that happened. You may not be able to say wop on NPR (Andrew Cuomo is!), but you are, indeed, allowed to say WAP. Schitt, Huizenga, oil beef hooked on anything but phonics. I saw enough of that video after two minutes. It was boring. YouTube has ten-hour cab videos of winter train trips across Norway. Still, the white boy can have a little doofus in a gold chain clowing around on the hood of a Mercedes, as a treat.

/BV/MPTW says the sideshow districts are no-go zones for the police. The cops don’t have the courage, physical or moral, to confront the mob. It tracks: they’re barely brave enough to answer the door at the cop shop armed and in full uniform. It’s like they say about the Crips: they’re blue, but they aren’t Blue Shield. It’s good to know that one of the infinite duties the police do not in any meaningful or, God forbid, binding way have is the duty to break up all-night hooligan takeovers of public streets using stolen motor vehicles. You know, #TeshTips, that kind of thing. Our police chiefs would fire Anirut Malee for keeping the peace, not the law.

One might wonder about the capabilities of our police agencies’ proliferating helicopters and BearCats and CCTV cameras and shit to interdict stolen vehicles on their way to sideshows. Shouldn’t these lavishly appointed outfits be able to use their fun toys to stop stolen cars from being driven to sideshows, say, on the probable cause of the registered owner who reported his Maserati stolen out of Piedmont affying that he did not give the current driver permission to drive it to 98th Street? Well, uh. There was a time a few years ago when the only type of crime increasing in San Diego was auto theft. The insurance companies demand their paperwork. There’s no paperwork for threatening to murder protesters for tailing the vans carrying their freshly blackbagged comrades.

Some of these pathologies are in fact particular to local cultures. There are police departments that fire bad cops. There are others that hire the shitcanned as lateral transfers. Constituents had to storm the city council chambers in Fairfield the other day to get their officials to do something about the serial killer thug they’d hired out of Vallejo, one of the homies with the bent points on his star.

In LA, where bitter, hard-aged young men with Huey hours came home to their pick of police work and television work, they do chases. Everybody wants to be a star, Fuhrman. They all want to be stars. Send me a goddamn picture postcard you blotchy creep. No matter how many choppers were on the trail, the LAPD’s ground patrols always ended up escalating the aftermath of their botched traffic stops until their erstwhile quarry crossed a dozen city lines, cleanly felled a palm tree onto an electrical line, and Russell Wellered a six-year-old into a Yoshinoya. Bill Bratton showed up from New York, took a look at this whatthefuckular bullshit, and ordered an end to it. His cops mostly complied, or so the papers said.

The East Bay does sideshows. They’re a team sport. It’s hard to say what it’ll take to stop them, but doing nothing ain’t it. This isn’t a case of standing down when some poor schmuck with a drug warrant gets triggered and flees a traffic stop for a broken taillight. It takes a force to defeat a force.

Or, as we discussed above, the cops could nip that shit in the bud. They’re already contact-tracing every kid in the neighborhood for gang affiliations, real or spurious. Of course, they could also do something about the murders, too, say, by intervening when somebody they know has beef is getting openly agitated. They could tell the hothead’s target to hop in for his own safety and ride out the storm. The violence isn’t senseless. It’s the inevitable reaction of feuds with weapons.

The cops know this. The overtime must be better on homicide than it is on patrol.

Any affluent city policed in the fashion of Oakland would recall its entire government within the year. The Palo Alto Police Department does not allow its officers to ignore car theft reports and fuck up their homicide investigations so they can focus on precrime augury on neighborhood kids’ Instagram accounts and violent jumpouts. No, asshole, you’re here to STOP street crime. Police departments in rich areas don’t have the latitude to blame violent crime problems on prostitution and drugs. They’re forced to investigate actual fucking crimes, not just complain that Kenneth Fitzhugh was loaded on coke and probably motorboated it off strippers sometimes.

That’s what monogamy gets you, boys.

Not for one second do I believe that the Richmond Police were unable to stop that asshole from doing donuts in front of me and dozens of pedestrians on a crowded city street in broad daylight. As we were told some months ago at a Gavin Gabbin, we’re decisions, not conditions. Our cops choose to be bad at both. Those who fire together wire together, and we can all see how our cops have become wired. They’re guard labor for capital, but they can hardly be bothered to do work for the insurance companies.

/Most civic Roger Schafer Spanish Space Program ground control voice/ I didn’t do shit to the bomb! I was cutting government waste!

D mock crass, see cunt in you (D)

Ayelet Waldman announced that she would not be donating to low-income heating funds this winter because too many of her neighbors in Maine fly Trump regalia off their trailers, then passive-aggressively reversed course and announced that she would be pretending not to hate the beneficiaries of her charity, which she was performing to the glory of Joe Biden. Since we’re here to talk about existential threats of a sociopolitical nature, verifiable or hallucinated, I’ll mention that I’m Jewish enough to construe Waldman’s vile outburst as a minor and latent but unsettling existential threat to me, but as they say about sex in Maine, it’s all relatives.

Besides, I try not to be a whiny little bitch. As Colby Cosh would say, uh, you’re some douche with a Twitter account. What are you gonna do, post cringe about me? Waldman’s is the language of a person accustomed to bossing other people around. In this case, the uppity were gentile Mainers daring to show the audacity of the caucasity while Waldman indulged in the audacity of cope. In other cases it’s black and brown people, but we try not to talk about that. We’re members in good standing of the Society for the Prevention of Kwesi Millington for Sheriff.

They’re throwing furniture all over Silverado Trail again. Juice do you copy?

Again, the Beans of Egypt are not why Trump is president, but also again, the cope crew are hella squeamish about blaming their fellow affluent for anything, aside from certain classes of Optimate attacks on the Brahmin affluent (see: Turner, Brock). I’m persuadable on a case-by-case basis that the poor voted for the Donald, but I demand evidence, and just as importantly I demand context. Like, how many laid-off green chain roustabouts living in single-wides out in the pine barrens voted for Trump versus how many shitheads with yacht dealerships?

Mind you, Boater Nation can afford its oil bills. There goes your precious leverage, rich girl.

There’s supposedly been some impressive monkey business in a number of Democratic boss wards this year. Believe it or not, I don’t much care about electoral politics anymore, which must be why I write so much about it, so either way, clean or crooked, the Shit Done Gone Down on the Streets of Philadelphia I’ve triaged to tertiary priority at best. That’s the thing, Milton. We might as well spend more time with our ladyfriends out in Moorestown and less time on that crap. We are going to have an atrocious presidential administration for the next four years either way. What gives me hope is the unpredictable but palpable energy for direct action to do what none of those four shitheads and their entourages will ever do in the public interest.

What I find most interesting about the election, rather, is that it’s so gross. Admit it: That’s why you come here. It’s just like they teach in Outward Bound. The mistake is to fight the tide of filth. Hang ten and you’ll ride it out. *Guy Hagi midnight forecast voice* See you out in the Pacific!

A great example of the season’s grossness, almost as bad as the Holy Roman Empire of “coffee,” the Pumpkin Spice Latte (so, so sic), is the Biden-Harris First Saturday victory party. Either you believe in norms and wait for the concession call, or you don’t and you don’t. Try to square the circle and you’re just Rob Ford insisting that he soberly smoked crack. Our big boy had more self-respect than that. He knew he was round, not square. The Norms Respecters of our Restoration Party wouldn’t even wait 96 hours to do their touchdown dance. They’re promising to govern us, so I say that’s a bad sign.

It’s an unfortunately appropriate time for some All-American whataboutism, given the greater Trump campaign’s efforts to fix the election, if less successfully so than last time around. Still, trump is 100% right not to concede until he’s had his canvasses, recounts, and audits. First State Skull Pudding and his executrix declared victory based on some wire service election calls. That’s like saying that I just got into conductor school because my sister-in-law says I know too much about trains not to apply.

Humor me if I’m in no mood to listen to any more horseshit from or on behalf of those two about how they too passionately cherish our norms and institutions and (God help us) processes to give one inch to Big Orange. And demanding a recount isn’t a coup. Where the hell do they come up with this hysterial nonsense? Does that huge soft loaf LOOK like he’ll barricade himself in the White House and bar the door against an eviction party of US Marshals? Chill out. All he’s gonna do is grandstand and whine. If the standing nonprosecution agreement (cool, another norm) is breached, he’ll flee to Dubai or whatever. Remember, from Japan’s perspective, Carlos is still ghosn.

Meanwhile we also have to hear insulting shtick about how Gropey Joe is working-class. Joe don’t know jack about ball bearings, strikes, and the riot police. That’s a working-class game where the cops might want to check the stables for some “spares.”

You may say neigh; I say /Monty Robinson field statement voice/ Yeah, that’s it. The kid skidded his bike on some marbles.

Hungter Bangin

Gee, the Biden kid is an embarrassment, huh. Democrats are good half-assedly liberal careerist strivers, so we get to listen to their awkward insistence that it’s normal for a dissipated satyr with no professional or educational background in much of anything get corporate board positions paying $50k a MONTH when his father just happens to be the sitting vice president. The kid must have brought something to the table, they say. We don’t just hand out sinecures to the degenerate adult children of crooked government officials, like Nigeria or something. Joe’s no crook!

Uh, have you taken a look at the “state” he represented? I’m sure his staunch belief in personal responsibility for things other than being a huge sex pest, in particular financial contracts entered into as a result of fradulent lender statements, has nothing to do with his decades representing the state where every sleazy corporation imaginable domiciles itself in a storefront mailbox like it’s Mark Judge. This shit isn’t hard to piece together. Hunter Biden acts like the barely functional ne-er-do-well child of any particular tinpot corporate satrap with natural resources cursing his constituents and a Swiss bank account to show for it because that’s exactly what he is. The main difference is that Delaware is a conduit for bribes securing wealth extracted from productive work elsewhere, not itself a country with natural or, as they say, human resources worth exploiting for all they’re worth and secreting the ill-gotten proceeds abroad. It’s Switzerland, but just in the seediest, most dysfunctional possible ways.

The Trump campaign is right that Hunter is a massive scandal. In any normal election, Joe would be toast. To paraphrase Billy Currington, I don’t know much about clearin’ out bogs; I don’t know much about millin’ big logs; I don’t know much about fightin’ mean dogs; but I’m pretty good at postin’ hog. My “I did not lie around in bed all day smoking crack and getting a foot job” T-shirt raises a number of questions already answered by my shirt. Nobody living in the real world who wants to present as upstanding, or even the least bit normal, would give that fuckup brat a position of any public profile, ever.

The problem, for the Trump campaign, is that the complaints about Hunter Biden are coming from the Trump campaign. Hypocrisy doesn’t begin to convey the absurd incredibility of anyone in that family for calling Hunter Biden a degenerate crook. In 2016 they were able to argue, fairly credibly, that Hillary hated people who worked with their hands for a living. She was visibly uncomfortable around hardhats; Trump was enthusiastic, unliike Her. This time, they’re fuming about how that bastard Hunter does nothing but get money for nothing in fake jobs, get strippers into trouble, and smoke crack. That’s a decent description of Donald Trump and his three oldest children, excluding the incest. Hunter may be the most louche son of a bitch I’ve ever seen, but he doesn’t seem as crazy as Don Jr. or Ivanka, or as dumb as Eric.

None of the four of them is employable. Don and Ivanka come relatively close, but like a lot of rich kids–here I mean really rich, not some slacker whose father was a dentist–they dick around in make-believe jobs that will never let their nominally earned income drop anywhere near the high five figures. The sourcing of Hunter’s wages of crookedness through shakedowns of sovereign governments is damning, but it’s really no worse than the Trump Organization doing whatever it had to do to rehabiitate paterfamilias with his coarse let’s-play-office TV show, defrauding students through Trump University, stiffing creditors and contractors under the auspices of its ostensibly bankrupt money laundering fronts, and of course lavishing the useless Trump kids and various cronies with the proceeds.

This money and credit, and the resources they claim as media of exchange, are parasitically extracted from working people: dentists, machinists, winery and vineyard workers (whaddup dawg), strawberry pickers, foot job masseuses. None of these assholes lives anywhere in the vicinity of the real world. I feel decadent for pigging out on Snyder’s honey mustard sourdough pretzel bits and Safeway cinnamon rolls on days when I do six, seven, eight, or sometimes ten hours of physically and mentally demanding vineyard and winery work. Do I earn a quickie with thicky trick for doing that? Financially, lmao hell no; cosmically or karmically, I think so. Compared to our candidates and their useless spawn? God yes.

It’s a common theme in postmodern American life, but deserve has jack shit to do with jack fucking shit. Hunter Biden gets to lounge around with a crack pipe in his mouth and a whore’s feet on his schlong because he’s in a position to extort money on his father’s behalf. The Trump kids and their spouses get direct sinecures in the family company–these days it’s the White House–because daddy is a rich Republican. That’s what rich Republicans do: They give their fuckup children and children-in-law sinecures. Rich Democrats actually believe in meritocratic horseshit for their children, or at the highest levels some sham of it, such as the premise that Hunter was qualified to sit on corporate boards. In general, it pays better to be the useless shithead child of Republican shitheads, not the useless shithead child of Democratic shitheads. The succinct explanation (maybe too succinct) is that Democrats hate their own children.

We aren’t about to have anybody in or around the White House whose means of support or mode of living is not utterly alien to ordinary Americans. Trump, Pence, Biden, Harris: Not one of these ghouls is tempted to do an honest day’s work. Pence is somehow the closest of the four, but every frame I saw of his shifting but constant sneer at the VP debate convinced me that he considers the vice presidency his due, not his honor to hold or his duty to execute. He looked like he was submitting to the imposition of explaining himself to the ungrateful filthy peasants tasked with reelecting him in the worst possible ill humor. Trump is a lifelong flimflammer. Harris is a socially climbing psychopath.

Biden did once have that lifeguarding job, the one where he swung the length of chain at Corn Pop. Yes, Joseph, thank you for sharing that with the class.

These are Irish Catholic family values. The Trumps are right that it’s bullshit, but they’re the last ones who should be complaining about it. Must we really hear it from them? Are we seriously to believe that they have a scrap of moral superiority to the Bidens? Mother of Christ, Huizenga, oil beef hooked the hole why bach to Tipperary to foal fur such a crock o shite.

Disincentives to work

My parents and I drove through Tamaqua on our way north from Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. It was my idea. Two of the most resourceful rednecks I’ve ever encountered were from Tamaqua, and I was interested in seeing their hometown, to see what made them what they were.

It is not the right stuff. Tamaqua is one of the most overpowering shitholes I’ve ever transected. It’s rundown, it’s depressing, it has worse traffic than most of Philadelphia, and it has a lot of extremely shady characters hanging out on the porch. Tamaqua is the sociology of Albuquerque stuffed into a half-abandoned neighborhood in Pittsburgh where the trees have all been mowed down. *Extremely “Lebanon’s Looking Up!” Voice* Naw, yous can get work at the warehouse if yous pass the drug screen and have open availability; don’t go rawnd sayin’ we never offered yous nothin’.

Other common things to do for a living in Tamaqua include nothing. I 100% seriously suspect trust fund beneficiaries have a lower rate of unemployment than Tamaquans. We hear about unemployed rich kids more than unemployed poor kids for a number of reasons, most of them involving the very toxic “hustle” culture. That used to be an unambiguously pejorative word, by the way, an epithet for transient characters who might need to roll up their carpetbags and leave town within the hour to escape the wrath of their newly wise victims. Nice racket you were running there, pal; shame if you happened to the ship channel. On Soviet Staten Island, Van Kull kills YOU!

The agitprop to admire proles who live in poverty as a consequence of their 80-hour workweeks and resent trust fund kids for living decently without working is aimed at middle-class normies, or at least at people who, as we call it in this country, work. There are underclass families in this country who lost the plot a generation or two ago. Their deep story, to the chagrin of business owners who would theoretically hire them, is a more honest and cynical one: work is for suckers. Cousin Gigolo and his mother subscribe, and they both have payroll work histories. He’s cleared minimum wage, too, just not by turning tricks. Mom burned down her trailer for the insurance money. I believe she was a sheriff’s dispatcher. One of the local drunks sold the work boots the welfare department gave him and went drinking. That was back in some shit like 1965.

It’s not like the poor or the lower middling have always worked, or the idle rich have not. The rich are the ones who really benefit from getting jobs. They’re the ones who score the good conditions, the good pay, and the prestige. They’re always banging on about how they eat what they kill, unlike their siblings and classmates who are lazy but actually depressed by vice of not being psychotic. Their stories are bullshit: the reason they’re in i-banking or power sales or whatever the hell is that their parents are loaded and networked. If you want to be quality, surround yourself with quality, or have your parents surround you with it from cradle to graduate school, since I guess that’s how we classify third-tier MBA programs. Mind you, I’m a mere bachelor of history who’s never had the drive to pursue a master’s degree in Dale Carnegie Studies. I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you ignore me, then flip your shit at me when I ridicule your shitty friends for being yuppies?

Here’s a point of comparison: Are 10% of my prep school or college classmates unemployed and adrift? No way. Are 10% of working-age Tamaqua residents? Probably. We can’t trust the statistics because they’re dry-labbed, and we can’t trust local employers because they’re puffed full of shit about their own superiority to the indolent proles they keep saying they’d hire.

Tamaquans aren’t poor because they don’t work; they don’t work because they’re poor. The 1% or 5% or whatever it is of trust fund beneficiaries who actually disengage from the payroll job market are easily more marginal to their class than the 10-30%–shit, maybe more–of working-age people who crash out in hard-hit rustbelt shitholes like Tamaqua. Imperial County’s U-3 rate fluctuated seasonally between about 15% and 30% before the Rona, which is odd because everyone knows Mexicans love to work, but that’s exactly it: piss-poor campesino lettuce cutters and their children are the only workers eager enough for work to jump quantum out of U-6 when they can’t find any and get themselves recorded in the figures published for the normies.

There’s no money in working. It’s for a reason that insolvent Anthracite Country municipalities have been sprouting so many nonunion warehouses. Endemic poverty and official corruption make these facilities viable in spite of the extra transportation costs of sorting freight on remote mine landfills without railheads. Recruitment isn’t a bust. People need the money.

Some of the old-school blue-collar locals need the work per se psychically to an extent that’s rare outside Anthracite County and other heavy industrial regions. Before long, though, the work ethic gets spread thin. The postindustrial nonunion shops blow sunshine up everybody’s ass about how great it is to work for them, and residents who are honest with themselves recognize the injury and insult they face from these companies as a sucker’s bet.

When I lived in Lebanon County as a teenager, I was always coming across happy horseshit about how great it was to work at, say, the chicken packinghouses in Fredericksburg. Hersheypark, where I actually worked, paid less than the chicken plants–I think–but not by much. Mercifully, only the dumbest (and, I assume, best-paid) assholes in the company gave a shit about the Hersheypark Happy bollocks. HR didn’t entirely act like we were just there to run the deep fryers, but the rest of us had the good sense to know it and act the part. We were within spitting distance of minimum wage, and our immediate supervisors’ wages were within spitting distance of our own. By God this carny shit was a job, not a career.

The amount of this sponsored content I encountered for shit-tier votech tracks where the Puerto Rican ladies on the floor were all so happy because they changed spots every two hours to prevent repetitive stress dropped off a cliff after I transferred to the Day School, where Everyone’s A Wiener (TM). Like hell did anyone there want any of us ending up pulling crop all day for eight bucks an hour. They were paid to keep us off the floor, just like the Lebanon Daily News and the counselors back at Cedar Crest were paid to shunt the slow kids from the poor corners of the district off to Bell & Evans. Ironically, that gig at least pays. Yanqui can’t afford to be picky about stuff like getting a paycheck and some damn FICA if he wants farm jobs, is alls I’m saying. Of course nobody on the prep circuit wanted any of us ending up below the station of an i-banker or maybe a cardiologist’s wife. Oops lol.

Everybody who pays a second’s attention to the schools know this. Places like Tamaqua get the ass end of the deal. The townies can tell when their governments don’t think they’re worth half a shit to society. They know for a fact, and a correct one, that their government and the rich pigs who bought it wouldn’t have hung them out to dry in a failing county full of played-out mines, failing infrastructure, and poverty-wage right-to-work shops if they cared about their welfare one damn bit. The state shows which constituents it despises and prefers dead by exposing itself to them exclusively through tinpot tyrants in the schools, the welfare offices, the criminal “justice” system, and the DMV. The rich don’t get anywhere near such a raw deal. Most of them live around each other in the metropoles to assure it.

As I’ve often poined out in some fashion or other, this is one of Donald Trump’s great political strengths in the Rust Belt. No shit there are racists in Schuylkill County, but I thought we were trying to distinguish it from Santa Monica. The high-turnout local notables in the Anthracite Country broke about the same way they always do everywhere in 2016: this time for their fellow Republican business shyster, not the usual starve-the-beast Republican zealot who tries to grease them with some tact. Much of Trump’s working-class base, however, and likely most of it, had an equally savvy reason to vote for him. At last they had a major-party candidate who bluntly called out the entire political system as a huge fraud and racket instead of blowing endless sunshine up their asses about how the system works just fine and would do them wonders if only they changed everything about their lives.

Political parties do NOT tell voters whose support they value to change themselves. The GOP does not tell its local notables to stop being shysters who routinely commit wage theft and use their businesses as collateral for their drug habits. The Democratic Party does not tell its PMC strivers to stop being shitty freaks who need to chill out about college. They’d cashbomb the shit out of workaday–and loafaday!–Tamaquans if they valued their votes. Scolding the locals for being unambitious, clingy to their roots, and set in their ways is a way of saying Wee Haidt,, Yoo. Hunky crack coal; message: we don’t care.

Rather, hunky cracked coal. And Lord have Mersey on your fairy ass if you don’t suppose a Pollock ever had a bad thing to say about his fellow Slav.

The Brahmins need to hear this. There are worse, in fact much worse, things for a politician to be in a washed-up rustbelt shithole than a boorishly vulgar playboy who pretends to be rich for a living and flimflams his way into getting bottomless cash and credit dumped into his lap. For real, I was around and some cases personally knew people in Central Pennsylvania who owned, among other businesses, Maier Bread, Ward Trucking, and Turkey Hill. I have one degree of separation from the fucking Sheetzes. Yes, I mean exactly the Sheetzes you have in mind, not that my career is made-to-order lmao fml. I have never known or even known of anyone in Central Pennsylvania who acts like Donald Trump. Dude’s alien, even if his son-in-law is REALLY alien.

Hillary Clinton is another matter. She’s a very serviceable example of what made people in places like Tamaqua hate school. Plenty of rich people in rich areas also hate power-hungry incomptents who lord it over those they were hired to serve, but the rich get results for putting up with them. Tamaqua is poor. Hillary would fit in as a principal or a district attorney, and provincials who salivate over DA’s screwing the proles over hate Hillary.

Do we still wonder how Trump won Schuylkill County?

Affluenza cases who ringfence their entire lives to hoard all the good shit don’t like dealing with ill-tempered, capricious tinpot authority figures, either, as we learned from Operation Varsity Blues. Rick Singer got er done, and he wasn’t particularly unpleasant about it. In the poor, left-behind (TM) districts, the sacrifice zones, much of the population cannot remember an interaction with an authority figure that wasn’t bad. Their cops are thugs, their bosses are passive-aggressive assholes or outright predators, social services clerks give them the runaround and look down on them, their schoolteachers think they’ll never amount to a thing, and preachers look at them as something between embarrassing lost causes and two-bit revenue streams. It doesn’t play in Schuylkill County to be a cringe mashup of a pearlclutching church lady, a schoolmarm, a detention monitor, and a guidance counselor who’s always telling the poor kids to consider an exciting career in logistics, i.e., get paid shit to slave away in a warehouse up by the freeway while the company bathes in tax breaks for being a “job creator” with 0% collective bargaining in its shops.

The Donald may have lead poisoning, but Hillz looks down on Anthracite Country for having a case. Trump’s hardhat shtick was always crude and usually vague, but it worked under an assumption of high union penetration: jobs everywhere, money everywhere, shove it up their shaft if they try again to shut down the mine. More to the point, like any other constituency in, say, Bethesda or Streeterville, poor voters in Tamaqua want their elected officials to fucking do something for them. In coal country, that means, well, what else are you thinking besides coal?

Not much of the locals ain’t it, Hillz.

A Trading Places deal between Tamaqua and Chevy Chase Section Five would get Tamaqua’s government recalled within the month. I can’t say this enough: the affluent DO NOT put up with that degrading shit. The only ones who dabble in it are local notables who prefer to stick around town and lord it over the local poor until they’re even worse degraded than to move somewhere with a decent quality of life in exchange for modestly less power.

Like all other politics, this is about power. Does ya gots it or doesn’t ya? Rich liberals are pissed off at provincial hardhats for voting FOR their own interests, not against them. Trump intermittently threatens portfolios and destabilizes the force fields of clout around other ungodly rich and vain celebrities. Crucially, he does it in a way that makes politics look disreputable, as our politics most assuredly are. Trump pisses Washington off for crashing its party at the invitation of mere constituents. To the extent that ordinary voters in Schuylkill County are aware of ghouls like HR McMaster and John Bolton, it’s as the guys who got their friends shipped home from the desert as hamburger meat.

It’s awful that people who never catch a break because every level of government constituted to serve them has deliberately failed them don’t care about the pronouncements of the Intelligence Community about Vladimindcontrol Putin. Pissing a bunch of Beltway scolds off is more than they usually get from their officials.

Tamaqua in an extreme but by no means unique example of a community that gives its citizens no reason to invest one minute in maintaining the system. I’ve spent enough time in nearby parts of Pennsylvania to be pretty sure that if I were from Tamaqua I’d throw up my hands and walk away from it rather than try to fix it. There is a LOT of misgovernment around there. Something had to go pretty fucking wrong for multiple levels of duly constituted sovereign government to produce the slums of inner-city York and Lancaster, the north and east sides of Harrisburg, or Reading in general. For God’s sake Harrisburg is the state capital! It’s a seat of government, and no government with jurisdiction over it can keep it inhabitable for a population of under 50,000!

When full-time employment in productive, physically demanding jobs leaves people living like that, it’s hard to seriously conclude that the answer is to get a job. No, just take a fucking look around and tell me that a reasonable resident of this shithole would consider it worth working to fix and not instead demanding that one or more of the governments aggressively asserting sovereignty over it steps up to the goddamn plate for once.

While we’re at it, let’s not kid ourselves about what bougie normies mean by “work.” That’s what they call 3-4 hours of identifiable work over the course of roughly 8 hours between an air-conditioned office and air-conditioned vehicles. If we’re using the same words to describe the job duties of a strawberry picker, a dentist, a good-looking lazy bullshitter who styles himself an internist, and an utterly no-account college administrator, we’re using words that don’t mean shit. Grossing $160k to sit around an office in Plymouth Meeting filling out Phillies backseat coaching schematics for six hours and looking up insurance law questions for fifteen minutes is “work” the same way Carley Gomez is “my girlfriend.” Gimme a fucking break, Stossel.

These don’t seem like characters who should be questioning my work ethic or work history, or those of anyone else in this country who occasionally pulls weeds, so of course they’re the ones with all the clout and all the civic power.

The night before my parents and I drove through Tamaqua, a friend took me out to dinner in East York. He’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had, but mercy the fucking normcore. He does office work and (mostly?) light field work for a commercial real estate company with a middling regional property portfolio. I’m not clear about how much of his job is actually work. However much it is, it seems to give him a lot more downtime than any farm or yard job I’ve ever had. “I’m clearing a blackberry patch. Okay, I’m mostly just standing around in a half-daze looking at what I haven’t cut, listening to another excruciating hour of NPR for some awful reason.” Come to think of it, yet again, this is what I have to keep reminding myself. Every hour I spend picking blueberries or clearing invasive weeds is a good 40-50 minutes more than some of my classmates spend over the same period walking down the hall to the Keurig machine.

Again, what we’re trying to keep straight here is what the hell is work. It seems to mean about as much as “conservatism.” It’s only Maine Family Values if they’re Mainers; otherwise it’s just Flinty Incest. That’s what the French call an Appalachian D’Origine Controllee. /Most Immigrant Paul LePage Voice/ If I was them I wouldn’t let me into the gene pool, either. The French–not the Quebeckers; figure that lot out for your damn self–the French, since we’ve been mentioning them an unseemly amount, aren’t lazier than us. They’re about as productive; they just aren’t lying showoffs about it. Did it take some work to drive this tractor into Paris? Oui. Did it take some work to hose the agriculture ministry building down with this tank of liquefied cowshit? Mais oui. Are there leftovers? Hon hon hon, is food for piggy!

It is to protest. Shitposting isn’t exactly work, but it isn’t exactly not work, so call it what you will. Two hours a day doing concerted but easy work is a far cry from eight doing mentally and physically taxing work. Our national language makes zero distinction.

Am I trying to say that we’re right to make fun of our compatriots for being lazy or underworked? If they’re loud about their full-time employed status or work ethic, uh, yes I am.

My normie friend’s complaints had to do with the CARES Act, specifically with the way the $600 weekly unemployment benefit “disincentivized work.” I interjected, “and it saved a lot of people’s lives,” and he pushed on: “Yeah, but it disincentivized work.” Shucks, I guess we lost the plot there. In rough economic terms, what keeps the poor alive is consumption, not production, and we produce so much stupid and destructive shit that if we retooled and redeployed workers who are already producing we could add to our already large reserves of /astonished Ethiopian bus driver voice/ stuffs. Besides, too much of it is made in China to take seriously the claim that our rulers want us to be producers, as opposed to the consumers they won’t stop prodding us to be.

Some commercial tenants had told my friend that nobody is even turning in applications. They’re always complaining about that shit and they would best plead their case by shutting the fuck up about it. One of these stores was Dollar General. While we’re on the subject, fuck your Dollar General. My friend said some of the stores were paying a $12.00 minimum wage, which is possible but not convincing when Sheetz is trying to hire managers at only $13.50. Maybe they’d get more applicants by paying employees more. Maybe retail supervisorial responsibilities should start at $15 or $18 an hour. Dollar General might be able to recruit clerks at a starting wage of $20 in its capacity as a soul-sucking shithole. Sometimes it’s just the money, but not always.

The gist of this whining is that the economy owes these fuckheads people who show up as ordered and work as ordered in exchange for compensation packages that won’t keep them safely afloat. Every fucking time they try to make their own recruitment easier, they go for punitive measures that threaten the health, welfare, and lives of employees, not for reforms that would make it possible for anyone who feels like working to work without fear of immiseration, impossible paperwork, and denial of public benefits. They could push for everybody to get a government guarantee of publicly-subsidized healthcare free at the point of service with no questions about billing: Medicare for All, check this box if you want Medicaid, whatever, just not the snowballing horror show we’ve been suffering through for decades. They could push for $600 a week for everybody, the money and the cash that we all welcome in a manner fully allowing and in fact encouraging us to additionally welcome the money and the cash of payroll work. Instead they’re all No Soup For You.

They’re always moaning that these measures would cost money. Yeah, genius, like everything else. The government isn’t stopping them from evading taxes by working for cash under the table–as a practical matter, this goes unenforced–or heading to Eugene in a VW bus and bartering it for a barrel of pickles. What’s stopping that is the desire not to be wheeling a fucking barrel of pickles down Highway 126 like Tom Joad when the truck breaks down. A handful of marginal freaks want a thing to do with any of that. Some things are pricelessly stupid and stupidly priceless. For everything else, there are media of exchange.

Somehow the military-industrial complex and the carceral system don’t register very loudly for businesspeople and their more gung-ho managers as huge public money sucks. What registers for them at earsplitting volume is the waste of giving ordinary citizens public benefits that they’ll mostly plow back into the productive economy, e.g., the businesses they complain they can’t staff. If they think their tax dollars specifically are going to pay for public benefits, they’re nuts. Leaving aside the merits of modern monetary theory, their taxes are being pooled with hundreds of millions of other people’s taxes and some measly shit like 5% of that pool is going to public benefits. Ian Welsh writes that it was more back when we had regular political bombings.

What they actually object to is the government providing for its own constituents in ways that keep them from having to subordinate themselves to people who mistreat them in jobs they don’t like. In causative terms, they expect the government to deprive the poor of their rations as a way to coerce them to work for others. In other settings, such a gratuitous, manipulative deprivation might veer into felony child abuse or a war crime. In this setting, it’s normal. It’s what we’ve always done.

So was slavery.

My dad lately loves to tell about how a hardware store owner he likes asked a couple of girls who had come into the store to apply for work what they planned to do with their lives. The girls appalled him by forthrightly telling him that they wanted to work for a bit and then go on welfare.

We might have more of an American work ethic if we had less of a Chinese export ethic, as displayed on the shelves of that very store. Please enjoy dumping, the traditional and typical of Chinese glorious industrial policy. Plus our dude asked the question. I didn’t need to take a confirmatory look around the county at, say, the quality of company my grandmother kept, to believe that he might not like the answer.

It would be awful to turn into a society where the degraded remnants of the working class go out on the street and sell the work boots they got from the welfare department for an afternoon’s drinking money. We were too proud and self-respecting to do a thing like that back in, like, 1970, when a friend of my grandmother’s boyfriend did exactly that not five miles from the same hardware store. To keep it clear (lol wut), that’s Cousin Gigolo’s grandfather’s buddy. The guy whose daughter and grandson both committed insurance fraud kicked it with a guy who fenced a pair of presumably shoddy boots the welfare department had given him so he’d get a job. I can’t imagine why other citizens of this fine community, where all but a few hundred yards of lakefront is owned by or in trust for out-of-towners who can afford to be jagoffs all summer, show limited interest in working for a living in a store whose merchandise was once made in American mill towns, quite possibly ones in the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys, but is now made in China because Americans don’t want to compete for the job.

Welfare is one way not to compete. The problem with decades of vile propaganda about how the American working class is lazy and overindulged is that some of the working class who are meant to react with shame instead react with renewed aspirations to collect a check just like Momma does. Oops. No shit there ends up being a black market of food stamps for bunks, government board for private room. What else are the losers supposed to do? Crime? That’s always an option, as Cousin Gigolo and his mother show.

No, I do not mean prostitution or drug dealing. That’s work. It’s fine to say that’s no basis for an economy, but neither are summer camps. Nobody who comments on this shit knows a damn thing about it. Pricing in this country is meaningless. The only thing backwards counties in rural Nebraska do is sell grain and meat on glutted commodities markets, depending for their survival on charity from the big cities. All you can do with foodstuffs is eat them.

NPR helpfully advises us that the government cheese program was inefficient. The government had to hire cheese graders, which no private bulk cheese purchaser ever does, and some of the cheese was substandard. Thank God we have to go to the government for shitty cheese that’s free and can’t just go pay for cheese that’s even worse at Walmart. Markets are the efficient way to allocate resources. They would never allocate bulk milk produced by our job-creating commodity dairymen into the Des Moines River starting no later than 1931.

If I were cynical, I’d posit that the entire welfare apparatus in the United States is designed to discourage gainful employment and then blame beneficiaries for being out of work. If the goal is for beneficiaries to get their shit together and get a job, how about not throwing their benefits into chaos when they do that? *Smug headtapping meme*

Our officials know this. They defy FDR’s wisdom about universal benefits because they seek to profit by sowing division among their constituents. Social Security and Medicare are popular because they’re structured to minimize resentment. Reach retirement age and they’re yours.

That’s only a modest simplification. Other programs get nonclaimants and rejected applicants hot and bothered about their neighbors’ free lunch. We wouldn’t need cashiers in our school cafeterias if we had one, come to think of it. There’d be less complaining about food stamp “abuse,” the usual shit about the lazy poor arrogating the right to buy steak at the IGA just because they have the money on their SNAP cards, if all it took to get the free grocery money were to put one’s name and mailing information on a form and sign it as an affidavit of one’s desire to welcome the money and the cash. Believe me: every millionaire currently living on canned beans in a shanty and bitterly complaining about food stamps for lobster would fill out the form and claim the gibs. That’s an extra few hundred a month to stuff into old Folger’s cans and National Geographic collections and leave around the shack, too deep in the junk for anyone else to scavenge. Not one of those miserable bastards turns down Social Security or Medicare, benefits paid for with their hard-earned tax dollars as much as any other function of government.

This shit is ridiculously straightforward. Want to encourage the poor to work? Eliminate all penalties on their reported earnings when they get jobs. Turn their earned income into a 100% marginal benefit on top of their welfare checks.

In fairness, this regime would put certain people out of work. Specifically, it would unemploy the legions of gatekeeping bureaucrats responsible for operating the means-testing regime. It would put the desk detectives out of work, or “work.” There’s no need to investigate welfare claims that are expressly lawful. They’ll be returned to the wellspring in the form of taxes if they’re going to anyone who isn’t poor or living deep under the table.

Jeff Bezos could file his own welfare claims, too, but he’s always too busy buying his payouts from corrupt government officials whose staffers are much obliged to fill out the necessary forms. These benefits keep ordinary people afloat. They are not how the rich piece together their fortunes. Please.

Universal or on-demand public benefits would free Americans to do some of the actual work that needs to be done around here. Tamaqua has more than its fair share of deferred maintenance. So do countless other Trump Country dumps. Means-testing doesn’t achieve the deferment of maintenance on its own, but it sure helps. Keeping people too busy on the phone with benefits clerks and too exhausted afterwards to do anything productive is a good way to keep a shithole down and dirty.

The real purpose of means-testing is to keep useless eaters and surplus labor more broadly employed (if they’re middle-class) or to cull them from the herd (if they’re poor and overwhelmed). Our rulers good and goddamned well know what they’re doing. They want the poor to have a life expectancy of perimenopause. Their family values talk is misdirection: at a minimum, they want the lower half of the elderly to be too poor to pay for a decent meal, just as they were when Social Security was first established. Fancy Nancy doesn’t want her fellow Italian grandmothers hanging around unless they have gelato money, just like herself, and she ain’t handing it out from the US Treasury.

We need to give up on the idea that hard work is how Americans get ahead. It isn’t enough for that to be true for half of Americans, or even two thirds. What about the other third? Guess they can go eat shit and die.

There’s basically no correlation. Dentists work hard, and lawyer-cop-politicians (the Democratic Party, as we now conceive of it) show up to do whatever it takes to brutalize and ruin their constituents and feather their own nests. This doesn’t answer why crooked flimflamming slavedrivers who’ve spent their careers catering to sadistic shakeddown artists deserve a dentist’s retirement fund and thirty-year veteran strawberry pickers don’t.

There are certainly plenty of no-account derelict scumbags and thugs who live in poverty and squalor, but their morals don’t dictate their station in life. Our Old McDonald friend Captain Flimflam could use his existing skillset to get rich running a cult. He’s a few barely perceptible tweaks away from being a pre-gas Shoko Asahara. The Ragin Canajun–who doesn’t dress like an Amishman and look like Bruce Springsteen, doesn’t bend over to cut a 20×20′ patch of wheat into hand-sized sheaves with a little pre-UFW scythe and then fuck off two hours and two valleys over for the night to lose money playing a $200 bar gig with his folk garage band, reliably shows up to tend his farm plots, disposes of piles of human waste when he encounters them instead of letting shit pile up to seat level of portapotties he’s agreed to have replaced, and is the farthest thing from shady trash–the Ragin Canajun is the one who’d have trouble getting ahead in that business if he tried.

America is a society that kinda sorta sometimes does code enforcement. It’d be a longshot to fill Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift in Palo Alto and then fly back to Raleigh, but that’s because it’s Palo Alto. Otherwise, it’s basically cool to charge rent on that mute twink’s pre-rural electrification shack and/or some weekly motels. There’s no stigma to preening that hard work explains one’s net worth when it’s a matter of easily provable fact that 60% of it is real estate inflation.

Work per se isn’t the chump’s game here. Do I sound lazy? I write this stuff on my own, but for the love of God if that sounds like a jagoff’s pastime I’ve personally operated an estate winery. This is pretty reputable in a country where it’s considered public service for one pervert to tell another pervert on live television, “Oh, you’re cool. You aren’t a pervert; she’s a lying tramp!” This is why we need Joe Biden, for the courts.

The chump’s game is acting like the system is owed a goddamned thing. The overclasses it’s structured to benefit don’t care about being productive as long as they get paid enough to compel their inferiors to do the work. Trump, Pence, Biden, and Harris all indulge in the same general mode of living: scamming and bullying their inferiors into doing the work. The Angola Penitentiary is literally, geographically a plantation. Senator Girlboss don’t mind. She likes it that way. Two slavedriving scumbag lawyers are running for the presidency and the vice presidency to unseat a mob money laundering frontman cum serial business cum intelligence asset (ours, not Vlad’s lol) and a talk radio grifter. Who the hell would enthusiastically do the work allowing any of these four to keep lounging around and bossing other people around? They deserve to go hungry until THEY come groveling to US. Withholding labor from them is righteous.

The last thing Joe Biden is is working-class. Half the people I know from around Philadelphia who talk like him are lawyers or cops or six-figure sales hustlers. His carrying-on about being from Scranton isn’t entirely false, but the implication is. His daddy never worked in the fucking mines. Dad was a transiently ruined bougie turned used car salesman. Joe’s the town mill owner’s kid who’s always up in his hardhats’ faces for giving him backsass and up in their wives’ privates at company events. American voters are willing to look past this, especially after what they forgave in 2016, but like his opponent, the guy’s a liar, a cheat, and an upper-crust rapist.

To no great surprise, people like them abandon the same troubled postindustrial districts our elected officials have been abandoning for the past two or three generations, depending on which left-behind dumps we’ve been abandoning and how young their girls get pregnant. Our rulers want the residents of these communities to move away to endure worse poverty away from their loved ones, die young, and raise just enough surviving adolescents to provide a suitable number of servants.

They do not want Tamaquans asserting a right to stay in Tamaqua and be given help getting by. That’s a privilege reserved for rich assholes in Chevy Chase. No lie, Billy, they have in fact taken all the coal from the ground, even burned met coal in steam locomotives to keep some rich bitches’ dresses white. In a civically healthy society this would be a reason to fund the maintenance that has been deferred in coal country and fund other economic development projects that actually fucking develop constituents’ economies. In what passes for American society these days, it’s an excuse to drive them into overpriced metropoles and into student debt, to deracinate them for purposes of private service.

It is what the Germans used to call an incentive to make free. These are cultural learnings of America for make benefit the worst possible people now. Thus has it always been. You get food to eat, but only as an incentive.