Millennials are driving less. The reasons why may surprise you–if you’re a pathologically sheltered dipshit who takes retarded thinkpieces at face value.

As I write this, I’ve just woken up from two successive nights sleeping in my car at rest areas, but I spent last night on the outskirts of Wilsonville, not five minutes from a classy-ass Starbucks, so fuck yeah. I have a car, so I drive, too much, actually, but I pay some fucking attention to how a wide variety of other people live, in the interest of not being a damn idiot, so I recognize my own good fortune to be able to pile a bunch of shit haphazardly into a not too heavily used Focus and not into a stolen shopping cart.

We’ve enjoyed some crude language already, so let’s enjoy some more, this time as part of a vicarious cold Chicago morning. Some Chicagoans live in the ghetto (in the ghetto); others get out of the ghetto on a regular basis to operate the CTA’s free fare program. I heard about this from a guy who chatted me up at the cell phone charging stations in front of the Metra ticket windows at Union Station, but it’s way the hell more credible than probably forty percent of what I read in any newspaper of record, so I believe it. The way the free fare program works is that a bum with a free unlimited CTA fare card will go up to Addison on Cubs game nights and call out, “Any of you white motherfuckers want to get on the train for free?” Because their black ally has accurately assessed the moral character of his White clientele (not much), the answer is oh fuck yes, more drinking money. The bum then swipes preppy shitheads through the turnstiles by the dozens in exchange for whatever tips they offer him; they’re loaded, often in both senses, so the tips can run into the hundreds of dollars an hour, but the bum usually quits within a few minutes, after he’s cleared about forty.

This is one of the least racist things to happen in Chicago. The White Community involved in this scam makes its contribution to the Society for the Prevention of Kwesi Millington for Sheriff. The bum isn’t meanspirited or bigoted for calling them white motherfuckers; he’s just making sure that he’s getting through to his target customer base, which is assuredly white, and most assuredly White, and isn’t exactly not motherfuckers. They all know that the farejumpers aren’t proper old church ladies. I don’t enjoy ripping off transit agencies, even badly run ones, so I wouldn’t Fly the W for being invited into a seedy racket like that, but I’m not a preppy Northside cocksucker. I’ve never been to Lakeshore Drive. The El doesn’t go there, and I’m always le tired when I visit because I’ve been humping luggage around after some redeye train ride or flight. What, me Royko? Also, I’ve seen some dystopian shit in Whole Foods and don’t expect it to get better if I wander even further north.

Seven generations from now, the CTA may have recovered from the Emanuel administration. RAHM SHANTI, RAHM HARE HARE. Fare-whoring bums aren’t crapifying the CTA by having loose morals with their cards. The assholes they’re swiping onto the El are doing more than their fair share as private citizens to screw over the system, but they’re still relative bit players. (Yes, I inevitably started to write that as “fare share.” Faaaaaahhk.)

The real trouble comes from the elected officials and cronies that the preppy fuckheads cherish in their municipal government. Rahm is surely steak-knife-into-the-table livid about the fare-whoring bums up at Addison, because they’re running an unauthorized paleoliberal racket under the auspices of at least two administrations of social democracy, not an authorized neoliberal racket under the auspices of a mayoral administration that gets schoolchildren killed on their way to school by closing their neighborhood schools and forcing them to cross rival gang territory. The bums can’t take part in some bullshit scam to give Metra riders free Uber rides for signing up for some app; getting driver’s licenses would get in the way of being severely mentally ill and drunk, and besides, parts of the El run all night. The guy who told me about the swiping scam said that the welfare authorities and the CTA probably figure they’re nutty as fuck, “Yeah, I’m gonna get on the bus five times in a row and then get on the train another three times.” I don’t doubt that they’re card-carrying members of the mental health community, because I know that they carry cards.

What I don’t know, and what the guy who told me about this racket didn’t say, is whether the police turn a blind eye to it on the Northside specifically in furtherance of white privilege and, for that matter, White privilege. Dude was mixed-race black and not squeamish about discussing racial problems, but that didn’t come up and I didn’t think to ask about it. I recall him making some comments indicating that the scam is allowed in racially integrated skid row neighborhoods, too, but some of what he said faded into my sleep-deprived haze, pursuant to Wow Much Travels.

So far we have white motherfuckers who are also embarrassingly White driving less because their brothers by very other mothers are there to swipe them on to the train. Some of them probably take the El in sober daylight hours, too. A friend of the Insurance Schmuck’s has been driving less because she totaled a car that her parents had bought for her in a drunk driving accident; since then, she has been commuting to work in Center City on the old R6, getting around Conshohocken on Uber, and still getting sloshed at the Great American.

Many of my other contacts in greater Philadelphia’s White Community, however, continue to drive all over hell. It takes a lot to get Americans out of their cars. SEPTA, by this reckoning, is not a lot. I still use it when I visit, and I can confirm that it kind of sucks. On dysfunctional lines and at bad times of day, it sucks major ass, and I’ve never tried to argue that it isn’t a great place to get work as a total numbskull. By contrast, the LA Metro Rail system has been exceeding ridership expectations. I’ve used LA Metro quite a bit, too, and it beats the shit out of almost anything that SEPTA runs, so I think that’s why. A cherished Angeleno car culture makes more sense to pop culture consumers in flyover country who never visit LA and to TV executives who live off Mulholland Drive than it does to anyone normal who tries to commute on the 101. Reason Online doesn’t change that by concern-trolling Metro and LA voters with dispatches from empty trains on the Expo Line on the first day of service. It didn’t take long for normies to notice that the line really worked and to start mobbing it.

LA now has excellent rail service in some areas and slow boat to China bus service in others. Philadelphia continues to have shitty transit service in many areas. San Diego continues to have a trolley system culturally fit for Tom Perez and Bill Durden and logistically fit for not a hell of a lot. It takes really good transit service to get affluent people who demand reliability out of their cars. If they vote for Rahm, that’s an oops for all of us. There will always be a hardcore minority of Kardashian-aspirant assholes who insist on taking limousines to clubs with bottle service, unless mass media trendsetters start recoding limos as trailer park trash trucks, but they’re marginal and susceptible to peer pressure holding that buses aren’t for losers anymore.

The obstacle to walkable neighborhoods, to arrangements like being able to safely stumble home blind drunk on account of Conshohocken’s geography, is speculative rentier parasitism, and that’s as American as apple pie and industrialists approaching Smedley Butler with coup proposals. It isn’t immutable; America has evolved from good to evil to good to evil in the past; but there’s a shitload of defensive, possessive, easily riled up, belligerent incumbent elites who have to be overcome if walkable urban planning is to be redemocratized.

The places where people without cars are left in the meantime can be pretty fucking ugly and difficult, even dangerous, to navigate. Remember, I live by the light rail station in Rancho. I don’t stay there, but I lives here; can I come in? Rancho is reasonably walkable for a suburban shithole, but it’s still sketchy and poorly appointed. Northeast Salem is much safer and sociologically upstanding, but its urban planning is worse. East Salem, trashier but no Rancho and certainly no transit-oriented San Diego, has been described to me as “Felony Flats;” it also has bad urban planning. There are densely populated streets in Salem with apartment complexes but no sidewalks.

The reason people in these neighborhoods get by without cars is that they cannot afford cars. It’s that simple. The Salem bus systems, Cherriots and CARTS (Scout’s honor, that’s what they’re called), don’t operate on weekends. Not a lot of people move out to Lancaster Drive to walk for their health.

Extrapolate this by a few thousand to account for all the other towns whose cores have been gentrified by hipster shitwads, and the implications for those displaced into the banlieue aren’t so groovy. The implications for declining motor fuel demand are pretty dystopian, too. Every time gas prices drop, Americans start trading in sensible cars for gas guzzlers again. We’re an awfully profligate people. If gas demand remains low in spite of this ostentatious waste, it makes sense that it’s because lower classes of Americans have been dispossessed from car ownership entirely. That’s a great way to kill fuel demand while still allowing those with enough credit or cash to continue to buy shiny jacked up crew cab pickups for the proper manful display of truck nuts.

No one at the farm where I work, staff or owner, drives anything of the sort. It’s because we aren’t useless assholes. It’s because we aren’t drugstore cowboys. We leave it to others to waste money on vain shit like that.

It goes to show that it’s easy enough for a country to be ruined and beggared by an aspirational ten or fifteen percent. All it takes is an organized, pushy minority, another minority that figures it may someday enjoy the same privileges, and a disorganized, apathetic majority that doesn’t particularly care for the bullshit but can’t figure out what it can possibly do to combat it. Why the hell should RV touring take precedence for policymakers over weekend bus service in cities of two hundred thousand? Because RVers vote; that’s why. As their bumper stickers brag, they’re spending their grandchildren’s inheritances.

Our leaders cater to those who demand things of them, and the circuit-riding senior bling crowd is demanding. Why wouldn’t it be? These are people who believe that they’ve earned the right to drive around in fucking buses. They believe that such a luxury can be earned. Some of them have the nerve to pretend that they’re of modest means while driving $200,000 rigs tens of thousands of miles a year. Bull fucking shit. Even if they bought their boomer cruisers on credit they can’t sustain, that’s no modesty.

We distribute the goodies unequally around here. It’s the Amway, I mean, the American Way. Borrowing from future generations, born already and yet to be, is some solid DeVos shit, too. We can’t all live on Wealthy Street. Some of us would have to expatriate to the Netherlands to become Dutch. Dick and Betsy don’t carry no paper ten-stamp Dutch Mafia card, dumbo. They don’t get their cream by the shot, and they aren’t the kind of white motherfuckers who are down for a welfare swipe onto the subway. America, America, God shed some dregs you don’t even want to imagine on this joint.

More Panera Democrats: different blame rules for different blame fools

The Democratic Party cannot organize anything like See You at the Pole. It hardly even has the discipline to stand back and allow a movement of the sort that is consistent with its purposes to do its thing without nitpicking interference or other neurotic distractions.

That the GOP has See You at the Pole and the Democratic Party has nothing analogous is telling, and damning of the Dems. See You at the Pole isn’t exactly a Republican movement, but it’s tactically and strategically shrewd and consistent with the goals of every significant extant faction of the Republican Party (get thee back to the hearth, Rockefeller; nice job locking up all the black folk for drugs, tho), and so Republicans of all remaining stripes work in concert with it, just as it works in concert with them. Secular movement conservatives don’t try to engage the flagside establishmentarians in internecine warfare; the flag prayer circle dipshits, in turn, basically punch left, putting aside what they assume are relatively minor differences with secular Republican factions to focus on what they believe (mostly rightly) are major differences with liberals and leftists.

See You at the Pole is horseshit, but it’s effective horseshit. Those who aren’t familiar with religious right cultural touchstones may be having salacious thoughts of what Lambert Strether calls ladies of negotiable affection more on the pole than at it, but it isn’t anything that reputable or upstanding. *Beavis butting in, head and all* Hehheh, uh, I’m, uh, totally upstanding right now, but you might be more comfortable kneeling to, uh, polish my pole. *Huhhuh* There’s something touchingly innocent and earnest about a bunch of (mostly) young people who believe in their own ideals and in their own power to effect their ideals coming together in a prayer circle around a flagpole, but on reflection it’s a dubious and even dangerous authoritarian bonding ritual blurring the lines between religion and civics. There is no aspect of sincere Christian praxis that requires such a pushy stunt; this shit is Constantinian church-state aggression updated for a modern Protestant-leaning right-wing sensibility and reweaponized; but this is precisely why Republicans, both of the sort who sincerely believe in the religious right agenda and of the sort who secretly ridicule the religious right as a rabble of useful idiots, encourage this muddled public worship. It’s great agitprop for all of them. It organizes people who otherwise might wander down rabbit holes to the left (labor unionism, say) under the auspices of a public religious preoccupation that directs any political impulses back to the hard right.

The Democrats can’t hold a candle to this. As I said, See You at the Pole is not organized under formal Republican auspices, but it’s a very easy thing for Republicans, who already share an exaggerated and explicit version of the tacit authoritarianism informing these prayer rallies, to endorse. If their schedules are free or they really enjoy mixing it up with the values voters, they can drop by for some prayer and readings not in their secret closet. Otherwise, they can rope in a large part of their target constituency just by saying, hey, I’d have loved to be there but couldn’t make it, but you guys are doing great work, keep it up.

Liberal Democrats who try to outargue the religious right on these cheap authoritarian stances regularly get tripped up and made to look ridiculous and impotent. I campaigned for John Kerry in rural Pennsylvania, so I would know. Bernie Sanders has the rhetorical focus and discipline to stake a claim on his own policy territory and not be lured away from it by wedge issue assholes, but as I’ve carried on about at such length already, the Democratic Party as an institution was not down with the old socialist. Hillary Clinton and everyone around her are fucking hopeless against the religious right. Long Face, an unfortunately weak communicator, made a stumbling but sincere effort to present a nuanced approach to reconciling private faith with public policy, and he got steamrolled by anti-intellectual thugs who didn’t give a shit. Hillary, who has long had a reputation on almost every part of the political spectrum except the center-left for exceptional licentiousness, looks like the Devil Incarnate when she tries to appeal to religious voters, not just a possible unwitting tool of the Dark One. This diabolical look is pretty comprehensive for her, actually: the feminazi harpy never-resting bitch face (not the most gracious look) that offends and discomfits so many cultural conservatives is at least loosely of a piece with the commodities trading monkey business (Carl Sandburg and Leroy Brown, pray for us), the barely-legal-in-Arkansas Whitewater scam (Campbell, you on the line again? Afraid we need you, too), We Came We Saw He Died (for various reasons, I don’t even try to get a hold of History Resistance Liberty Glory Revolution), and the Dr. Evil in distress act that she couldn’t suppress late in her last presidential campaign on account of her being in trouble electorally, which she inevitably delivered in an apparently empty room while dressed in the fashion of a lesbian apotheosis of Mao and Nehru.

The overall optics of the Clinton/Kaine campaign were a raging clusterfuck that the Republicans were able to beat just by running a slightly wooden but impeccably wholesome veep candidate under a loose cannon who, regardless of his judgment or his intellect, clearly had a heart. Mike Pence and Donald Trump are both effective campaigners who successfully appealed to complementary parts of a Republican base that Trump dramatically expanded by appealing to disgruntled Democrats, many of them recently berned over. As inferred Trump voter Michael Moore kept pointing out, Hillary just wasn’t getting through in the rust belt; the different things that can be tried on Torch Lake include getting baked as fuck in a MAGA hat or soberly having a KFC family bucket and a half gallon of RC Cola for dinner while finalizing one’s conclusion that the Democrats really, seriously blew it this time and that one’s fellow slovenly fat guy is the real cultural liberal and trade union leftist remaining in the race at the witching hour.

Never Trump will have a shit fit over the last part, but look at the diverse coalition that the Donald brought together just by being all over the place and picking a politically and temperamentally complementary running mate. Hillary could have picked Bernie, and he would have put her over the top, but her priority, and for reasons of corruption her party’s, was spending the general election campaign reminding him and his supporters that their proper place in the coalition was as meek, submissive, whipped little bitches. That worked out great, guys. I didn’t want that woman in the White House, so I don’t mind gloating a bit now and then. Sexist? I didn’t really want Kaine around there, either. Also, I voted for Jill Stein, bitch. It depends on what the meaning of “her” is, and sharing a candidate with a marginal collection of anti-vaxxers and healing crystals freaks is better than sharing one with a horde of insatiable power yuppies. I’m not crazy about Trump getting so easily triggered by the Nork Dork, but at least he isn’t starting shit with our supremely rational and mostly peaceable alleged enemies in the Kremlin, who conspicuously are not joining Piggy Gangnam Style in announcing plans for a nuclear missile attack on Guam.

Etc., but Wow Much Words. #WithHer regards argumentation like that as retardation on the level of someone with Down’s Syndrome talking about how good the hot dogs are at Bear River Pump-n-Play. It’s Wiener Day at the Roth’s in West Salem tomorrow; go choke on one. The refusal to acknowledge nuance on the part of the opposition is not a good look in a sworn liberal party. That doesn’t just alienate conservatives and reactionaries. Donald Trump looking like the more liberal candidate appeals to some of us. If the nominal liberals won’t confront their own illiberalism, maybe he’ll confront it for them. It might be worth a try.

In this context, the impotent embarrassments of Democratic-aligned protest movements is worth a look. Happily married women with large families aren’t natural allies for the pussy hat marchers, whom they’re more likely to regard as barren, bitter, pathological shit-stirrers, even freaks. Appealing to nebulous concepts of virtue like science and reason backfires on those who won’t honestly state and defend their own principles: extensive moral reasoning led Rick Santorum in a very different direction, and now liberals smear him by smugly appropriating his surname for a slurry of post-climactic butt goo, all while he’s married with, IIRC, five living children.

Bernie Sanders stays away from this toxic, distracting shit, but the Democratic Party would rather adopt Dan Savage as a mainstream standardbearer. But it gets worse than that. Bernie is beyond their comfort zone, but he’s closer than most of the voters they’re theoretically trying to reach. He’s a college-educated sitting United States Senator. Famously on the gotcha right and center, he owns several lake houses. The problem, the intractable problem, is that he talks basically like an organizer at a union hall. He relates to coal miners. Like Trump, he’s comfortable reaching out to workaday people, but he does so at a much more granular, thoughtful, and probably honest level, and he has a strong track record in industrial policy benefiting his constituents in Vermont that parallels Trump’s casino bankruptcies and stiffing of small family-owned contractors in Atlantic City.

Sanders has a more honest version of what Republican politicians have and Democratic politicians desperately need: an ability to get into the trenches and interact with ordinary voters on their own turf. It’s hard to say for sure what mix of sincere interest and depraved psychosexual drives motivates Republican politicians to do effective retail politics with voters at state fairs and grange halls and churches and athletic events, but they do it. It comes naturally to them. They look comfortable. Democrats look all grossed out that some pig is about to shit on their Bruno Maglis. Or some voter. Hell, Mitt Romney has a fucking elevator in La Jolla for his cars, and even he had more in common with ordinary voters than Hillary Clinton on account of his involvement in LDS stake leadership, which involves ongoing dealings with congregants at various socioeconomic levels.

Of course this idiot crew can’t connect with farmers or factory hands. We’ve got a political class on what passes for the left that can’t think of a single thing that it has in common with normal, average people in probably eighty percent of US counties and, let’s not kid ourselves, many urban neighborhoods. The client-patron relationship that the Democratic Party presumes with African-American and Latino voters isn’t nearly as sustainable or cordial as the Dems think it is, but when they try to take the same attitude to majority-white parts of flyover country, where voters forthrightly expect not to be treated so condescendingly, the locals invite them to immediately enjoy a hearty serving of Manchego Fuck Yourself. They dig themselves even deeper into the hole by pretending that 10% black counties in Appalachia are 100% white and 100% bigoted, and then return to their contemplation of how bae Nate Silver is for being such a detail-oriented wonk.

GA-06 was their wet dream. Finally they had located a single congressional district in the New South that they thought they had a chance of winning by running a milquetoast Millennial neoliberal against a hardliner Gen X values MILF. And they lost it. Oops. They lost to the Jersey Slugger in Montana, too, but that was because they shut off the party campaign funds to their High Line native candidate as a fuck-you to the Berniecrats. Ain’t no Panera in Cut Bank, either. The proper bougie purveyors of coffee and sammich nicely complemented the obsession with winning over hardliner Republican dentists in Alpharetta instead of reaching out to ranchers who gladly vote for Jon Tester every six years.

Any party that actually valued meritocracy, in the sense of having what it takes not to torpedo one’s organization by being a moron, would tell anyone encouraging more outreach to Panera Democrats in suburban Atlanta to go on public assistance. They’d take the fuckheads down to the welfare office. Any sensible political leader would figure that a belief in Panera Democrats as a viable constituency could only come from the laziest, dumbest, softest, most squeamish motherfucker on earth. The Dunkin’ Doorman hangs out in a coffeeshop, too, but he doesn’t work as a political strategist. I’m writing this from a Starbucks, and I interrupted my writing to go trainspotting out on the sidewalk, twice, but I’m not a fucking idiot who has never talked to poor people. You might not want to hear the stuff I could tell you about the bitchin’ consists that I watched roll by, but I don’t pester the Democratic Party with any of that. The people who do pester the Democratic Party include incorrigibly timid little shitbirds who think they can run the ground war for a successful national political strategy from the lobby of a chain cafe that’s decorated with peak clip art.

I pick fruit commercially, and I think they’re fucking reprehensible.

Among those left behind

The guy who sued the Insurance Schmuck’s boss was recently found dead by his own hand in a hotel room. The Insurance Schmuck said that he lived exceptionally fast and loose and likely killed himself to avoid paying secret debts that were well beyond his financial ability. By his reckoning, dude was supporting himself with a sort of check-kiting scam on his very life, and now he leaves behind huge mess.

There’s obviously a lot wrong with this entire situation, but I’m still trying to put a finger on what exactly is so pathological about it. I take my exposure to it, even secondhand, as a personal affront and very much as evidence that the Insurance Schmuck has blundered into a clusterfuck that poisons everything it touches without the sense or the courage to cut bait on these toxic lunatics. He often talks to me about how loyal he is, and he’s right about that. The specific problems that he’s encountering with his loyalty to his boss are that ISB is out of control, many of the associates and loved ones that ISB has cultivated are also out of control, quite a few other people close to one or both of them in the business are out of control, and the Insurance Schmuck doesn’t have what it takes to stand up to these wackos.

Let’s rechristen ISB’s late estranged former business partner ISBP. The P can stand for plaintiff, too. Or for prick, or putz. #TeshTips: Arabic does not have a letter corresponding to P, and we are not Muammar Qaddafi’s loyal beebul. #PowerOfPride #BowerOfBride.

I can’t believe that ISBP didn’t have some meritorious claims against ISB. It’s possible but very unlikely. The Insurance Schmuck has made some hushed comments to me to the effect that ISB at least tried to chisel ISBP or dangle some bogus promises in front of him in bad faith. ISB as a shyster in his business life rings true enough. Even if ISBP exaggerated his claims, it’s hard to see what incentive anyone would have to sue a competent, reputable senior partner in a successful business, since there would be so much to be gained by just keeping the operation running smoothly.

It’s almost as hard to imagine an attorney wanting to take on a nutty client whose case sounds like horseshit or a persecution complex unless the defendant is either a loaded celebrity with a reputation to defend or a corporation. ISBP sued ISB as an individual, from what I’ve heard, one private citizen to another, and any corporations involved were small and obscure. Besides, ISB seems vain enough to thrash around defending his honor rather than paying a disgruntled ex-partner fuck-off money, and the Insurance Schmuck told me that he did exactly that, costing both of them six-figure legal bills and, in his opinion, shortening both of their lives. When he learned of ISBP’s suicide, he felt sadly vindicated in his prediction that they’d go to early deaths.

It was darkly humorous, then, to find an obituary for ISBP in the Lancaster Newspapers mentioning that he had died “unexpectedly.” I had an inside source at the Lancaster Newspapers (I’m Woodward Bernstein, bitch) who told me and some classmates in the 1990’s that the publishers had a strict policy against printing HIV or AIDS as a cause of death in their obituaries, so I wouldn’t put it past them to be equally chickenshit about suicide. Of course, many families don’t want to air that bit of grief, either. As my aunt from Manna’s Habba, the same one whose brother is the Staten Island diaspora’s premier self-loathing Jew, “he died of kansa!”

How long, in the plural, to the point of no return? That was bad, but as Robert Dziekanski said, better an electronic cut from the American Heartland than an electric cut straight outta Depot. ISBP wasn’t Aaron Hernandez, so I don’t want to make light of his suicide, exactly (even if I’m in no danger of going bottomfeeding like Rod Dreher did over the freshly late Ariel Castro), but there is something really fucked up and eerie about seeing a newspaper obituary that treats a guy’s death as a sad mystery and hearing details from a mutual contact indicating that the paper scurried around the edges of the really seedy cultural underbelly of the same guy’s life. After all the toxic bullshit I’ve gotten from my college crowd about the socioeconomic milieu that would or should be mine, it’s disturbing to get the impression that people I nearly met at prep school (and may have met fleetingly at some point) responded to a suicide catalyzed by very similar socioeconomic pathologies to the ones I kept encountering at college by blowing sunshine up everyone’s ass.

Reporting this guy’s suicide as a suicide isn’t red meat for the rubberneckers; in its context, there really is something newsworthy about it. There is a public interest in warning people away from the kind of dangerous living that got ISBP into trouble, if that’s actually what happened, and the Insurance Schmuck seemed reasonably well-informed about his background.

This isn’t to say that I take everything the Insurance Schmuck said about ISBP and his beef with ISB at face value. He told me that ISB and his then-girlfriend, the one whose breast implants he paid for, used a lot of hard drugs, which explained why Legacy Tits looked so awful. When I saw Legacy Tits at the pool earlier this summer, I thought she looked exceptionally poised and not particularly haggard for a woman her age. In retrospect, having done the Zuckerbergeois Google-fu to get her meatspace name and the full legal names of ISB and ISBP, I realize that I may have overestimated her age, possibly by five years, but I had a raging alcoholic friend in college, when we were both freshmen, who looked like she was pushing a grizzled forty. So, all in all, Legacy Tits didn’t look too bad. Her Facebook profile makes her look like she has Borderline Personality Disorder, but having seen her at the pool, I assume that’s basically a persona. She isn’t the first person (usually women, from what I can recall) who had such a whatthefuckular discrepancy between face-to-face conversations and Facebook.

ISB, on the other hand, looks like shit, and not that much unlike Rob Ford. Thinking over this whole mess, I’ve occasionally been consumed with total confidence that he’s a cokehead. He works in business circles that are traditionally awash in coke. He looks like a cokehead and he acts like a cokehead. Alcohol could explain much of it, as it did for the Mayor, but ISB, like the yachting dipshit who claims to get by on an hour of sleep a night, is burning the wick at both ends in a way strongly suggesting that he needs powerful slugs of stimulants to avoid falling into a delirium or passing out. And if ISBF hasn’t snorted base, I’m Pablo Escobar. Knowing how much of her upkeep comes from ISB, he’s probably where she gets her coke.

The Insurance Schmuck has no fucking idea if these two use cocaine, or amphetamines, for that matter. In a tossup, I’d still call coke, but I wouldn’t put it past ISB in particular to use Adderall or Ritalin off-label. The Insurance Schmuck has no clue that his boss and the projectile nut he’s engaged to marry use hard stimulants because, for one thing, they’re too politically astute and neurotic to tell someone who doesn’t seem to be down for some uppers that they use, and more generally, he’s totally oblivious and ignorant to the cultures of any drug but alcohol and the signs of use. He’d have to see someone roll up a Benjamin right in front of him and hoover up a line to get an inkling that, hey, that guy just took some coke.

The Insurance Schmuck knows practically nothing about drugs except what he’s heard from his crappy, powerfully illiberal sober living stories. I doubt it would occur to him that cocaine helps some people function in high-power office jobs and is within others’ ability to use without immediately going off the rails. He’s got this narrative in his head that substance abuse makes abusers inherently unable to function. That’s really what it is: a narrative, a shabby deep story, a suite of prejudices for an avowedly unprejudiced man from an avowedly unprejudiced family. I have no trouble seeing how ISB could integrate cocaine into a life that doesn’t also involve his sleeping on a piece of cardboard at Market East. I doubt it does him much holistic good, but I’ve had the strong sense since before I met him that he lives an awfully unbalanced and unhealthy life, a sense that he confirmed the night I met him when he met us at the bar and carried on in a fashion that may have been the sole effect of alcohol but alternately may have been facilitated by scheduled stimulants.

I don’t recall the Insurance Schmuck telling me how he knew that that ISBP and Legacy Tits were heavy drug users, but I can’t help but imagine ISB getting worked up and angrily calling them a couple of fucking cokeheads. There’s no reason for ISB’s own cocaine use to get in the way of such a tirade; no homo, he and ISBP went through the equivalent of a divorce, and ISB always seemed like one of the last people to admit his own failures and weaknesses. If the Insurance Schmuck has mentioned his own sober living theories, ISB has all the more incentive to smear ISBP and Legacy Tits as drug users. On the other hand, I got the sense that Legacy Tits had discussed her drug use with him, too.

What rankles me about this situation is not the drug use per se, but the appearance that the Insurance Schmuck and the shysters around him are using drugs as a cudgel while peacocking about their own moral superiority as sober businessmen who kick ass for a living. I use caffeine and a very occasional mug of beer, and the Insurance Schmuck seems to be having the wool pulled over his eyes by a number of close business associates who are hopped up on some hard, hard shit. If they aren’t on cocaine or amphetamines, they sure play the part. I take deep offense at insinuations that I’m less well-adjusted than these wackos, but I know that the Insurance Schmuck is interested in using me as a conduit to my parents’ eventual estate, because he’s said as much to me, but a bit less bluntly, and I know that these assholes all idolize wealth in the classic biblical sense. I pick fruit commercially for deep poverty wages. Why should I not think that these people have cultivated themselves into a crew of shambling reprobates?

And why shouldn’t I think that they’re dangerous? The Insurance Schmuck isn’t the root of the problem. If he were working for someone reputable, he wouldn’t be angling for a cut of my future inheritance with pitches that leave me with a gathering aftertaste of crassness and insensitivity. Under a scrupulous boss, he’d be blameless. Instead, he works for a shyster with substance abuse problems in a business full of such people, and so he covers for them and descends into a willful, strategic ignorance of how they’re behaving. The sales tactics that they use are shit, and there’s no compensating for that with solid products. Shitty tactics produce shitty customer reactions. That’s all there is to it. They are inevitably going to alienate and upset prospective clients by following scripts that turn them into fucking assholes. That is in the cards for as long as they keep reshuffling the same filthy deck.

So are the aggressive addicts. They provide a safe space for highbrow derelicts, and so the highbrow derelicts show up and shit the floor. One of my best friends works for a guy who got sued for fraud and breach of contract by a cokehead who committed suicide and left his ex-girlfriend out in the cold, with nothing to show for their relationship but a set of silicone knockers. The Insurance Schmuck said that ISBP left Legacy Tits out on the street. It may well not be that bad, whether she finds a sugar daddy or moves back in with family (either one is likely), but it doesn’t sound good.

It is reasonable of me to ask why the fuck he does business with such people and what the fuck he expects me to think of it.

Interstate Avenue

When I saw the No Washington Bottles sign on the wall at the Delta Park BottleDrop today, my first reaction was lol good luck with that. My second, much darker, thought was that OBRC might actually try to enforce the regulation against interstate smuggling. There’s absolutely no way in hell to enforce anything of the sort equitably. The closest thing to equitable enforcement would be a regime that uniformly checks the origin of every customer’s bottles. That would cause excessive burdens for the poorest, most desperate customers and choke the entire system on bureaucracy, bringing it to a sputtering halt. Compelling bottlers to label their bottles specifically for sale in Oregon as a condition of selling here is presumably beyond the pale politically. Bottlers have the operational and financial capacity to cope with a state-by-state labeling regime more readily than individuals can cope with an intrusive inspection regime, but they also have lobbyists, and the rest of us don’t so much.

The sign noted that some try-hard safety club administrative regulation allows bottle redemption centers to turn away bottles that they believe to have been purchased out of state and to refuse to accept bottles from customers with Washington license plates. To illustrate this, the sign’s background was a copy of the blue-on-white lithograph of Mount Rainier from the Washington license plate under the struck-through red circle from a no-smoking sign. Frankly, out-of-state tags aren’t probative of a damned thing. They’re going on the basis of prejudicial suspicion and nothing else. They don’t know where the hell anyone’s bottles were purchased because the inefficiency of certifying provenance and chain of custody, of treating like antiquities junk that someone just fished out of a fucking trash can, would crash the system. The cost of efficiency is some petty crooks bringing in bottles from out of state. Big fucking deal. Just this year the deposit in Oregon was raised from five cents to ten because the percentage of deposits redeemed had stayed below eighty percent for several years straight, so it’s a matter of public record that the bottle fund had a strong positive cash flow until at least last year.

So we’ve got this really fucking neighborly sign outlawing Washington two miles from downtown Vancouver (why, hello, neighbor!) and telling Washingtonians to fuck off and take their bottles to an appropriate recycling center that doesn’t offer deposits, in roughly the tone one would expect of a sign cautioning sexual perverts to go to McNeil Island for their civil commitment. Cascadia federalism will totally work, guys. It won’t be anything like US federalism, or even Canadian federalism. It totally won’t involve a state that sent an advisory team from its corrections department to teach its counterparts in Delaware how to revive the lost art of judicial hanging or had a death squad mace one of its own condemned men in extremis when he resisted his own Saddamnation. Nothing located anywhere between Clarksport and Blaine possibly makes Erin Sharma look human, and no one in North Portland has a beef with anyone on the other side of the Columbia for stealing the Oregon treasury’s shiznit.

The prospect of the regulations against the importation of deposit bottles actually being enforced raises the specter of authoritarian overreach by exactly the people who belong nowhere near positions of authority. If OBRC tries to bar the door against Clark County freeloaders, it will end up hiring police academy rejects whose love of power for the sake of power has them on course for jobs as casino rent-a-cops unless something else drifts within reach. The license to interrogate and interdict certain classes of people for improvable petty fraud is exactly the commission to convince a bunch of officious asshats who naturally suffer from hypervigilance verging on PTSD and suspicion verging on clinical paranoia that they’re Inspector Lewis. We’ve got a regime here that threatens to breed monsters for no other reason than to root out a few sad sacks who smuggle thirty-dollar loads of cans in from Hazel Dell. I honestly thought Oregon had more heart than to do something that vicious, but I guess not.

This regime–again, if it’s actually enforced–will fall heaviest on the poorest and most desperate. Bill and Melinda Gates aren’t showing up with bags full of cans. The Delta Park BottleDrop was mobbed this afternoon, and I was one of only two or three people in the building, other than the staff, who didn’t look utterly indigent. Most of the other customers were dressed for shit. I’m sure that some of them were wearing castoffs from Goodwill.

Everything that could be wrong with them, other than a late-stage Marlon Brando wheeling himself up to the hot tables in a Chinese buffet with nasal oxygen in tow, was wrong. They were slovenly, slouchy, shabbily dressed, out of shape, overweight in ways that looked indescribably but unmistakably abnormal, underweight in that classic somebody better feed Kid Rock way, and in many cases vaguely distempered, hostile, and of diminished executive function. One lady in front of me was feeding bottles into the machine without looking, causing herself to lose at least one into a deep crevice beside the conveyor belts when it hit another bottle that the machine had been rejected. I was afraid that she’d curse me out and turn into an in-your-face bitch if I pointed this out to her, so I held my peace.

Heh, I initially wrote that as “held my piece.” I might as well have been doing that, probably. Going in there with only $1.50 worth of bottles at all-day rush hour wasn’t a compellingly good decision. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Nah, who am I kidding? These people are too harried to take a Sabbath. They were lined up out the door the first time I swung by; I came by a couple of hours later and joined a line that went almost back to the front door, then walked past several people who were lined up outside the door as I left after another fifteen minutes.

We weren’t there for our health. I have a cushion that will keep me going for another month of two on its own, for which I’m greatly thankful, but the extra money helps me, too. For most of the other people there, it must have been indispensable. They weren’t traveling kid grungy. They weren’t larping some crappy slumdog shtick. They were the real deal, the genuinely, generationally poor. I didn’t need to take a second look at them to tell that an extra twenty or thirty dollars would be a true godsend.

Police states tend to fall heaviest on the poor. An administrative police state enforced by non-sworn petty functionaries for the purpose of deterring petty bottle deposit fraud is no different. That has the effect of demonizing, menacing, humiliating, and degrading the poor. BottleDrop often attracts the lumpenproletariat, but the Delta Park store attracted the hell out of them. I was surprised by the sheer numbers, but not so much by the overall mix, although I was a bit taken aback, because the neighborhood ain’t so hot. There’s no telling how many cold homeless are living in the woods or on disused patches of land around industrial properties in North Portland, but the number is sizable. The revulsion of higher classes to this crowd is natural and to some extent inevitable; frankly, some of them really are the dregs; but it should not be encouraged. We all should aspire to something better, something more human.

I felt really uncomfortable with the implications of an official sign in an unpleasant built environment menacingly accusing an exceptionally destitute customer base of wholesale criminality and threatening to take extreme actions to thwart it. Examining license plates is extreme. Demanding proof of purchase in Oregon is extreme. The sign was probably posted due to the facility’s proximity to the Washington state line, not due to the poverty of its customers, but its presence in a facility used overwhelmingly by the visibly indigent was disturbing.

These are people who go through their entire lives, sometimes generation after generation, associating exclusively with other members of the underclasses. Their only contacts with anyone from the lower middle class or above are with police, teachers, social workers, jail guards, and maybe other professionals, most of whom do not regard them as anything like equals.

The rest of us treat them like dogshit. We other the hell out of them and leave them to their separate and unequal world of check-cashing joints, ghettoside 7-Elevens, and bottle redemption centers. (As bad as the last can be in Oregon, the ones in California are a whole other quantum of misery and degradation.) We pretend that this other world doesn’t exist. God knows I mostly try to avoid it, because it sucks, and because most of the companies and individuals who set up shop there richly deserve to go out of business.

The chronic degradation of the very poor is one of the reasons why Robert Pickton got away with serial murder for so long. The women he murdered weren’t just prostitutes; most of the prostitutes among them were homeless or housing-insecure streetwalkers with hard drug habits. He also targeted a number of indigenous women living on Indian reserves, which are about as bad in Canada as in the United States. He went after women who were effectively second-class citizens. That’s who I saw in BottleDrop today, too: second-class citizens living in a second-class society. No, more like third-class, to be generous.

These people won’t assimilate into middle-class society if they continue to be treated like thievish losers who deserve monitoring worthy of a prison visiting room. They need to be shown some good faith, some benefit of the doubt. The affluent wouldn’t put up for fifteen minutes with the shit that the poor face on a daily basis.

We can’t expect the disorder that we’ve encouraged in poor neighborhoods not to seep into wealthier ones, or to flood in unexpectedly, triggered by something equally unexpected. Bad shit taking root on the margins isn’t good for anyone. We encourage the maintenance and proliferation of reservoirs of ill at our own peril, not just at the peril of those who get stuck living in such environments.

In my own experience, Washington is a weak-ass canning state, but take your ass up to Battle Ground and get some bottles. Take your ass up to Puyallup and get some bottles. Take your ass all the way up to Lynden and get you some damn bottles. Take your asco over to Pasco, bitch, and get bottles. It isn’t a Wesley Willis song (sic), but it should be. Amen, in the name of Jason Lee, I duly abet ye all.

The permanent business plot

Being decisively on the same side of a contentious political debate as Tom Cotton is disorienting for me. It’s like one of my occasional mornings on the road when I wake up with no idea within three hundred miles of where I am. This must be the famous horseshoe theory. It certainly doesn’t give me the feeling that I have not been hit in the head with a horseshoe.

What Cotton said on behalf of his new immigration bill the other day was morally sound and pitch-perfect. He is absolutely right that it’s time to start doing right by Americans who work with their hands and work on their feet. He’s absolutely right that concern for the welfare of destitute foreigners is harming the welfare of working-class Americans.

Our leaders are not making a credible or sincere effort to reconcile these conflicting interests. Cotton at least recognizes that these interests conflict and takes an aboveboard position on whose interests he’s advancing. His opponents are too chickenshit and craven by a long shot to admit that they’re on the side of immigrant scab labor. That would look bad, and looking bad costs politicians reelection. Hence the rising chorus of complaints about excessive democracy from the center-left and the center-right. Democratic representation that actually represents the demos is problematic because it fails to represent the revolting elites. Let us #NeverForget how violently the Bern and the Donald have infuriated antidemocratic highbrow elements by appealing to downmarket constituents who hope for faithful representation.

Tom Cotton is probably first or second in line to infuriate them next. I haven’t checked the internet, but I have no trouble imagining denunciations of him for being a hapless hillbilly ignoramus legislating on the basis of old wives’ tales about the labor market and a spirit of herrenvolk reaction. What I heard from him in the press conference clip that NPR played was a clearheaded, workmanlike, and eminently coherent description of a serious problem that he has correctly identified and the reasonably good start that he wants to make towards solving it. His focus isn’t exactly where mine would be, but his goals overlap enough with mine and seem morally sound enough that I’m not of a mind to quibble over the mechanisms. He’s showing a hell of a lot more responsibility than the rest of Congress.

Before I get strawmanned (which will happen anyway), I should lay out exactly where I stand on a number of the points in question. I consider David Perdue’s comments about immigrants on welfare spurious and needlessly inflammatory. I do not approve of deficit concern-trolling or the opportunistic shaming of public assistance claimants, especially ones who work. That said, I can’t object to the immigration bill just because one of its sponsors is a minor public shithead.

I have no objection to the use of English proficiency as a criterion for visa approval. This seems perfectly reasonable and prudent. The United States is an English-speaking country. This is a matter of fact. Every other language spoken here is relegated to some marginal subculture; an inability to speak English drastically limits the ability of a person to function in this country. In this context, I see no reason to give a rat’s ass what languages have historically been spoken within the borders of the United States today or how objectively bizarre English is as a language. These are immaterial, distracting points, and I’m pretty sure that most of those advancing them damn well know it. It’s a language of empire, but tough shit. We’ve inherited an empire, so it’s up to us either to steward it and maybe bring it back into control as some kind of republic or be derelict and let it go totally to seed. The Mother Country gave us some ugly civic and political inheritances as part of the mix, but we’d be in worse shape under almost any legal system that we might have inherited in place of the English Common Law. The guys who ran colonial Mexico, at the time including most of the present-day Southwestern United States, were godbothering, slavedriving, tyrannical pieces of shit. Everyone living in that part of the country is lucky that the Spanish toffs were demographically and militarily overwhelmed, leaving behind a legacy of mission architecture, a bunch of misprounounceable street names, and some taco recipes.

Consequently, English is, as they say, our Lingua Franca. (It’s not just for the Franks anymore.) The possibility of there being anything controversial about this indicates a frothing overproduction of elites. Communication in English in no way necessitates utter agreement with everything the worst of the English have ever done. It is the language of anti-imperialism in the Anglophone world, too. Ooh, galaxy brain! It’s no less useful for running Commonwealth governments. Personally, I’ve always figured that if English is good enough for Jorge Castañeda, it’s good enough for me.

The point here isn’t to be bigoted or narrowminded. Having large, enduring enclaves of foreigners who cannot readily communicate with the native population presents a number of serious problems, for both the enclaves and for the native society surrounding them. This isn’t some angels-on-a-pinhead academic exercise. The wholesale presence of Mexican peasants in meatpacking towns has enabled the ruination working conditions, including safety, in American slaughterhouses. People have gotten killed in preventable industrial accidents on account of our feckless immigration policy.

The clubbable aren’t supposed to think about these things. That kind of work is for someone else, probably someone less American and definitely someone less educated. Meatpacking jobs were relatively safe, well-paid, and highly sought-after, sometimes to the point of years-long waiting lists for new hires, in the midcentury. They’re always been grueling, but today they’re needlessly grueling, terribly paid, supervised by cruel floor managers, and exceedingly dangerous. None of this just happened. Management spared no aggression in breaking the unions and replacing dedicated American lifers with disposable Mexicans, who have been replaced in turn in some meatpacking plants by Somali refugees.

There was never anything humanitarian about any of this. All this concern for the welfare of destitute foreigners is a disgusting conceit. It’s misplaced and wrong to blame the Mexican and Somali scabs for this arrangement; they’re just trying to get by after fleeing life-threateningly dysfunctional and violent homelands. All-American management teams, or at least very heavily American ones, saw an opportunity to exploit them in their desperation, and they took it. Throwing their fellow citizens, their fellow Americans, under the bus was just one of the costs of doing business.

Their fellow Americans have not forgotten a bit of it. The yuppie swarm moved past it, if they ever saw the faintest problem with it in the first place, but not the poors left behind to desperately try to hang on to a decent existence in wrecked factory towns. They remember. Few of them forgive. How can they forgive bad acts that are still being done to them in the most calculating, predatory, premeditated spirit? They aren’t fancy, but they aren’t a bunch of drooling retards, either. Society would grind to a screeching halt without the skills that they’ve spent their careers honing; it would carry on just fine without the fucking MBA’s.

I picked fruit again today. I’m unaware of any MBA’s who did that. Tom Cotton recognizes that there’s some hard work that needs to be done. From what little I’ve heard of his comments, he actually holds most of his fire. The extent to which educated elites, many of them proudly liberal, look down on and demean working men and women is unbelievable. Cotton’s pushback against this bigotry has been quite restrained. He’s standing up very politely on behalf of some of the most shit-upon constituencies in the United States at a time when there really isn’t anything wrong with standing up rudely on their behalf. The educated elites are all but literally biting the hands that feed them. How the hell do they expect that to end in their favor?

If you think I will or must vote Democratic because I’m educated or fancy, you’ve got your head up your ass. No one is hooking me up with the good stuff. This is what Tip O’Neill meant by all politics being local. My own local is full of yuppies who talk a great game about networking but never network me into jack shit. To be crude about it, my interests don’t intersect with theirs, and I’m not sure they ever did. Donald Trump humiliating and sandbagging their crowd is a good thing. They could do to be brought down a rung or two in a society whose working men and women have been dropkicked off the ladder straight into a pile of pigshit.

If I’m going to vote Democratic, i need a reason to vote Democratic. I’ve repeatedly voted for Dale Mensing for Congress solely because he’s listed on the ballot as a cashier. He could be nuttier than an Almond Joy on any number of issues, but that wouldn’t stop him from bringing Congress some much-needed insights about how menial workers are treated from day to day in this country. Loretta Sanchez gave me reasons to vote Democratic twice last year, but if Tom Cotton carpetbagged his way into a general election against Kamala Harris, he’d have to really screw the pooch for me not to vote for him. I wouldn’t assume that he doesn’t generally suck, but I know that Harris generally sucks, and I’d be thrilled to have someone coherently advocating and legislating on behalf of workaday Americans in the Congressional delegation from my first home state in its time of extreme yuppie infestation.

These are not sources of shame or embarrassment for me. I’m no MAGA shitlord, but I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say that much of what Donald Trump has been saying gives me rare hope and welcome schadenfreude. I didn’t expect him, of all people, to be the one to publicly take on the yuppies after his real estate and television careers, but I’ll take it, and joyfully so. For that matter, Anthony Scaramucci, an obvious prick, doesn’t disturb me the way Washington’s traditional lanyard dork army does. He looks and sounds sort of normal, other than his being a prick. The number of visibly abnormal people rushing around Washington is scary.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that hasn’t somehow disturbed Tom Cotton, too, and inspired him to push back against the yuppie swarm. The situation on the ground in Washington is hard to imagine from flyover country. It’s deeply pathological, verging on the Antebellum South in its hypocrisy and moral cowardice. Hiring exclusively Latin American staffs of presumably irregular legality is obviously a cheap and shady practice. Around Washington, it’s treated like a fucking Rotary cultural exchange, and no one has the courage to say otherwise. Of course it was never sincerely meant to be any sort of people-to-people shit. Has Marion Barry been handing out free crack rock in Northwest, or are they just a bunch of fuckheads? Hint: rhymes with “Buckhead.”

Bitches set themselves up, in both senses. These are not ones to live humbly or austerely or in truth. They’d much rather live grandiosely, lavishly, and in falsehood. Like #TIMMEH, they’re #LIVINALIE! More than a few of them look like they’ll imminently revert to his level of executive function, too. That has to be a great town to find a diaper fetishist. *Strom Thurmond, still going strong all night long* Now, that is no fetish, son; it is an expediency. Do I look like a man who remains clothed around a colored woman? *Strom Watch Expired*

I never expected Tom Cotton to be the one to notice that something was off about the joint and to try to fix it, but that seems to be where we’ve landed. Nah, more like washed up. But if he has the only fresh set of eyes capable of noticing that our federal government really is operating out of a fetid swamp, that’s better than St. Jean de Breboeuf driving an oil train through Lac Megantic. *Voice crying out in the frontier, probably in French* Brother, can you spare a pair? I can’t find mine.

That was unforeseeably bad. The bad stuff in Washington is all too foreseeably bad, and it isn’t just obscure blogging in bad taste. I’m in it for the art, and I guess the page views; they’re in it for the money and the power and the majesty. It’s past time that someone stepped up and tried to correct it. It’s happening in the midst of what may still be a real political realignment, so it won’t necessarily make sense. That’s okay. John Fremont was a Republican. William Jennings Bryan was a Democrat who got into religious meddling by way of positive law late in his career. We don’t need saints. As we saw in the previous paragraph, we really don’t need saints. We need political leaders who are halfway honest. Cotton and Trump are giving me that 53% feeling again, and oh hell yes, I do like it.

Wet bulb temperature

The Pacific Northwest has been having some exceptionally awful weather for the past week. Northwestern Oregon has had record and near-record highs, and smoke is drifting in from every which way. We’ve dealt ourselves some of that which we’ve smelt, but another portion of it is coming from British Columbia, so I’d be derelict not to immediately blame it on Jamie Davis. His neighbors, too; fuckin’ eh, friends. You’re all too busy smoking that damn rock like country slumdog Rob Ford to keep the whole fucking forest from going up in a big wall of fire.

Let’s rundel in the jungle; well, that ‘s all right by, by God, that is not in the least bit all right at all, but as the traditional fishing ditty holds, take Tommy Thompson, take Scott Walker or David Clarke and some water or either Ron Johnson; take extra rations and take Sam Dotson, but plea ea ea ease, don’t forget the pole. You may have found that, dare I say, shockingly tasteless, but page view stats tell me that most of you are still here for even worse, and besides, if you’ve been paying attention, you know by now to expect nothing less of Gerry and the Heartstoppers.

Lord have Mersey upon us all. That was a mess. So is the air we literally breathe. There’s no need to bring Jian Ghomeshi down here to make us choke. In a rather expensive and cruel prank at our expense, whoever we specifically are as Americans, OPB sent reporters to Bingen and the Horse Heaven Hills to deliver soundbyte reports about how there wasn’t much to see and we might not want to breathe. Something’s already gone wrong, Kroeger. An additional something’s gotta go wrong ’cause they’ll be pestering us for money to fund that shit before long and threatening to withhold further programming, on the assumption that that would be unfortunate. Maybe if we ignore them (ooh, I’m getting a kloo, too!) they’ll eventually realize that they’re just a couple of impotent losers grandiosely addressing a rally of exclusively imaginary friends. Nah, probably not. That’s way too much humility and introspection to expect of anyone who tries to sweeten extortion threats with offers of Downton Abbey box sets.

Our federal tax dollars remain hard at work at these fine enterprises. I really should fill out and turn in the EITC paperwork that the IRS mailed me; there’s no way I’ll steward that five hundred and whatever so embarrassingly.

What this pulverized MRE pea soup has meant for the fruitboys and girls has been shorter workdays. We’ve been sent home (what is “home”?) at 11:30 every day since Tuesday. Daughter-in-Law initially told us to take Thursday off to rehydrate and “plan something fun,” but then, at Mother-in-Law’s whispering insistence (she actually whispered in front of us), she made it an optional workday. Lol they’re all optional, but sure. Oregon statute or no statute against first-degree involuntary servitude, nobody’s about to get dragged into any Kunta Kinte in chains shit around here. The second-degree involuntary servitude statute doesn’t quite get to the roots of America’s original sin, but even if MiL thinks light violations are a good idea (I have no doubt that Joe Dirtbag does), all that any tirades in furtherance of labor under duress will accomplish is less labor of any sort at a farm that is already losing good employees to KFC, Les Schwab, probably video games, whatever useless shit I keep doing in the Adirondacks, and, from what I can piece together, the Navy.

If I really needed the money and the benefits, I, too, might think it a good idea to enlist in the Navy (in the Navy!). I don’t, so here I am. KFC sounds pretty dreadful, too, although less compulsorily so. I actually think about applying to Les Schwab from time to time, since it’s reputable as fuck (I’m still getting free rotations on tires that I preemptively told the technician I didn’t believe had been bought or mounted by Les) and the store floor plans are open enough to tell that nothing obviously abusive is going on in the back of the house, but I’ll definitely be waiting until after the eclipse, which even my dad said, in so many words, will be a clusterfuck.

In the meantime, I’m getting shit done. We all have to eat, and I pick food. I actually pick more fruit than I’m supposed to pick because I sneak around to the good thick stuff when our bosses aren’t nearby to bother us about the barely marketable weak-ass shit they also want us to pick clean. It’s an ongoing learning process to grasp just how little Americans believe in the labor theory of value. For all the talk about the value of hard work, it’s curious how little some of us, nay, many of us, get paid for actually showing up and doing it. This, again, is the job where I got the 25-cent tip, the presentation of dem shine George coin. It seems that most people who are bleeding-heart or generous or whatever enough to contribute to panhandlers at rest areas cough up a paper George or three. There is, of course, a corresponding loss of dignity in sitting on ass by the shitters with a short story and equally tall tale scribbled onto a piece of cardboard.

Usually. This week, with its complete lack of MiL lectures and berry tastings and limited managerial annoyances for not picking the shitty fruit, has been usual enough, and I really don’t feel like getting into the weeds with any of the owners about how we’d all do better if we did some basic triage, got the good fruit first, and went back for the marginal leftovers if we had extra time. Not my circus, not my monkeys. I really appreciate working at a place where I can show up after I’m fully awake and leave early if I get really bushed. Sure, they had better be that flexible at the piece rates that they offer, but the alternatives in the industry include some real moral dregs, which these people definitively are not.

Yesterday was the first day I left seriously early. Sometimes I stay late, because once I’m on site and making progress I usually get really motivated, but yesterday the smoke and the water vapor from recent irrigation gave the fields that old El Centro climate, and I was struggling. I couldn’t put a finger on what was so awful about it, except that the winds were mostly calm, but MiL told me as I was leaving that DiLH had told her that the fields were really humid on account of the irrigation. Again, even though there are better ways to irrigate than their system, I’m not here to judge, because everything to do with irrigation is a gigantic pain in the ass. The game sucks, so it’s hard to blame the players. The weird thing about MiL’s comment was that the ground in the block where I’d been working had been fairly dry (I’ve gotten my socks soaked in other recently irrigated blocks), but I’d been sweating profusely. I should have recognized that it was super humid. I did recognize that it felt like a Pennsylvania summer, but I don’t think I got my brain fully turned on until after I left for the day.

My output was pretty good for only three hours’ work, but that was because I’d left some crappy fruit unpicked and gone poaching farther up the row. Far be it from me to hate myself as a player, either. You gotta do what you gotta do in this business. Statistically, what you gotta do is quit and go see what’s for sale at GameStop.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so harsh on the interior BC crackheads above. They’d be all right for this line of work. The big midcentury fruit growers around McMinnville, muh fuckin Mack, used to send buses down Burnside Avenue in the middle of the night to pick up vagrant drunks and take them out into the ranches by daybreak, in time for a full day’s harvest. Love too employ severely hungover and fatigued individuals with behavioral and substance abuse problems in jobs requiring the maneuvering and climbing of ladders.

Crack is an upper, a drug of gittin’ er done, a drug, possibly, even of optimism. I take coffee breaks in the field; it might be no less judicious for a rock friend to take a crack break. Toking lightly on the rock might be the equivalent of my taking a few sips at a time these days instead of drinking the whole damn grande in half an hour, like I did back when I was an idiot about that shit.

I’m not trying to abet crack use. I do not reify an interior BC culture of buying home baking supplies from the Boston Irish mob and/or the RCMP and baking a buddy some crack. This culture is already in place. What I’m saying is that we might as well put those who are already a part of it to good use as fruitfolk if they don’t look like they’ll inevitably destroy the plants they’ve been assigned to strip. We wouldn’t want to hire Psychotarp or Mixups in my Mind to pick fruit while high on crack. We wouldn’t want to hire them to do anything at all while sober. Psychotarp once dug a new hole for the outhouse without botching the job. I think Joe Dirtbag gave him permission to dig the new hole just to stop the requests for permission to dig a shitter pit. There were hygienic considerations in favor of a new hole, and in favor of not having everyone shit into the same hole in the ground, but JD obviously didn’t have any of these in mind.

For those whose problem is narrowly limited to doing better on crack than not on crack, to the exclusion of over-the-top, out-of-control psychosis, and certainly for those whose problem is limited to enjoying some crack, we really shouldn’t be so concerned about sniffing out those whom the rock is cooking. The workforce won’t magically become functional and healthy on account of their absence from it; we’re trying that already. The Mack Attack Squad didn’t need drugs to be a nightmare for its colleagues.

Crack, intersectional with a desire to make enough money to buy some more crack, might be what it takes to motivate some crackers (heh) to come out and do the jobs that the Mexicans don’t want. I’m pretty sure that what we’ve been asked to do gleaning crap fruit without no bonus and no minimum wage is something the Mexicans don’t want. If there’s a labor shortage that the sober won’t fill (video games) or can’t fill (area lodging prices relative to cash on hand), skid row might have some surplus labor available that either has a drinking schedule consistent with day-shift labor or cherishes its uppers. These marginally attached are already in the labor market; it’s just that they’re on System D. They’re already gutting rental properties for slumlords for pennies on the dollar. Bringing them onto the payrolls somehow would be worthwhile, but our policymakers aren’t thinking that coherently. These fuckers are already chargeable, so we might as well get some recharge from them when we can, even if they’d rather be paid in kind–or in da kine, da kine being, if you can believe it, crack.

No, I don’t want anyone dying from overdoses in the fields. I also don’t want some hungover dipshit falling off a ladder.

Being all about that base works, too. Sarah Palin has what it takes to take a powdered pick-me-up and pick some damn fruit. Anthony Scaramucci may. Donald Trump is too lazy and hey wanna ride bikes to do the job. So was the ADHD spazz kid from two years ago. That’s what we get for hiring a sober Christian workforce. 

But don’t go around thinking that any powder will do. Powdermilk Biscuits never got anyone’s ass out of bed.

A very convenient target with a very convenient sequel

Al Gore will be on Terry Gross today. We might say that that sounds gross, and we’d be right, however repetitively we took our entendre. Those two certainly know how to repeat themselves, so Wow Much lectures Such tendentious Many neurotic Omg brenda jorett Very annoy will be one reason for me to skip this afternoon’s radio mass. The climate change-intersectional heat wave hitting the Northwest and the resulting 11:30 quitting time at the berry farm will also help me skip our daily dork assembly with Mr. Werman. Bill Buckley’s comment about preferring to be governed by the first 250 or whatever names in the Boston phone directory than by the top 250 Harvard faculty members is, at least in this case, bolstered by the traditional place of W in the English alphabet. Shit, we already tried that at the national level, and look how it turned out. The fuck, Buckley? Your section of the White Pages keeps letting us down, white boy.

“Zest for life” is a fucking obnoxious phrase, and I really ought to mention how much Buckley’s fellow highbrow Masshole Teddy Kennedy always loved to ride the Ducks, just to get the taste* out of our mouths (Go Sea Lions!) (*since when did anyone hanging around here have any?), but our old boy Billy, he had that zest. He’d have gotten Cheryl Crow trashed on Old Fashioneds by 11:30 and relished every bloody minute of it. The posh bugger was not conflicted or pained or guilty or tortured about his proper place in the world. Unusually among wealthy Americans, he was antifragile on account of his wealth and privilege. His fanciness, precisely because he relished it so heartily, was received at lower stations as a sort of reputable plainness, a living practice of modest, down-to-earth, unpretentious values more sincere and true than anyone would ever expect of a silver spoon.

As the lady from the Cleveland ghetto told her doctor when she was asked if she got depressed, “No, I gets de Plain Dealer.” With Billy B., we all gots de plain dealer. Those of us who felt uncomfortable or distrustful about the influence of the privileged didn’t have to convince anyone else that our lord William was anything but caricaturishly privileged. What we saw was what we got. What we saw was fucking surreal. And yet, because it was so unabashed and aboveboard, it wasn’t the least bit eerie.

William F. Buckley has not been available for interviews lately, but Al Gore has. The problem here isn’t a degradation of public thought; there were hideously stupid and vulgar public figures outcompeting Buckley for attention throughout his career, and there are still intelligent, eloquent people taking part in the public discourse in spite of the much greater attention and praise lavished on pathetic shitheads. That’s part of what I’m doing here, trying to elevate the discourse and bear witness to things that ought to be discussed. Another part of it is the serial canucksploitation of fine downeaster (upeaster?) Melissa Ann Shepard and others of her home and native land. #TeshTips: A romantic Atlantic boat ride with her isn’t a good idea, either. Coffee is to the broad middle class what liquor is to the upper and lower ones, but I’m sure not to get mine from her. *Point of clarification from Monty Robinson* Vodka and the simultaneous operation of motor vehicles in the vicinity of maritime bays are important parts of my culture, too. Are you calling the RCMP fancy now?

All of that is less disturbing than Al Gore. He’s the last place I’d look for some Fresh Air. I don’t have to listen to what he has to say to Terry Gross because I’ve heard it all before. It’s as predictable as the sunrise. Gore is a priest of the postmodern age, in the sense of a homilist so insufferable that even the bishop is out at parish hall Q&A sessions admitting that, yeah, we probably ought to do something to improve the preaching around here. As the line cook who eventually bought and took over Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew’s restaurant told us, “You can go to church on the internet now.” On the radio, too. I’m already missing Marco Werman as I write this, so I am not wasting my afternoon.

The sermonizing really is excessive. I underplayed my hand above, come to think of it. There are priests who are not only clunky homilists but also sexually repressed in a projectile way. For Al Gore, the great vice isn’t lust but a specific form of gluttony, one that ravenously devours fossil fuels. And yet, look at how that motherfucker lives, flying around the world on private jets to warn about the dangers of fossil fuel use when he isn’t luxuriating in a remote Tennessee mansion that would make the Branch Davidians think, damn, that’s a fine-ass compound. He lives in a state of chronic guilt, but instead of voluntarily living more ascetically (which, for him, could still be unfathomably luxurious for most people), he lashes out at everyone else to adopt a punishing austerity from which he is conveniently (hey, that word!) exempted by virtue of his own virtue as an advocate. That was a kind of crappy way to put it, but as I think over what I’m too lazy and literarily constipated to have the energy to edit, I think it was apt. There is a shitty recursiveness to Gore’s shtick. He’s virtuous because he talks about how virtuous he is for talking about the virtues that he never, ever practices in his own life.

Gore took a lot of flak, some of it disingenuous and antisocially snarky, for being a clunk speaker back when he was the vice president and a presidential candidate, e.g., SNL’s “lock box” ridicule. In that case, he had a really clumsy, uninspiring, annoying way of promoting the manifestly sound policy of securing FICA deductions exclusively for their intended uses (most famously Social Security, but also Medicare and other social insurance programs) and not dump them down the shitter whenever they felt like wasting some more public funds on pork barrel. Over time, I’ve come to think that he got an unfair shake in the media for the lock box, which was worlds more prudent and aboveboard than anything George W. Bush was scheming to do with Social Security.

The mainstream media encourage a degrading vanity on the part of public figures, and it ought to be resisted. To return to actual priests for a moment, one of the most hapless homilists I’ve ever heard was also one of the most perceptive and helpful confessors, and it would be a damned shame for someone like him to be sidelined within any organization just because his public speaking skills are mediocre. Al Gore has had a similar problem for his entire career, even when he hasn’t been doing anything phony, and it’s wrong for bullshitters to snark at him so.

His climate change advocacy is something else entirely. It’s one of the phoniest things ever. Caulfield, you following any of this? Gore would surely intone to our boy Holden about how he should consider walking or taking public transit because cabs contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Americans in particular chafe at this sort of hectoring. It might possibly fly in Europe or Japan; stateside, it inspires every possible conspiracy theory about liberal elites, one-world government, population control, and a bewildering variety of other shit, a surprising amount of it somehow true. Here’s some rich prick who lives in a mansion, flies all over hell on the lecture circuit, and has four children of his own, for those who are aware of the Darwinian angle, and he’s bothering everyone else about how we’re all gonna roast and also drown to death if we don’t tighten our belts and stop driving and flying everywhere.

It’s blatantly hypocritical. To many, it looks like a scam buttressed by a hoax. All the cool celebs in Hollywood are also up on their high horses about greenhouse gases and global climate change, and they all have Gulfstreams. There has to be some kind of ulterior motive to it. Right?

It’s hard to make sense of some of this shit. I still can’t figure out the psychology behind it, except to have no doubt that it’s profoundly disordered. Leonardo DiCaprio and a droning ex-veep flying around like the Criminal Minds team to lecture other people about how wasteful they are is unbelievably fucked up. What kind of twisted psychological profile does it require to keep this shit up month after month without breaking from all the cognitive dissonance and guilt? What profile does it take to be even publicly comfortable with the idea that one deserves endless absolution for one’s own profligacy while everyone else deserves another ominous lecture for being not a tenth as wasteful?

The notion that this is all a grand scam, say, to dispossess and marginalize the middle class and make more room for the ultrawealthy, isn’t all that farfetched. There probably are some outright psychopaths hanging around in the business. There are definitely legion amoral opportunists. Hollywood is involved, so there are definitely narcissists.

In Gore’s particular case, I think there’s an Occam’s Razor explanation, less grandiosely malevolent but hardly any less disordered, for the jet-setting in service to Gaia. I think he mostly just kind of fell into it, that he had a policy interest in climate change that mutated into its current grotesque form as all the starfuckers in public relations kept showing up to suck his cock and give him, already a scion of wealth who was unusually successful in his own right, more and more money and flattery for saying the right things about climate change and the need for personal and communal responsibility.

Gore used to be in politics, but he’s a full celebrity now. The levelheaded, competent, no-bullshit experts and career analysts who used to surround him when he wasn’t helping Bill Clinton turn the White House into the synthesis of a university development office and Dennis Hof’s Bunny Ranch, are gone. In their place, he has a metastatic entourage of show business bullshitters. The finest minds and most public-spirited souls never go into Hollywood public relations. Their prevalence in politics and policy is wildly exaggerated by outlets like NPR, but there are some reputable people in Washington. Hollywood has no higher purpose that it fails to pursue because it gets corrupted along the way. Its fundamental purpose is absolute, unadulterated shit.

I don’t mean the motion picture or record businesses specifically (I swear, I’m only 35, but I also got only, like, five and a half hours’ sleep in my Focus last night, so make what you will of my language); some of that is more or less reputable. I mean all the celebrity-fluffing horseshit that piles up around the studios and clings to them like so many barnacles of unspeakable filth. When Gore got started on climate change, as a high elected official, he was proceeding with a layman’s understanding of the science but was surrounded by professional scientists and extremely well-informed policy advisers. He’s still operating with an educated layman’s understanding, but now he’s surrounded by pig-ignorant shitheads from the entertainment business who would psych themselves up to say and believe absolutely anything if they thought it would let them make a good living.

There is no exaggerating how fucking vapid and amoral these people are. Al Gore is working with and around people who will say anything for a buck and have all the IQ of a celebrity gossip rag in the checkout lane at Walmart. As a guilt-racked silver spoon done very well by his own right who previously spent eight years under the tutelage and authority of Bill Clinton, he was more prone than most to go native in Hollywood.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what the hell the real purpose of this propaganda is. It may just be a gambit to fleece the Whole Foods crowd; if they’ll fall for Seventh Generation, it’s worth a try. Al Gore is the worst person climate change activists could take on and promote as a circuit lecturer if they actually want to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases. He is unbelievably self-discrediting and discrediting of everything he promotes that involves any sort of asceticism (say, not driving everywhere). My guess, under Occam’s Razor again, is that this is probably more a moneymaking scam than a dominance play by cunning superelites, although the self-righteousness clearly fits in well for the entertainment business’s hardcore narcissists. Gore probably isn’t as narcissistic as he looks.

The whole thing looks like a monkey trap, with these idiots furiously holding onto the rich fruit in the jar with a fist that they can’t fit back out through the neck. The ethical flaw, and hence the glaring credibility flaw, in their model is that everyone with the star power to back up a worthy cause like climate change activism by mere celebrity fiat is also wealthy enough to live like a god. The idea of having showboating narcissists who have bought themselves exemptions from all the normal rules lecture the little people about virtue is fucking ridiculous, but the crowd that thinks these brilliant campaigns up doesn’t think through them that deeply. Why on earth would Leonardo DiCaprio or George Clooney (layer of smug!) voluntarily forego opportunities to jet off to Crete to fuck around on a luxury yacht? This would require guys who are surrounded by entire staffs of sycophants and totally loaded to go against peer pressure and the pressure of every dipshit trying to live vicariously through them. Ain’t gonna happen.

Meanwhile, an aggressively advertised culture of what Jim Kunstler calls happy motoring has taken hold in most of the United States and large parts of many other countries. The US takes it to particular extremes with motorhomes nearly the size of Greyhound buses towing SUV’s the length of a standard European camping trailer. Who is Al Gore to tell a workaday retiree to forego these little creature comforts? We can ignore, as the retirees would like us to do, the possibility that they’re financial millionaires with multiple real estate holdings and $60k in combined CalPERS income. Al Gore travels; who is he to tell other people not to travel?

Who am I, for that matter, to call anyone out for driving around the country in Rascal Flatts’ tour bus with a State Department limousine in tow? I’m just a fruitboy loser who regularly sleeps in his Focus. That would theoretically give me some relative credibility, but being a poor would not. Any number of people who regularly commute by bus or light rail set a good example of austerity falling short of hardship, but they’re poors, too, and PR types don’t care for the poors.

The intractable problem that campaigns like Al Gore’s face is the huge culture of Ephesians 3:20 cargo cult fuckwits who don’t want a silver spoon elite liberal killing their vibe. The Kamping Krowd successfully codes itself as lower middle-class, further improving its own image relative to Gore’s. Upon examination, it looks much, much more affluent than it lets on (how else does it afford its rigs?), but reputation management isn’t done on second thought. It’s much more politically feasible to tell this constituency that the oil is still there and always will be there because, hey, we need it there pending the Rapture and God provides for those who believe, or that the liberal elites are running an evil conspiracy to deprive workaday Americans of the good life that they would never deny themselves, than to level with spendthrift boomers about energy return on energy invested and by the way we’re basically running our car in the garage with the overhead door closed.

Al Gore is mostly right on the technical points, but the optics of his austerity for thee but not for me IFL Science sermons sucks ass, and hence his entire message sucks ass. We don’t need that shit. Having him around makes Republican climate change and peak oil denialists who sound batshit crazy but are really just disingenuous and squirrelly an inevitability. He’s the shittiest messenger possible for his message, and Terry Gross shouldn’t be stooping so low as to dignify his stunt.

Hey, I still have nearly half an hour to listen to Fresh Air on the local affiliates, but I do wonder what Marco Werman had to say this afternoon. No, I don’t. I’m sure it was retarded.