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.

Hoosier favorite Hoosier faggot?

Andrew Yang debased himself into deep homophobic cringe in that excruciating comedy (sic) sketch about Mike Pence with Julia Louis-Dreyfus because Louis-Dreyfus is an A-List celebrity worth $400m. That’s what we call causation. Wealth alienates those holding it from the real world. This is worrisomely hard to explain to the normies, but it’s some basic shit. What on earth about Louis-Dreyfus or anyone else at her station sounds normal, let alone ordinary? She’s unfathomably rich and surrounded by servants 24/7. Hollywood is full of supremely arrogant divas who take the servants to include Gavin De Becker and Benjamin Brafman. On-call retainers swoop in at a moment’s notice to clean up any mess. Not all maids are Mexicans.

With rare exceptions, celebrities are abnormal, and the prominent among them all the more powerfully so. Michael Jackson’s entrancingly tragic career shows what can happen when the extreme wealth and power of celebrity suffuse a person with unhealed childhood trauma. Other celebrities are object lessons in the ill effects of giving the same wealth and power to the belligerently arrogant (Mel Gibson), the all-around cruel (Ellen DeGeneres), the hypomanic (Charlie Sheen; Tom Cruise), addicts (Charlie Sheen; Lindsay Lohan), those with intractable sexual resentments (Harvey Weinstein), the more generally sexually disordered (Woody Allen), the violently sexually reactive (Phil Spector), other styles of perverts (too many to count), or narcissists (ditto). Many such cases!

We’re all aware of celebrity perversion; the gossip rags see to it. It’s obvious, then, why celebrities ought to be used sparingly in politics: their deployment as proxies is high-stakes, and they’re very often too extremely idiotic to offer a credible upside to campaigns. They work best when the voting public is every bit as idiotic, a situation many would call standard operating procedure. An assumption of popular idiocy doesn’t work as well as it did a generation or two ago, on account of the internet. It’s impossible to direct widespread idiocy from the top down anymore.

The legacy media understandably resent this. Cronkite, they intone, told it the way it was. It’s fascinating that the major networks were the province of eminent gentlemen of the news, of Murrow and Sevareid and Rather, and never of a dumbed-down sleazeball like Pat Sajak. Does Connie Chung bring back greasily unsettling memories? Goodness, I, for one, always expected better of Maury Povich’s wife.

A big bunch of shady characters are chronically resentful of the breakup of the manufactured consent-industrial complex. They never cared for that sweet antitrust action of the free (lol) market. Sensing their looming semirelevance, the political gatekeepers coarsened their sexual shtick, most bracingly with the shitty saxophonist Bill Clinton, a man whom neither boxers nor briefs could keep continent of slick willie. They’d been more demure about His Vigor Broad-Bangin’ Jack; Christ, Bobby, this isn’t the comic books section in the Bowery heyah. By the surprisingly gay nineties, they saved their discretion for flyover country he-frumps like Dennis Hastert and clumsily weird squares like Larry Craig, unconcerned that John Spritzgerald Kennedy at his soapiest dindu nun wah Denny Dundiddly dun.

Public sexual coarseness in American politics, even presidential politics, dates back at least as far as partisanship in Congress. Washington didn’t care for any of that, but Jefferson and Adams did. There have, however, been periods when this sort of seediness was towards the margins of American political culture. For example, it’s historically been rare for partisan conventions to explicitly sexualize candidates on the main stage.

This manifestation of self-respect in politics is missing lately, along with a number of others. It’s painful. Class analysis, the determination of who gets to take whose shit, isn’t fundamentally any more refined, but it tends to crowd out obnoxious idpol bullshit, and idpol wedges are routinely used to distract voters from economic platforms they may find distasteful or unacceptable, i.e., from class analysis.

Here’s the question. Do you want to allocate our collective resources through a political process focusing on the allocation of available resources, or do you prefer to do it through a pissing match about who’s gay? Our elites continue to reaffirm their choice. It is to judge booty. Our preferences may differ, but if that’s the case, they sure as hell didn’t ask us.

*****

Pay attention to what the party kingmakers do to Democratic candidates whose normal inclination is to stay above that seedy shit. Bernie Sanders, who has too strong a sense of dignity to take sexually coarse bait, just emerged from his second primary ratfucking in two successive primaries. Andrew Yang, who is goofier, needier, and more suggestible, debased himself in that cringe-ass standup routine about Mike Pence being gay because Julia Louis-Dreyfus and company thot it was a good idea.

This is where we find ourselves. A slick faculty brat gentrification thug from South Bend is the good kind of Indiana Gay; a slick hard-right talk radio grifter from Columbus is the bad kind. Mike Ponce, Mike Nonce, What Eva: We run with the cool kind of homosexual, a man from South Bend, first name Peter, last name Booty Judge, husband’s name Chasten.

The Democratic Party is fulfilling its civic pledge to give proof through the night that the fag is still there. Surely a state the size of Indiana has nonpsychopathic gay guys, too, but who cares? Mayor Pete is so inspiring! He’s so unifying!

Inspiring and unifying of what, though? Again, the omissions paint a rich picture. Like Obama in his own prime time and Bush the Younger in Trump’s, he unifies the affluent with the good feelings about their politics that they wish to enjoy along with their money. Trump yells a lot, you see. He makes people feel bad by yelling. He shouldn’t do this in our politics. He shouldn’t do this TO our politics. His predecessors weren’t screaming meanies. They were nice.

It helps to forget the terrible things the center-left constantly had to say about W during his presidency, many of them appropriate to his conduct and some of them understated. It REALLY helps to forget about the Patriot Act, Gitmo, the second Gulf War, and the rest of that big basket of fun. Obama has never come close to the very partial reckoning W faced, and it’s a matter of national consensus that the nineties, back before the Bush family organization did its naughty little thing, mostly in New York, were a time of national innocence.

What we actually mean is immaturity. One of the lines of evidence used to push this stupid narrative is the popularity of the Seinfeld show, our girl Julia’s old hangout. I’ll be sure to ask Ricky Ray Rector for recommendations on later episides next time I see him.

It would help if the arguments people who get paid to comment on politics made were grounded in nonfictional politics, not fictional stories about some friends hanging out in the living room. The nostalgia is for make-believe versions of the nineties, as we’re shown all too well by the continuing obsession with that bitch-ass Bartlet. That cracker is made up, and he was made up to sanitize a Clinton administration that had already been scrubbed good and hard for polite enjoyment. It’s a second-order delusion.

Rector’s execution fits all too neatly into the black lives matter narrative. So do so many of our executions. So does capital punishment as an American institution. On the other hand, we don’t want to say bad things about a charming, beloved president emeritus just for having one poor bastard killed in cold blood purely for political advantage. The mob can have a little Barabbas, as a treat.

Forget Lewinsky and all the adulterers and closet cases she scandalized on Pennsylvania Avenue. The definitive vignette of Clinton’s character as a president was his campaign trip back to Arkansas to execute the dessert afterwards guy. I knew he was a psycho from the start, and I was only ten.

This is the point at which we start discovering just how many Americans–not just people anywhere in the distant abstract, but our own–are expendable as pawns in the great game of moderate politics. The Big Dog had to perform a human sacrifice for the Electoral College, you see. He had to show swing voters that he was tough on crime to win election, and with it the opportunity to govern liberally.

That very premise is utterly amoral and rather inept, and sure enough, as President, Bill folded every time some sleazy busybody with a closet full of sexual skeletons called him a dirty liberal. Instead of Joycelyn Elders, he gave us the Defense of Marriage Act. The worst voters in the country had to be placated. The master triangulator focus-grouped the bigots first and foremost. If there’d ever been anything liberal worth a damn about that ghoul, we would never have blundered anywhere near the position in which it was more politically inflammatory to encourage teenagers to carry condoms in their purses (Be Prepared!) than to execute a guy retarded enough to set his pie aside for the evening.

We can see where some of the hostility arises towards face masks in our time of global sickness. Fascist argumentation has, unsurprisingly, driven psychotic ideation about personal and public hygiene. It’s other people who get dirty and sick. Duh. Gentlemen surgeons have no need to wash their hands. Huh. Maybe medicine has a historical problem with fascism of its own.

It’s a poorly kept secret that the Third Way crew is viscerally uncomfortable with the poor. All we have to do is compare Hillary’s demeanor around the poor and their surroundings to Bernie’s. It’s night and day.

If individual poor can pull themselves up by the bootstraps under the cherished neoliberal framework, excellent; they make neoliberalism look as wonderful as themselves. Not so much if they get use public assistance to take care of their families, or if they collectively bargain through unions assertive enough to steamroll management and capital, or if they decide Trump is better for them than Her and vote accordingly. At that point, they suddenly don’t understand their own interests. They’re self-destructive idiots, voting for Elmer Gantry to dispossess themselves.

The Third Way would have said the same thing about William Jennings Bryan. This shit has nothing to do with policy, as the Democratic establishment shows time and time again. What they mean when they say that the poor vote against their own interests is that the poor vote against the interests of the affluent, as asserted by mealymouthed centrist Democrats. Tu casa es mi casa, pendejo. It’s what Mencius Moldbug called a nostrism. Bitch, who’s “us?”

NAFTA was good for the country. Okay, who the hell is the country? Who the hell is the economy? Can the fuckers even distinguish between the overbearing rich assholes who own the factory and the working stiffs who actually run it? Another whiny prick who blew the proceeds of his fabrication business on framed sports memorabilia is on NPR to bitch about how he *needs* discount Chinese steel to compete on the mercilessly competitive market. What the fuck does that do for a town full of people who got laid off when the hot mill closed, whose kids are now floundering on the margins somewhere between dead-end jobs at Dollar General and an archipelago of dope squats? What are the aggregate numbers worth? Who puts food on the table in the fucking aggregate?

Ah, swamp critters with think tank salaries and portfolios to defend. Of course.

They can’t possibly imagine they’ll win disaffected voters over by thundering on high from their 90% model minority (Asian/White) neighborhoods in Arlington that Trump’s supporters are on his side because they’re all unrepentant, incorrigible racists and sexists. Can they? Some of them are delusional enough to believe it, but the bigger impetus is their burning desire to humiliate and punish their inferiors. It’s the same thing they in the ACA with the individual mandate and the doubling down on affluent parents as the channel of health insurance for downwardly mobile young people whose age peers were already raising their own school-age children. Fuck you for not having insurance. Fuck you for not having a job. Fuck you for not deftly and happily Navigating The Marketplace.

Fuck you for thinking the company owes you a decent job doing something else if it won’t give you a decent job on the floor at the mill. Learn to code, bitch. Stack cash with Uber. Fuck you for not having a 110% serviceable late-model car. Invest in yourself. Fuck you for not finishing college.

And of course, fuck you for not voting for us. Why are you such a bitter uneducated racist? This abrasive lace curtain Irish car salesman-ass shithead from the Commonwealth of Chancery Court, LLC, and his creepy diversity office dungeon mistress lieutenant from the sniveling part of San Francisco (which one?), aslo a prosecutor, are here to defend you against predators.

Just trust us, for God’s sake. You ain’t black if you don’t. Why are you asking me about guns, punk? Let’s take it outside.

A bonechilling faculty brat sellout whose whole career reads as proof that affirmative action and Title IX are vectors of capricious discrimination is here riding shotgun to Bhad Bhabie with hair plugs, and we’re supposed wholeheartedly believe them decent, empathetic people, committed public servants looking out for us always.

There’s much to be said for voting for Trump expressly to punish these ghouls back. It isn’t hugely much; the #resistance is right that Trump’s bad. Maybe Nancy could fucking do something about him, then, like not expedite his homeland security wish lists. Mitch McConnell jammed up Barack Obama’s judicial appointments just to be an asshole. There’s no procedural reason Chuck and Nancy can’t both run a turtle-speed train on Trump’s entire agenda until he at long last behaves himself. Instead, Lady Gelati won’t even play good cop to Rashida Tlaib’s bad cop. She won’t even be Captain Queegan, sympathetically but firmly warning a punk to shape up and watch his ass, to Macky Mack, Steyaff Seaagent.

Good God is that an odd squad. It’s no wonder, then, that the convention featured a jarring juxtaposition between Pete Buttigieg waxing earnest about how he wasn’t allowed to live his gay truth until Obama and Biden finally allowed it with Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s obnoxious gag about Mike Pence being a perv and a fag. It’s no wonder that Yang got ganged into taking part in that extreme cringe. They would have decked him out in Kente if he’d been in town for that helping of spicy Jollof rice.

There’s zero principle to any of this shit. The orchestrators don’t care about the welfare or survival of ordinary African-Americans. They don’t care about sexual liberties. Our smarmy phony is good for being gay; your self-righteous demagogue is bad for being gay. Hurr durr Trump and Putin are butt buddies. First of all, that’s too improbable to consider, but what do coarse schoolyard taunts add to the already weak case that Trump is Putin’s Manchurian Candidate? Besides, we/ve known for years that the Saudis don’t need to personally sex our officials to have their way with them.

This is the party of sexual privacy as a human right, if you can believe it. Can they just let him have a private sex life and focus on something that matters? They’re studiously silent about the Epstein affair, the great Implicator of Faves. Maybe this would be a good time for shysters running cover for an international child sex trafficking organization to demur about their salacious speculation that Mike Pence is a switch hitter. It’s obnoxious, it’s stupid, it’s morally and civically derelict, and it isn’t going to win them a single vote.

Fancy them caring about that, though.

The Democrats are impressively unfunny. They raise it into something approaching an art. As performance bits go it’s excruciating, but there’s something awesome about their dedication to inept self-seriousness so total as to produce political standup routines with all the lameness of Jimmy’s summer camp set on South Park but none of the entertainment value.

Maybe comedy, too, is that polarized. Shit. It’s confusing to come across so many liberals who see absolutely nothing funny about the Oaf of Office when he waxes rude about “college students, crummy students, great students, horrible students, dumb people, liberal people, conservative people….people with PhD’s from MIT, people with PhD’s from crummy colleges.” Their objections to him are aesthetic: Barry and now even George the Younger barely register with them for having done things that were just as bad. Paradoxically, this keeps them from enjoying the amazing aesthetic gifts he brings to the presidency.

Again, this shit is a distraction from the people’s business, which the Democratic Congressional caucuses steadfastly refuse to do. If they brought serious articles of impeachment against him and eighty-sixed his ass, he’d be free that night to get airtime for blurting out the same ridiculous shit as ever, just not from a high public office invested with the most frightening powers.

The Democrats care about aesthetics. What distinguishes them from the Republicans is that theirs are atrocious. A small community of squeamish nerds digs that shit and everybody else hates it. The Epic Clapback could have been fun, but Fancy Nancy doesn’t know how to have fun. The giorno di gelati came close, but it, too, was overly performative and forced. Nobody had fun at the Kente Cloth Kneeling Ceremony. They don’t enjoy delivering their lectures.

They’re too desperate to defeat an opponent they refuse to meaningfully oppose to enjoy Funny Uncle Joe’s recurrent brain scrambles, which–let’s be honest–are hella funny. “Covid has taken this year, just the outbreak, has taken more than one hundred year–Look, here’s it–The lives, it’s just, it’s–I mean, think about it, more lives this year than any other year in the past hundred years.” If it’s okay to ridicule anyone for talking like that, Joe’s it. He’s a psychopath pretending to be a left-liberal and a reactionary authoritarian at once, nominated for the presidency on the cusp of eighty because his crooked party fixed the primaries on his behalf, appearing in public with a skull full of watered-down Quaker Instant Oats.

Why can’t we make fun of his cokehead son? He got the kid sinecures with Amtrak and Burisma. I make fun of Larry Kudlow for being a cokehead, too. They aren’t all that shitty, but a lot of them are. Rob Ford is okay, though; dudes rock!

It’s not like the Trump Organization, which we actually have good reasons for calling that, isn’t crawling with shambolic characters and covered in the splatter of their hilarious substance abuse problems. Steve Bannon seems like one the Dems could fun to good effect. Our boy Stephen Kevin decided to bamboozle the griftable with a story about how he was going to Build The Wall, privately, on federal property, with their donations. The only thing that chunky dunker was about to build was another mound of corned beef and cabbage to ward off the whiskey munchies. Can you believe it?

Bannon, like his donors, had what the Massachusett elders called Lassen Knee Innis Hat. Did I ever tell you about the time Vladimir Putin rode a tiger all the way through the taiga? Somehow, these stories only ever get worse; that one’s so headspinning I can hardly bear to tell it myself. Can you believe they got Charlie off and gave him his own checkpoint? CHAHLEE! My favorite Vova anecdote, though, is about the time he joined a search party to look for a group of old hunters who’d been friends in the war, a Czech, a Brit, and a Frenchman. The search party came across two exceptionally plump and sated bears. Uh-oh. Vladimir Vladimirovich drew his sword and with a single deft stroke sliced open the belly of the sow, revealing the Brit and the Frenchman. Turning to his horrified companions with a shrug and a smirk, he said, “Well, I guess the Czech’s in the male.”

That was free, whatever the hell it was supposed to be. The wall isn’t. When I first read about Bannon’s wall grift, I assumed he was hard up for cash after living beyond his means. Then I read that he was worth $48m, acid enough for as many hot tubs and trips as he desired. It turns out what he did was almost archetypal: people who study white-collar crime say it’s never the guy making $80k who goes crooked for a windfall of $3m, but always the guy making $3m who cheats for an extra $80k.

That tubby old parrothead-looking-ass lush stacked the cash because he was totally gonna build the wall. They had to send a crew of Coasties and Posties out to bring him back from #YachtLife. What the hell was wrong with him? Switzerland doesn’t have a maritime border, but Costa Rica does. You might want to Christopher cross into waters that don’t fall under our extradition treaties, big guy.

Whale oil beef hooked, Huizenga, it is a hearty Colcannon. Mercy, my Dutch love, oil beef hentai Eire leaf hooked to lie me yeas upon the flue of lard sloughing off that greasy hot cross bun.

That was rude. I guess we should just let the make-believe Veep call the real Veep a fag instead. Vote for Cuomo, not the homo. *Impossibly annoyed Alan Chartock bedtime voice* I’ve always wondered when the party would run a colored man for that office.

Bright college daze

This is, in countries without recent histories of extreme wartime devastation, the worst time in a century to go to college. It’s a terrible time to go to school in general. Anything besides cautiously supervised lab practica should be on hold until the Ailment is credibly under control. We aren’t there yet, so #TeshTips, my good binch: school is out.

What’s actually happening, of course, is nothing like what I just described. A small number of students in nursing, medicine, welding, and other curricula that require meatspace study are dwarfed, as always in these degenerate United States, by hordes of students who have no particular reason to enroll, let alone study, other than Mother And Father Would Be Upset. Do we want to risk the ridicule of our psychiatrically unstable striver friends for just kind of hanging around, in the same fashion as our little friend from Fort Detrick? Of course not.

The schools are here to capitalize on it. That’s a whole-ass Men’s Warehouse Guarantee, right there. My alma mater, Dickinson College, appears to have responded to the pandemic relatively reputably, the standard being the apparent failure to commit outright fraud on individuals enrolling their money for the coming academic year. That is, the administration didn’t announce the reopening of campus in time to collect room and board fees, then close back up for the semester just after the cutoff date to apply internally for a refund.

I’m sure America’s institutions of higher education run their Title IX sex crimes tribunals in a manner too just and competent for their rulings ever to be held constitutionally unenforceable in a court of law. Campus housing is often barely inhabitable in the best of times, but because we can’t just, like, teach our adolescents adult skills, but insist on putting them through bullshit rites of passage, it’s considered worthy and not at all embarrasing to complain about dorms that do NOT resemble Chinatown SRO’s. We aren’t building enough character in our young.

Yeah, how about you go build character out on that ice floe.

The lawsuits are already starting, exactly as any no-backs slumlord shyster affiliated with $100k-plus in declared endowment assets per current customer should have expected in the global leader in lawyers. The schools just can’t help themselves. It’s amazing. They actually send lawyers out to argue that word is bond and their mentally competent customers freely signed contracts whose clearly stated terms included a cutoff date to request refunds. Yeah, and you know what else was in the fucking terms? Four months in accommodations that were vacated and shuttered after two weeks.

The defense attorneys here didn’t just show up after the fact to a mess they had no idea their clients had made. The only reason these schools have defense lawyers contest any of these claims instead of immediately providing full refunds on demand is to further their fraud. Most parents and students wouldn’t go through with suits if they received prompt refunds, even if there were credible prospects of additional damages. They’d cut their losses and be done with the headache. Many of our schools wish to screw their customers over anyway. To do that in these circumstances, they need lawyer accomplices.

Additional information is available in O. J. Simpson’s new book, with Kim Kardashian, “If Bob Did It.”

Really, though, collecting full tuition for the balance of the Spring 2020 term after the end of instruction in person or for the joke of a fall term now upon us is indefensible. We all know, somewhere deep down inside, or maybe somewhere not so deep, that online education is a joke. C’mon, do you really call that college? Any ridiculous outfit in this sleazy country is allowed to print out diplomas with some bollocks in Latin and call itself a college or a university: Corinthian, De Vry, Phoenix, USC. Until this year, the main reason we maintained the polite fiction that online education is just as valid as brick-and-mortar, or kinda sorta pretended to go along with that, was that we’re too stingy and sleazy as a society to provide the time off or the subsidized tuition common in countries whose farmers are happy to spray liquefied cow manure on riot police. Now that it’s medically unsafe to congregate in school buildings, not just too expensive for the serfs by the reckoning of our worst Reaganite shitheads, we’re mumbling about how Zoom maybe works okay some of the time because it is what it is, and specifically it’s impossible.

Like hell is that worth $40k a year. We’re talking about some shit like $50 or $75 an hour for twenty-way teleconferences on a janky platform nobody had heard of at the start of this calendar year. This is under a model that already forces students to pay to do work outside class and get smeared on the permanent record if they do a poor job on it.

The fuck is this? Real estate in Palo Alto? If this is what we’re doing, I think I’ll pay for a full steak dinner with a loosely packed takeout bag full of deposit bottles. Rough multiplication is one kind of math I know, and we’re using a pretty generous multiple here.

Ah, yeah. That’s right: we’re the ones who pay, and they’re the ones who charge. Vinny No-Knees, he ain’t da one ain’t got da knees.

Strike up the Saturday Morning Big Band, Simon, for many of our esteemed schools are turbocharging this shakedown with #SPORTS! Why would it not be time? Their student athletes must be on campus for their studies, but their nonathletic scholars must not. Good God. Who are we accusing of going to class now?

It’s not a job; it’s amateurism. Okay, then. If they love it so much, why do they have to be told to show up? Since we don’t count me based on my obsessive internal prompts, nobody is barking at me to write this shit. Nobody is on my ass, like, generate content, pig. Why do the sports we so love, as players and as spectators, operate like shitty McDonald’s franchises? Three tardies and a no-call mean an immediate conversion to unemployment, and I hear that’s pretty generous in fast food today, but they keep saying college ball is NOT a profession.

What they mean is it’s unpaid. They hire and schedule their workers, but they don’t pay them. If fact, it’s against the rules for players to solicit or receive payments from third parties for their very profitable services. It’s a huge scandal when a coach sweetens the deal with cars or shoes or hookers. Turn the kids into half-assed Kato Kaelins and you’re a shyster; personally profit forever and ever and you’re a civic leader.

We’re adding exceptional health hazards to the missing hazard pay this year. This is what one does for the love of the game and the interest in retaining one’s scholarship.

That’s the only sanctioned compensation. The company pays these kids in scrip. Then the administration wonders why the athletes and their groupies won’t refrain from getting wasted and hollering all night at parties during a pandemic.

Gee, I’m just a fuckup from a no-cut high school cross country team, but did you think about not ordering them to return to campus? Maybe there’d be fewer teenaged doofuses running around and breathing on everyone in sight if there were fewer invitations.

Temporarily removing the profit motive would vigorously cut back the hooting and hollering and coughing. Everyone on campus and in town knows the problem bars. They could start just by shutting down the major vectors: sit-down dining, lecture halls, residential and food service operations for nonessential members of the campus community, and of course the fucking oaf bars.

No shit a lot of these kids will still find ways to party. Here’s the question: Will they move out of town to party with people they’ve never met who are also from out of town, or will they party back home with people they already know? It isn’t brain surgery to restructure incentives to minimize recreational travel. In this case, all the schools have to do is not order impulsive young people to gather in congregate settings. Don’t put out the fucking all-call for the youth hooliganism strange attractors. Just don’t fucking be the oaf who catalyzes that shit during a global respiratory pandemic.

There’s no truly banishing the profit motive from the athletic programs and the bars when the profit margins are so high, but governments can still come down with a well-placed jackboot on recalcitrant institutional actors or pay maintenance for the duration of the Sickness. The latter is objectionable since these outfits are always more solvent than they say. Geez, where the heck did my money go? Do I have an S Corp? All the same, it’s better than allowing them to act on excuses to stay open, such as “we needed the gross,” or the health department not physically clearing the premises and barring the door. The perfect is the enemy of the good. We can still do better than that, but we’d best not do much worse.

This whole ecosystem is a massive racket, of course. If a high-volume athletic program or student bar that’s been operating for anywhere from thirty years to a couple of centuries is reported to be facing bankruptcy if it shuts down for a year or two, that means the profits were misappropriated. It doesn’t say how or where, but it does say that the money went bye-bye from the statements of cash on hand. It’s usually to evade liability and enrich the principals.

I don’t want to inveigh against the realization of profits from a popular, successful business in sweeping moral terms, but some of these characters really need to shut up about times being tight, even if they are. Whoever owns the Gingerbread Man on the square in Carlisle is rich. I’m sorry, but those fuckers are loaded, and that’s a fact. If they can’t make it through 2021 still solvent, it’s either because they blew the money on stupid shit or are lying about their finances for sympathy and handouts.

It’s become commonplace again, as it was in the leadup to the Great Depression, to invest on margin. Again, this is not evidence that the market is tight and merciless in our competitive free enterprise system. Did the owners of the meatmarket blow half a mil on NASCAR memorabilia and a powerboat? Did the trustees use the football program as collateral to get a mortgage on the new dorm tower? These aren’t problems intrinsic to barkeeping or higher education. That’s like saying, shit, I can’t make ends meet on $200k, but what the hell do you mean it’s because I spend too much at the poker tables? I WORK HARD to go to Reno!

Americans love to bitch about shit like this. It would be moral hazard to increase food stamp benefits or make hot food to go eligible, but it’s right and proper to spend five or ten times as much per capita on people who used serious business income to lose money by being stupid and degenerate. This is why Bob Rotanz needs da gibs in these hard times, along with every four-year college in the land.

Our public health crisis is gonna get our schools rekt. The class actions will be lit. The administrators will whine, but sow lawyers today, reap lawsuits tomorrow. It’s a profit center one way or another.

God willing, the festivities will finally crash college sports. Ordering hundreds of yahoos back to campus for high-contact sports against public health advice as a matter of contractual right will make the schools involved look awful when they defend it in open court, and they will. The NCAA and its member schools have been making too much of a scene about their exclusive right to profit from the labor of their athletes not to assert their right to rescind scholarships for athletes who express health concerns about a pandemic constantly in the news.

The claims profitable programs make about their prerogatives to exploit their “student” athletes have always been preposterous. Adding the right to sicken or kill them for the ratings may be the overreach that makes the courts lose their shit. This may be the year they finally rule that the very corporate model at play is designed to violate every principle of contract and intellectual property law going back to the Magna Carta.

If that isn’t technically correct, it won’t be the first time the courts have made shit up. They had to do it to fail to invalidate the amateur model in these programs in the first place. Anybody holding that entertainers should have to relinquish the marketing rights to their own names and likenesses because they’re working for free is an ass.

Then again, it’s about what should be expected of institutions that assert the contractual right to furnish negative recommendations because the subjects are paying them to work. Do I sound like I’m about to reconsider this position because what I’m describing is a poor GPA? Fuck that. That’s my whole point. Since we don’t seem interested in establishing our employability by getting and holding gainful jobs, insisting instead on sheets of mumbo-jumbo about different letters and numbers arising from work the evaluators cannot remember and nobody retains, maybe we can streamline the bribery operation into a one-stop shop.

Shit, I guess that’s what got Rick Singer into trouble. Carry on, then. Surely this is an opportune year to spend a prior year’s earnings either getting sick unto death in a bougie barracks or chatting with new computer friends from home. This cannot possibly be anything but smart. This is your life. Inject it with intelligence, #BigBandStyle, until it bursts.

D mock crass, see

NPR’s initial coverage of the debut of Kamala Harris was loathesome. Hope springing intermittent, I’d been foolish enough to expect better, not good by any stretch but also not excruciatingly embarrassing. Oops. The breathless fawning over Harris’s great liberal vision, personal toughness, popularity, and trailblazing ethnic identity was beyond my tolerance, so I actually turned the state radio off a few times to spare myself, but I got a taste of it, good and hard.

NPR is the same network that aired an El Paso Walmart shooting survivor’s insight that “as a Latina, you sometimes argue with your mother.” Christ. Are they Jews now? The Harris debut is that, but lasting for days, and focused on one prominent psychopath’s bottomless virtue, warmth, and popularity. For the Harris festivities, they interviewed a lady who collaged her own Biden-Harris sign at home and an Indian doofus who gushed about Kamala for being one of his kind. My excruciating favorite was Robin Young’s softball to Amy Klobuchar about how she removed herself from consideration for the vice presidency because she felt passionately that the nomination should go to a woman of color. Klobuchar is an ice-cold weirdo who yells bloody murder at her staffers and throws projectiles at them, so I’m sure her dwelling place in an even uglier part of the uncanny valley than Harris had nothing to do with her decision, and surely there was no partisan corruption or intrigue at play for an elder stateswoman of her character.

Listening to that sneering freak enthuse about her fellow prosecutrix was like getting Dennis Rader’s thoughts on the upcoming sheriff’s election. “With Dahmer unfortunately departed, many have been asking me to run, but I’m as much of a kraut as that treacherous bastard Landwehr, and I’ve come to believe that the position demands a colored fellow. Say what you will about Joseph DeAngelo, but know this: He’s an Italian. Joe won’t just be a top cop. He’ll be a wop cop.”

This is exactly what the KHive and its allies are doing with their rewarmed idpol shit. They’re being just as crude as I am. The difference is that they’re pretending to be refined and intelligent, not disingenuous wokescolding partisan hacks.

I voted for Loretta Sanchez twice in 2018, but I guess she doesn’t fit NPR’s bill as a Congresswoman of Color. This may have something to do with her being genuinely liberal, not a deeply illiberal megalomaniac. The Wilson-Deukmejian Republican vote was going to go somewhere, and not all of it followed Mark Fuhrman up north onto the Whitey Rez. In 2018, it went to John Cox and Kamala Harris. Cox is a proud Republican who loves to yell about crazy shit. That talk radio energy falls flat in the burned-over district off Mark West. Harris is a grandstanding wackass herself, but she codes it to barely meet rich liberals’ standards for dinner party respectability.

Kamala is popular in many rich white neighborhoods. Is it because she’s black? Oh yeah sweet baby girl it is. Few dare admit it, probably even to themselves, but what they cherish in her is the cover she gives them for their most bigoted authoritarian impulses. They’re squeamish around brashly authoritarian Republican white boys like Pete Wilson noting that California traditionally cooks with gas but they’d consider switching to electric. It makes them feel bad to quietly agree that minority crime is a real problem having more than a bit to do with their settling in the hills.

Harris, then, is a real Brahmin score, a black yuppie who’s made it on the San Francisco social scene and talks a great game about shit like the importance of education and the professional gatekeepers of the nonprofit-industrial complex. She’s sassy, but not TOO sassy, and she QUIETLY locks up the young bucks. For disingenuous hypocrites whose currency is virtue-signaling, Kamala Harris isn’t a hardhearted prosecutor who spent much of her career disproportionately incarcerating black and brown constituents for a combination of extremely minor offenses like their children’s truancy from school and the state’s interest in maintaining a full complement of inmate firefighters; she’s their black friend.

These are affluent, sheltered people who get really irate and defensive when their politics are challenged, especially by those they presume their fellow travelers. One reserves one’s worst ire for the apostate, not the heathen. Why the fuck are Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris feminism, but not Jill Stein and Loretta Sanchez? Have they ever even tried feminism? Katie Hill has. The common denominator of what it means to be With Her is center-left yuppies shrieking about the absolute need to support some of the most vicious, illiberal, corrupt candidates the Democratic Party coughs up for high office. We need to defeat the bad orange man, they scream.

Okay. Find me a challenger who isn’t atrocious. The handsy hairsniffing funny uncle behind the crime bill and the student debt crisis has now chosen as his runningmate a crazed prosecutor who argued in court to keep the slaves in their camps to fight fires on the cheap. Biden and Harris are literally slavers. Kamala prefers direct slavedriving, while Uncle Joe demands to Shanghai the poor into debt servitude as an adjunct to the slave camps.

These are just two terrible parts of their records. Knowing what I know just about American prisons, I cannot for one second believe that Donald Trump is the absolute standard of evil and danger in American politics. He’s running against two challengers with longstanding records of doing their damnedest to lock Americans up. Even his own ghoulish, Strangelovian Attorney General, Bill Barr, has directed the early release of federal prisoners in the interest of public health.

It’s telling, though, that so few #Resistance loudmouths have seized on Barr as an exceptional threat to our constitutional order and our civil liberties, instead continuing to focus on Trump as an utterly and uniquely bad leader. What they’re doing is pretty straightforward: they’re scapegoating the Oaf of Office for being a messy bitch. Barr cleans up well, just like every other depravity from the movement conservative hard right. They speak in public like white shoe lawyers. Trump speaks like exactly the celebrity drama queen he loves to be.

Hence the endless bellyaching about who on earth let HIM in here. Hence the squeamish whining about his activation of the white working class, a constituency that never would have come close to electing him without Trump’s much larger base of Optimate business success guys and right-wing professionals. Trump is an MBA leading a base heavy on dentists, car dealers, industrialists, and major landowners. He’s still widely presented as a washed-up carnival barker leading a rabble of out-of-work coal miners. The assumption is that they’re all uneducated, ignorant, and stupid: never mind the keen working intelligence needed to make it through the day in a shaft mine or a steel mill, of course.

In other words, Trump is unqualified to lead, and his voters are unqualified to vote. This is facially bogus under the US Constitution, of course, but the West Wing nerds don’t care about any of that shit when it conflicts with their prejudices. We need more and better political education, they moan. And where the hell do we go for that? MSNBC? That shit’s Wesley Willis psychotic, with none of the insight and humility. There are a lot of really disturbed people who would gladly admit that they must have been off their meds when they caught Vladimir Putin’s cube farm elves rewiring their brains over the computer. Shit, Aftab, you aren’t gonna believe it, and indeed he won’t. Maybe florid conspiracy theories about Kremlin mind control that ignore the overwhelming evidence of the losers’ political ineptitude should be taken on advisement.

Mind you, I’m just an overqualified loser myself, and I don’t even have the political sinecure to show for it. All I’ve gotten are interrogations about whether I’m wallowing in the samizdat. Nice try, officer. This party that demands my vote in exchange for more or less jack shit has taken an official stand about foreign election interference that is clinically paranoid and also extremely fucking whiny.

That’s just the aesthetic obnoxiousness of it. Substantively, it’s evasive, not just in how it deflects blame for self-inflicted fuckups but in how it projects every seedy and crooked thing about US politics onto foreign scapegoats. Our presidential campaigns are awash in manipulative ads costing over a billion dollars a cycle in recent years, but the problem is Grandmother’s special internet friend, a Russian pretending to be an American. We’re explicitly lectured to heed warnings from the “intelligence community.” Excuse me, but that lame-ass name is about as old as the Trump Administration, and those motherfuckers lie. There’s no warranty that any particular classified briefing our elected officials claim they can’t disclose to us isn’t a crock of shit. In point of fact they’re immunized against prosecution for reading classifed information into the Congressional Record, but solemnly intoning about their secret knowledge is mainly another way to lord it over the rest of us.

It’s unconscionable to be expected to treat any of this nonsense as prudence, not insanity. They work for us, not vice versa. We have a compelling interest in their honest services and every reason to demand it. This easily includes the disclosure of bad acts that have been given cover of classification. They actually have the nerve to lecture us about how we need to believe them that they have our best interests at heart when they’re obvious crooks and they refuse to offer us a full accounting of what they’ve heard from the spook nests.

Again, they fucking work for us, not for Langley. A den of liars who keep promising to tell the truth told them a bunch of shit that we’re now expected to take on faith even though we’re unworthy of the details. They want to know what we’re reading to give ourselves such outlandishly conspiratorial ideas, but they don’t trust us with full information about what they’re reading.

Yeah, here’s a point of order, punk: go fuck yourself.

These same ghouls won’t shut up about how much they’re doing for ordinary Americans. “Working families” seems to be the popular term of art, probably because the country has fewer residents than usual either working for a living or living in families. They do all this shit for “us.” For the Democrats, much of it is not being Donald Trump, as they loudly point out. In other words, they beat us up less than our ex did. They buy us flowers afterwards.

Who the hell is us? It’s obviously bougie trash who are too squeamish and self-esteeming to Bradley Effect John Cox into the Senate to protect their property values. That ain’t me, chief.

This is not an incidental, negotiable point. My circumstances and interests have dramatically diverged from those of my parents and their peers, and I fucking expect our elected officials to do something about it. That’s the whole fucking point of politics. It’s precisely and exclusively the raison d’etre of representative democracy: we vote and they act on our demands.

The yuppies, young and old, who vote for dungeon crawlers like Kamala Harris and Eric Garcetti fully understand this. They vote against Bernie Sanders because they fear, correctly, what he’ll do to their privilege in the broad public interest. Their prerogatives as gatekeeper and rentiers will become unenforceable. They’ll have to do something honest for a living or just live on their properties, not exploit them for financial gain at their neighbors’ expense. Their portfolios may lose value.

Personally, I’m sympathetic to their fears of socioeconomic decline and retaliation, having caught a fair bit of it myself. This is why we so desperately need to equalize our society, to level up the worst-off and ensure that none among us ever again crashes into their degraded circumstances.

What I find absolutely unsympathetic is their insistence on speaking on behalf of the entire left-leaning swathes of the poor and the downwardly mobile. Nobody has my blessing to speak over me on my behalf. That’s when I talk over them until they shut the fuck up. Biden, Harris, and their ilk have done significant articulable damage to my prospects and circumstances, and I do not forgive them. They need to whole-ass 180 their ship to have a chance in hell of winning my grace. They didn’t incidentally or accidentally flood the zone with bad, ill-disciplined cops, cater to the worst banks, or structure the disbursement of public funds in ways maximizing the employment of obedient failchildren in gatekeeping positions at the expense of beneficiaries who need the fucking help.

Anything I have to do with Biden or Harris is going to be 100% transactional. They need to shut up and serve me. Again, this is the point of politics: voters don’t turn out, let alone campaign, for candidates they don’t expect to effectively and consistently serve them. If that’s Donald Trump and not Joe Biden, what the fuck else am I supposed to say? This is the point at which a shrieking chorus of property owners who have lived for decades in segregated neighborhoods angrily call me a racist, but Fat Cracka ain’t here cause he cares about any of that.

This same affluent, notionally liberal constituency proudly proclaims that it cherishes an engaged, passionate citizenry. Then that passion and engagement works in Donald Trump’s favor, even a touch, and they flip their damn shit about how the only people who even think about voting for him are idiots, ignoramuses, and bigots. Maybe check out the records of his opposition if you’d care to revise your statements; hell if I know. I could drive to the watering tub just over the hill on 29, or I could get screamed at for the better part of an hour a block off Silverado. It probably depends on how much company I need.

Joey and Kammy–those two are in no position to tell me how they are to be addressed–are thrust before us as the indispensable bulwarks of relative good against the absolute evil of Donald of Orange. It’s a cool story for those of us who are familiar with precedents for much worse evil in American politics: you know, Preston Brooks, Woodrow Wilson, George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, the rest of the CIA. We had an NGO gig in Indonesia under the Ford Foundation, yeah? We tortured some folks, yeah? We’re just trying to deal with our old grievances against past administrations more aloha here. *Juicily disturbed Guy Hagi voice* See you out in the Pacific!

Now, white Punahou alumni aren’t supposed to pass da kine of da local parlance into themselves, and Mocha Haole is half white. In fact, he’s wholly White. What I’m writing about our first half-white president is a spicy poke bowl. Any worse and I’d be in public office myself. In fairness, he’s pretty competent at politics, apparently convicing a plurality of Americans that he’s a black guy from Chicago and half-assedly reforming the health insurance system to spottily restore coverage to young people whose affluent parents raised them to vote.

Don’t let anybody tell you the politics of division don’t work. They work great for messy bitches from Queens, too. Many wonder about our Thicc Moist Boi’s acumen for responding to a combined public health and economic crisis by Posting Through It, but he’s in show business, same as ever, and he’ll continue to grift his goobers whether he stays or goes. So will the Democrats. Does any of this look like it’s NOT a business?

The coming politics of unity this November and the four years starting the following January is another piece of fantasy fiction. It’s Harry Potter, but with gravity, as Shoko Asahara is said to have ultimately experienced. We obviously spend too much time reading about Bartlets and wizards and construing them as political models. If I published Keebler Elf fan fiction recapitulating the beleaguered yeoman virtue of the early modern English farmer, I doubt I could justify the cultural disgrace with the royalties, not in a land whose public television network is always airing bitch-ass Downton Abbey. Nah, let’s be real: I’m not too self-respecting to refrain, just too disorganized.

Who the fuck are we gonna unify this fall? Americans who earnestly regard that stupid manor soap as reputable, harmless entertainment with those of us who correctly identify it as lame, low-key seditious trash about a castle full of the most miserable cunts? Affluent, secure property owners with precarious to flat-ruined renters? Is there a place for the homeless in this coalition? I don’t mean as an agenda item for do-gooders to handle; I mean actually fucking listening to the homeless, as Democratic politicians do to any shitlib homeowner with property values to defend. I can tell I’m on the wrong side of that transaction for having personal experience, as far as they’re concerned.

On that gross topic, I’m not here to accept ANY blame from them for having become or remained homeless. They’re always free to start blaming their own propertied base for making homelessness such a huge problem by being pushy about zoning and chasing cheap deals that screw over workers. Besides, you don’t win voters over in politics by blaming them. Donald Trump knows this. The Democratic establishment is so accustomed to abusing the lower strata of its own target base that it doesn’t care. We’re obviously on the shitlib do-gooders’ side. What upsets them is when they talk over us and we have the insolence to talk back. They’re highly qualified, you see.

Yeah, it’s passionate political engagement, bitch, and political ignorance it is not. I’ve closely followed Bill De Blasio, Lori Lightfoot, Jacob Frey, Jenny Durkan, Ted Wheeler, and Eric Garcetti over the summer. Blue no matter who is going great!

Lose me with the cult shit. That’s like pointing out that George Pell is Roman Catholic. It’s meant as a disingenuous appeal to tribal affiliation but works out as a grand object lesson in derelicts and moral horrors who should immediately be banished from any party claiming the mantle of the left. I don’t need a reason to stay Catholic, incidentally because nobody is all up in my face to demand my fealty to bad clergy. On the other hand, I’m not a Democrat. Yes, I’m registered as one, but all that means is that I’ve told the registrar of elections to let me vote in Democratic primaries. I am not a member of that outfit and have never been. Do I sound that stupid? Go bother your own people.

If the Democrats want me on board, or millions of other Americans who are angry about the way both parties have been running the country, they can run on a platform that isn’t dogshit and be credible about it. For starters, they can promise to provide for public medical and dental coverage on demand and free at the point of service, a medical debt jubilee, a student debt jubilee, the imposition of strict oversight and discipline on the police, an end to qualified immunity, an end to civil asset forfeiture absent a conviction or verdict of liability, the prosecution of bad cops and prosecutors, the systematic release of prisoners who do not pose an articulable and credible threat to public safety or welfare, the systematic overhaul of the entire criminal justice system, postal banking, a crackdown on residential evictions and foreclosures, a major buildout of high-quality public housing, the close regulation of credit reporting agencies, strict limits on the use of credit scores, an end to drug tests (with narrow exemptions for truly high-risk positions, if need be), and a monetary and fiscal policy reestablishing a goal of full employment. It’s straightforward: we demand to be treated like fellow people and fellow citizens, to have our general welfare safeguarded in the same fashion as the most affluent, and to regain the liberty to tell bad actors in positions of authority to fuck off witout suffering consequences for prosocial assertions of our rights.

What would the Democratic Party say to this? We already know. Oh, be reasonable. That’s unrealistic. You’re asking for too much. We need to appeal to moderate swing voters in the suburbs. (Cool, property owners again). Be patient and wait your turn. Go back to school. Learn to code. The loser can have a little means-tested tax break, as a treat.

If this shitty party insists on catering to the shittiest elements of the upper middle class, there’s nothing the openly poor, downwardy mobile, or precarious can do to directly force it to actually be the big tent it brags about being. They’ve rigged their own presidential primaries twice in a row to ratfuck their most popular candidate, done their best to marginalize him as he’s tried to engage and influence their platform, and surrounded themselves with a forcefield of prissy bougies who feel beleaguered for having home equity but not the prerogative to summarily silence insolent peasants.

Here’s where it gets abusive again. What happens if we defect? What happens if we tell them to go fuck themselves? Oh no, you can’t do that! You can’t vote Republican! You can’t vote Green or Libertarian! How can you say ANYTHING good about Trump? Blue no matter who! We need to stop him! We need to stop Putin!

What the hell Putin has to do with any of that, including Donald Trump, is pretty tenuous. In any event, it would be more reputable to examine our own interference as a nation in other nations’ elections.

It’s worth noticing that all they ever tell left-wing dissidents in their own defense is that they’re better than the Republicans. They’ve now reached the disgraceful point at which George W. Bush is better than the Republican Party, certainly better than Big Orange. They can take that take straight to hell, no $200 on the way past Go. A survey of what they actually represent and accomplish shows that they’re too busy for the little people because they’re occupied in a spirit of great devotion with the psychic and material maintenance of their real base: affluent Brahmin conformists. They’re siding with a prickly, defensive constituency articulably adverse to me as socioeconomic and cultural actors. They’re representing voters whose politics have already done me significant harm and have killed many.

Guys. Ya gotta do better.

Not to brag, I was right about Trump being too outrageous and provocative not to stir up opposition to agendas he shared with centrist Democrats. They crafted the Crime Bill and continue to quietly delegate police violence to local agencies; he had federal goons gas and beat protesters out from the curtilage of a church for an absurdist photo op with a bible, had goons go on rampages in Portland that helpfully distracted the public from Ted Wheeler’s failure to control the PPB, and fumed at length about his plan to deploy feds to Chicago, distracting from another Democratic city government’s deployment of out-of-control municipal police. They allowed the GOP to ratfuck the Post Office with pension prepayment obligations, left these obligations in place through two years of unified Democratic government, and publicly mulled privatizing the Post Office; he appointed a blatantly corrupt crony Postmaster General to remove mailboxes and sorting equipment a bit over a month before an expected huge surge in electoral mail.

Trump is such an incorrigibly messy bitch, he forces the Democrats to do their job and stand up to him. They can’t West Wing it and throw all the usual little people into the buzzsaw; he makes the whole gig too blatant, forcing them to act on their avowed principles. A good reason to fear Biden and Harris is that they’ll revert Washington to the usual bipartisan civility gobbledygook, giving themselves and Congress the cover to workshop more privatization schemes. I say workshop because nobody has yet been able to get the full privatization of Social Security or the USPS into law on account of the blowback. Even so, we’ll have to stay on guard, even more than we do with a raging oaf appointing a sleazy doofus who owns lots of FedEx and UPS stock to unabashedly trash the Post Office. That’s reason enough to distrust and resent the Democratic ticket.

Shit. Maybe Biden and Harris are having Trump kayfabe them into a position that will force them to beef up the USPS. This shit can be baffling. Chuck the Schmuck and the Donald get along fabulously behind closed doors and open curtains, a heartwarming bipartisan friendship between two greazy bridge-and-tunnel sleazeballs. I doubt Obama minded being smeared as a Sharia Mau-Mau when he’d already spent so much of his life establishing himself as a member of the Chicago Community. Or, as his Vice President Emeritus would say, you’re articulate, but you ain’t black!

I doubt Kamala minds the tokenization, either. It’s powered much of her career. In fact, I’d be surprised if the campaign isn’t directing the fawning idpol coverage of her debut. They must expect it to appeal to Millennial Voters of Color. Every Thirty Seconds a young Latin becomes eligible to teach Antonio Villaraigosa Spanish. Personally, I’d start with English. At least they’ve still got that colored fellow Garcetti as mayor, although word on the streets in the Gateway Cities has always been that Paul Tanaka is white.

These are the things that matter when the police are committing an armed insurrection against the citizenry. With Kamala, it’s an overachieving Indian-Jamaican state beatdown. It’s a refusal of color to reexamine the conviction of that Persian son of a bitch who definitely shot RFK without any help.

The party line is that Harris will help win over the minority youth vote. Okay, but why is she so hated and distrusted in young minority neighborhoods and so popular with shriveled-up old honky motherfuckers? Look. I’m just trying out racial essentialism; I learned it on NPR.

Duh. She’s got Whitey’s back. It’s the same answer as before. NPR is dressing her up for the fancy crackers. This is why we hear about how the Indians love her because, like the Oaf of Office, they love the Hindu. It’s why we hear about how the Jamaicans love her because she’s an overachieving Jamaican from an overachieving Jamaican family. Say, could you shut the fuck up about your above-average children? We grow enough of that shit at home not to have to import it.

Of course not. It’s NPR.

For all the identitarian shit and wonkery, Totebag Nation has no grasp of how the racial framing of Kamala Harris plays with young voters. It keeps hitting me that thirty-year-olds today have spent their entire adult lives under either a two-term black president or his immediate successor, who barely beat a woman in the general election. There are no assurances that young voters see anything trailblazing about Harris, while it’s well established that many of them are unhappy with her record. Most of them, if they vote, will still vote for her, but mainly because they’re horrified by Trump, or just sick of him. The suspicion that she’s a phony, a sellout, and a ghoul won’t be put to rest with fawning coverage on NPR. They’ll sour on Harris and Biden in a hurry if they don’t deliver the goods in ways that repudiate their own longstanding records. They’re already off on a bad foot for being a cop and a rapist in a time when both roles are under great fire.

Can you believe it, DeAngelo? They can’t even maneuver a hand truck through a supermarket warehouse!

Did you know that Kwesi Millington is an Afro-Canadian? Did you know that Monty Robinson is an Indian drunkard? If you’ve been around here long, I’m afraid you do. I shouldn’t polerize our politics, so of coarse I do exactly that.

I don’t know why I just thot of that, but they don’t seem to be sending us their best.

Reopen the economy? In this economy?

Some stupid asshole is always being insufferable in public about something, here on this side of heaven. Is this place our punishment? It’s best not to contemplate these things too closely; the abyss loves to make eye contact. We can and should give thanks that it isn’t always an evening in Gethsemane; sometimes it’s just a huge pain in the ass.

I guide us into this patch of darkness to lead us through it and out. We need to keep things in perspectives, Lionel. Joe Biden’s holding a virtual rally next week; everybody’s welcome and his son is dead. Our Thicc Moist Boi at 1600 Pennsylvania loves being a messy bitch. If that’s all he’s doing, just getting a new layer of mess on his moistness, we should give thanks, and our troubled hearts a rest, but more importantly we should maintain focus on what he’s DOING. He was probably speaking in code to threaten Ghislaine Maxwell when he wished her well, the topic he’d appeared before the press to discuss having been the Rona. If so, it’s more germane than his beef with Fauci, where he’s the last mouthy fuckhead standing. This might be a good reason to vote for Biden, on the premise that he’s just a sleazy grabass, not a jetsetting high society pervert.

All the same, leaving aside the red herrings, we’re still presented with a smorgasbord of stupid fit for the Bothnian drinking ferries. Drink your fill from the self-service wine tap; it’s shit, but it’s free. Derpeamus igitur. Just because it’s stupid doesn’t mean it’s germane; just because it’s germane doesn’t mean it’s within our capacity to process.

Bone uppy tit!

****

Things seem dumber and dumber these years. A scrum of nattering beatniks wandering North Beach or a slime of hippie dirtbags slouching around in the Haight-Ashbury didn’t much matter; neighbors who didn’t care for their shit could work for a living. It was, in fact, possible to lay in bed until eleven o’clock, with the coffee already burning, and still get by. America had its meddlesome authority figures, but they didn’t have nearly the leverage they exert today. It was easier to get a job because it was safer to quit a job. Telling a boss or a landlord to get fucked was much less likely to be catastrophic than it is today. The insolence kept its targets in line. They knew they’d lose employees or tenants to reputable competitors if they pushed the envelope. Their reputations as superiors mattered at least as much as the reputations of their inferiors. There are always predators looking to use their tinpot authority as a perch to hunt for prey, but there was a time, within living memory, when they broadly knew better than to take their chances.

It’s noteworthy that major cosmopolitan cities in the United States had real, easily describable economies in the first few postwar decades, not clusters of vapid amusements for easily bored yuppies amid surreal housing bubbles. San Francisco was fairly affordable before the dot-com horseshit of the nineties. The timing was no coincidence. A lot of stuff used to be manufactured, serviced, or shipped south of Market and east of Potrero. The computer business made sense as an industry. It was well-established by that point, decades old, run by quiet, sensible people who knew what they were doing and acted more or less normally and reasonably. Then a bunch of loudmouthed flimflammers showed up to wax insufferable about how they were revolutionizing everything online and go broke in third-party grocery delivery.

They kept bragging about failing loudly and proudly, in a tone strongly indicating that they had never faced, let alone experienced, real failure in their lives. They lost their fellow cokeheads’ seed money setting up businesses they could have bankrupted just as competently under a mail-order format. Nobody who flamed out in a public-facing role ever emerged visibly poor, and of course they were all rich. They all had rich friends and family to prime the stock pump with venture capital, talk up their stupid companies in the press, and, in Jeff Bezos’s case at least, jump in with emergency loans no workaday entrepreneur could ever expect to secure.

Want a job at Amazon, in on a good thing at its inception? Jeff needs to know your SAT score. Yeah, how about fuck off back into private life you bugeyed prick is my score, asshole. This shit proliferated in multiple cities at once. It welled up from the same poison spring. Seattle was a city of militantly unionized waterfront workers when Bezos showed up. You might not want to fly on a plane that goes Boeing Boeing Boeing, but you could get a damn well-paid and secure job building one. The same hustle was run on New York City, although mainly via high finance, and on the Beltway through lobbyists and their friends. More and more the only way to get ahead, or even to tread water, was to move to one of a handful of cities where the cost of living was going haywire on account of countywide real estate pump-and-dump rackets. An earlier FCC or FTC might well have shut Stan Merrill down, if not up. Bob Vila should have calmly locked every shithead from HGTV in a closet and done passive-aggressive carpentry projects around them over their whimpering until they passed out.

We’ve been a nation of disgraceful gamblers, grifters, and frauds ever since. If it’s in our national DNA, it must have been suppressed pretty thoroughly for decades. What the fuck is Sand Hill Road? It’s like going to see a mortgage officer, except you know the mortgage officer will be a puffed-up speed freak who got ritually raped into a college fraternity and won’t shut up about vision and paradigms and shit. Ellen Pao’s accusations sound like what most of those guys would do. I’d be furious at most of them myself, probably for being edgy and uncouth in sexual conversations I never welcomed, among many other gross things having nothing to do with business.

Unwell extortionists like Adria Richards show up for their pound of flesh, but please, we all know their accusations are the tip of the iceberg. The companies they accuse of fostering harassment are eminent targets for blackmail. This is a business that harbors Elon Musk and Peter Shih. At the other extreme, it harbors smug fartsniffers who go on Masters of Scale and preen about how Silicon Valley has tech entrepreneurship because it has coffeeshops, a terrible thing to not have on account of a move to Berkeley or Ann Arbor or any one-horse town with a diner.

Reid it and puke.

Post-dot-com tech inevitably warped people’s relationships to geography. Anybody who was anybody had to be on the Peninsula, which, say, now, you told us you were abolishing distance with your technological advancements you lying son of a bitch. Many of the prominent companies are of course pseudonovel rackets and shakedowns: patent-squatting outfits backed up by shyster lawyers like Microsoft, mob crews pimping out day laborers like Uber and Instacart, and dead-eyed totalitarian dystopias like Amazon. If a normal person is alerted that his warehouse workers are pissing in diapers on the floor until they’re carried out on stretchers on account of heat exhaustion, he’ll order an immediate top-to-bottom review of his warehouses. Jeff approves of these work conditions. They’re fit for the losers he hires to move his product. The SAT scores are weak in those ones.

The Ailment is shaking things up. It’s disrupting our shit. It’s moving our cheese back home. Huh, maybe all the bluster about high-tech remote work options means it’s time to allow for some fucking remote work, but that means the locational advantage of the City and the Valley diminish pretty dramatically, and that was a big part of the racket. Oopsy-doopsy, we may have done a wittle fucky-wucky. What do we do if one of our cokehead buddies from SAE used our venture capital to hire some Honduran women to wash yuppies’ dogs but the yuppies are moving to Reno, with time newly freed to care for their own pets?

****

Guess we better get in and monetize that trend, too. This was what set me off on this screed. Some hipster asshats are pitching bespoke trailer parks as the new place to be for digital nomads in the remote economy. That’s what always disappoints me whenever some overwrought wanker tires of the inner Bay Area rents and moves to Tracy: another grandiose thinkpiece about this hot new trend.

I wonder how anybody would imagine a pleasant, well-appointed doublewide, like maybe by sometimes socializing with ordinary Americans or shopping for their own groceries. Fred Meyer doesn’t have windows, so it must be dark inside, but you go in and you see it has ceiling lights. One couple might keep a tidy singlewide with serviceable state-of-the-art appliances, inviting furniture, and jars full of homemade cookies. Another couple might get drunk and hurl expired cans of Chef Boyardee at each other in their Addams Family-ass Craftsman. This is so odd. They have a house!

Yeah, but do you ever speak to people from below your station who aren’t your servants?

There’s plenty of #VanLife to be lived along the Nimitz Freeway, and there’s places you could still been a contenda on da Warterfront in Novato, recently as last night you coulda done dat, Christ Brando you absolute unit. Kibbo offers snacks, in fact, all for just $1,000 a month in membership fees, and Tentrr is another option, and come to think of it there is no alternative to the immediate banishment of everyone involved with this shit to the Sonoma Tard Farm.

For decades we’ve had right-wing normore fuckheads acting like they’re of modest means for RVing around the country, unlike jetsetting cosmopolitans who eat at restaurants and stay in hotels, omitting that they spend six figures buying kitted-out tour buses for access to $70+ nightly pull-through sites allowing them to reevacuate tanks full of their shit through a hose. That was conservative minimalism. Now we’re doing liberal minimalism or some shit, where instead of being a sentimental performative asshole from Dennydundiddlyland with a bumper sticker about how you’re spending your children’s inheritance you strut around like a twee performative hipster piece of shit who’s vanning around Queenstown for the Gram.

Every iteration of this culture attracts the worst, most self-satisfied jagoffs. KOA Nation bars the campground gate against clunkers whose owners need them for last-resort shelter. #VanLife entrepreneurs passive-aggressively preen about how their nice vans, unlike the shabby vans along the Nimitz, are tidy and full of neatly curated nice things, every sweater perfectly folded and stowed in its dresser drawer. We aren’t homeless; we’re nomads! It’s fascinating, coming from rich hipster cunts who are pretending to be lace curtain homeless for the attention. As someone who’s actually been homeless, I’m not trying to suborn punching every one of these smug fucks in the face, so please, don’t drive to Big Sur and do anything like that.

What rules is that they externalize the thirty-point IQ load of actual poverty, precarity, and transience onto their Amazon and Uber servants and STILL carry on like total retards. A thousand a month for a campground membership? Are you off your rocker? Yeah, I know, it’s a Veblen Good. Here’s something Veblen thought good: higher marginal rates. These twerps don’t want the government wasting their hard-earned trust fund distributions on frivolities or white elephants. They know better how to spend their own money than the government, which does not disburse Section Eight funds for the rental of bespoke Mercedes caravans.

Nah, the psychology is worse than that. Much worse. The hip, ironic Millennial customer base for this horseshit notices, uncomfortably, that there was a proliferation of residential and commercial capacity that suddenly crashed offline in 2008 because their cokehead classmates in i-banking blew up the international credit market on by betting on margin. There’s all this turnkey capacity but nobody has the cash or the credit to occupy it, except vulture capital firms. Destitute Americans, either homeless or nearly so, who could be living in foreclosed houses and maintaining them as their own homes are stripping the wiring to sell on the scrap market.

It’s unconscionable and insane, but our Boomer parents own real estate, and their friends don’t want to hear about how the whole system is illegitimate when they invite us to dinner parties. A handful of brutish hustlers with advanced cocaine, amphetamine, and alcohol problems deputize thugs at the cop shop to threaten and coerce tenants who fail to pay their venture capital firms rent on houses they bought at fire sale prices and now refuse to maintain. They keep properties vacant to drive up rents, i.e., to squeeze the productive for money they don’t have.

The evidence is damning. America’s landlords are dead to rights. It is impolitic, however, to say so at bougie dinner, among landlords. Hence all the horseshit about minimalism since 2008. It has been a free choice to live in cramped quarters, not a capitulation to unnecessary, intolerable coercion. The industry built all that shit on spec, and now that there’s too much of it nobody can rent it? What fucking planet is this? It’s the market? Well fuck the market then. Use eminent domain to take that shit and redistribute it to the public until the market starts functioning in the public interest. If we can seize private citizens’ houses to build ballparks, we can seize misallocated properties from the shysters hoarding them. They’d get a buyer that way lol.

We’d have heard a lot less about “tiny houses” and “van life” over the course of this Depression had we not been thrust into the Depression in the first place, with its bizarre circumstances of chronically high but underreported unemployment and rising rents in places with functioning job markets. The targets have been brutalized by the markets where they’ve had to rent. Hardly anybody buys a house these days without major parental assistance.

We should hope to notice something degraded and intolerable about renters having trouble finding or affording residential rentals and saying, oh well, guess I should move into a van. These new #DigitalNomad #VanLife hustlers are taking advantage of the public health orders shuttering nonessential offices to point out that fewer professionals have to commute to their offices in high-rent areas. This does nothing to explain why working full-time from home means that somebody should move into a fucking van. ‘It’s an opportunity to travel.” Okay. The targets here have the disposable income to spend $12k a year on a campground membership, so maybe they should keep living where they are unless they’ve found a better place to live and go traveling sometimes.

It sure seems like They are trying to normalize some bad shit with this trend, like accepting extremely expensive permanent accommodation in a van as a material condition of in-demand professional employment. They’re like, oh, you can go to Zion and Big Sur this way. Fascinating. These are bustling resort areas. Did their hotels all just burn down?

This is a gem:

Kibbo also thinks of itself as developing a new kind of roving cities comprised of a certain kind of membership.

“Unlike traditional top-down designed and built real estate developments, Kibbo is setting out to build the first of the next generation of cities: flexible, reconfigurable, designed and defined by the people that live in it, off the grid and sustainable,” O’Donnell said. 

That’s abject bullshit. Aside from the bollocks about sustainability, that sounds like the Joad migration. The Joads were climate refugees living in motor vehicles, too. “Climate change and the resulting flooding, fires and rising sea levels are going to change the kinds of infrastructure to support permanent housing, Abrahamson said.” What, like roads? That’s already on in Alaska.

These people are all fucking morons. They’re pitching this as hipster bugout shit. They’re inevitably the last people who are fit to assist with a bugout. That’s why they’re in the business: climate change is a justification to charge $1k a month to rent the Sprinter, too. $24k a year for a membership in a network of resorts that will, by their own declaration, likely be cut off from society during natural disasters.

None of these fuckers would last a week without a delivery truck.

****

An unmentioned but currently strong motivation for these pukes to get out of the city this year is the shutdown not of offices, but of entertainment amenities. The restaurants are closed, the nightclubs are closed, the theaters, the salons, in some places the malls. The usual servants have gone on plague furlough, so there’s less reason to live near them. Mob shakedown operations like UberEats and Instacart are still running, stronger than usual, but the business where one can go out to get waited on are mostly shuttered, at least in theory, and the shut-in tendencies in much of the hipster market are too strong to find the speakeasies. Besides, there’s all the overlap with the horny for rules crowd, who are being waited on AT HOME because it’s illegal to go out to the grocery store now, but not for the servants. One of the attractions of the van life horseshit is the insinuation that it doesn’t involve grocery shopping. I mean, my goodness, snacks are included!

If these cases wanted to live in the diversity of the actual cultures of New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or whatever, they wouldn’t conspire to steamroll it all for a bunch of cupcake shops and axe bars and drive the local workers who keep their shit running to the urban periphery. The reason the “conservatives” are on board with the “liberals” in these places in political matters pertaining to illegal immigration is that they’re their Mexicans, too. What they mean by multiculturalism is one or more cultures (other peoples’) doing the work to cater to another (their own).

I’m sufficiently in the loop in the Bay Area and the Acela Corridor to be sure I’m not particularly wrong about this. My current thoughts about living next to Mexicans on both sides are: 1) I will share Alta California on my own, and 2) get your shit off my car and go tailgate somewhere else. Fucken Gran Torino-ass setup to bequeath some neighborhood gangbanger my Focus, I guess; God bless America, pot of our melt.

Communal relations aside, an overproduction of restaurants always benefits from an exploitable labor pool. Without it, restaurant meals, nightclub tabs, and the like would cost more. There might be fewer of them available in the first place, at any price, as workers decide the gig is bullshit if it runs beyond twenty hours a week. It’s the same thing with the ridehailing apps. The parts about getting fired by the computer without recourse for service slightly below excellence and never paid enough to break even long-term runs drivers with other options off the platform and those without into debt. They’re in the auto loan business now because they pay their drivers too little to maintain their cars; no way that’ll go badly.

The point is that there’s less allure to this hip urban “culture” of being waited on because there’s less of it to be had, plus the rent’s due, it’s still stratospheric, and landlords are happy to squeeze their tenants to insolvency for a quick buck and then find new tenants upon their eviction. High-roller foreign dirty money is lately in vogue. (Of course, Donald Trump was laundering it decades ago, before it was even popular.) #VanLife allows hipster fuckheads to ditch their landlords, current and prospective, in a way that maintains at least the fiction of adequate housing and spares all present the awkward but crucial conversation about how landlords are bottomfeeding parasites in dire need of close official regulation.

That’s the trend. Millennial minimalism after Boomer/Gen X maximalism as a cultural phenomenon is a fig leaf. The minimalist fad is a cover for the bad acts of the real estate industry, which has been minimizing the supply of housing to goose everyone else’s costs. It’s the same thing as farmers dumping surplus grain or milk into the river in a time of urban hunger because spot prices are down.

Let’s do some minimalist eating while we’re at it, Mr. Joad. Let’s enjoy less more.

****

Don’t take that seriously, unless you’re broke or poor. Our restaurateurs want us to do maximal eating out. It’s good for business. Our business is their business, and that much I do mean. They’re on the news regularly to complain that the $600 weekly federal unemployment bonus is deterring their employees from coming back to work. The elected officials they buy are on the tube to back them up. We need to reopen the economy and get back to work.

There’s an extra lot of this condescending talk about the importance of work coming out of Georgia. The NewsHour had a lady on complaining about how last year had been a challenging year to open a brew pub in the Atlanta Metroplex. Separately, but not exactly, there was an item on Marketplace mentioning that business interruption insurance doesn’t usually cover communicable disease outbreaks. Maybe they could discuss the inadequacy of their insurance with their insurers or the authorities regulating them instead of discussing the workshyness of their help with us as a general public.

Is it better to work in a brew pub, or not to work at all? This strikes me as a question individuals with experientially informed opinions on working in brew pubs can easily answer for themselves, without employer assistance. The employers’ position, of course, is that here in Post-Soviet America, job takes and shoves YOU! We’ll all go soft and entitled and prefer to sit around the house and collect a government check instead of getting a job. This has been happening for decades under the disability benefits system, under claims for disabilities spanning the spectrum from the surmounted to the tenuous to the fabricated. This fraud is in fact a major reason why there isn’t fully systemic hunger while our food supply rots. Less starvation seems like a compelling indicator of a strong economy, but I’m sure I’m just a dumbass who doesn’t know how things work around here.

The help don’t wanna work in that lady’s brew pub no more. It’s odd: it’s considered unacceptable for employees to speak ill of their employers, or at least reckless, but good form for employers to call their employees lazy goldbrickers on a national television news broadcast. If I were foily, I’d attribute this to a function of who’s been loud and proud lately and getting away with it. Why is it only ever the weak who are expected to show manners? It says something that the owner of that brew pub thinks she’ll have a staff at all after going on the boob tube to mouth off like that. In a healthy economy, she’d be ruing the day she got booked: like, God, I’m the arrogant fool who went on TV to complain that I resent my own employees for accepting a third-party counteroffer.

We’re always lectured that these disputes are about the dignity and necessity of work, not about submitting to other people and being told what to do. There are circumstances when instructions from superiors are helpful: these rows are where the fruit is, this is how to pick it, etc. Or, on television, this is why the lazy, uncommitted punks who work for me need to grow up and come back to work at my brew pub.

Now I’m just a fucking loser who walks off farm jobs to get away from threats to my safety or welfare that interfere with the actual work, so disregard everything I have to say about what it takes to feed a country, but maybe this is an ill-advised summer to spend in a brew pub in Atlanta. We always hear hagiographies of small business owners making sacrifices, and often these are autohagiographies, the point being that their employees should be grateful to the Creators of their Jobs. Kid, if I weren’t busting my ass here every day there’d be no one here to tell you what to do, and fuck you for walking out and taking government money. They sure get sore and resentful and scandalized when the value of their gifts to their employees is diminished or erased.

Georgia, I believe, has a tipped minimum wage of $2.13. Get your ass in here to wait on tables, in case there are any. One thing we could do here is to suspend commercial evictions and give business owners the same UBI as employees until after the Ailment is passed. Mind you, that would be a civic leveler, perhaps not something the owners would enjoy. But for God’s sake nobody should be crowding into an alcohol-themed indoor restaurant in a world-leading hotspot for the transmission of an aggressive respiratory contagion.

Think about it. “Good God, I sacrifice everything for this restaurant. I put my blood, sweat, and tears on the line for this place. Why the hell will nobody help me? What gives you the right to pay them to stay home?” Did you really have to ask? This fucking thing transmits at its best indoors among crowds of loud drunks. It’s like a property owner asking why he can’t find help to put hundreds of pounds of equipment on a non-weight-bearing table in a confined workspace or to replace the cover boards on a septic tank without gloves. These are exactly the jobs a person reckless enough to attempt them should be left to do alone.

This is a season in which a brew pub in Georgia clears the threshold. “Hey, I need some help pirating electricity off that PG&E line over in that thicket of dry brush. I’m using this length of uninsulated copper wire. Hey! I said, get over here!” A responsible government with a runaway respiratory disease outbreak on its hands would shut that fucking brew pub down. It would withhold its authorization for the pub to operate and force any remaining pub business underground, into speakeasies either smaller, less numerous, or both.

One thing I’ll take away from this, our plaguetime, will be the renewed and hardened conviction that anyone considering it right and good for other people to have to work at her brew pub to survive deserves neither her employees nor her brew pub. Some of these fuckers make me ashamed to eat at restaurants at all.

Trump derangement diaries

For the record, I do not give one single shit that Donald Trump posted a tweet about “he and his family,” in the accusative of John Lewis, or that he’s beefing on Anthony Fauci again because he’s a messy bitch from Queens who lives for drama, in this case by owning the libs. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been mugged. I’ve been cornered, stalked, harassed, and very nearly murdered by police officers. The President is saying insulting but laughably stupid things about the most popular and trusted medical doctor in the country today? That’s fascinating.

Jesus.

Trump is terrible. Hillary Clinton is, like her husband, terrible. Barack Obama was a terrible president. Every president who has to date served in my lifetime, since Reagan, has been a moral brute or an outright sociopath. We gaslit some folks. Our next president, Joseph Rubbinatte Bottom, will be a walking atrocity. God willing he’ll be an improvement over the current Oaf of Office. The problem is that he’s slick. Trump mouths his own mask straight off every day. Biden pretends to be plainspoken and off-the-cuff. It’s a gambit to make himself sound genuine and not coldly calculating. It works on Boomers, I guess. The old bigot is still trying to keep the ganja snacks scheduled for the same reason he pushed the upscheduling of crack cocaine, which he still avuncularly distinguishes from the acceptable kind of cocaine used in reputable neighborhoods. This was the line in the sand his aides refused to cross in their team of rivals conclave with the Berniecrats: not throwing decent people into hell on earth prisons over drugs. He loves cops.

Biden aspires, more than Trump, to be the Dungeonmaster General of the United States. The Rod has duly been spared. The Honorable Rod R. Blagojevich flew home to Chicago with 40,892.424 reasons to give thanks  to God, Country, and Thick Moist President. The Donald is frittering away the political capital he has built up with his occasional pardons and commutations, just as he’s blowing the advantage he established with the one-time infusion of Trumpbucks. I really don’t understand how or why he’s lost his keen read of the national mood.

I guess the Biden campaign reembrained their man by taking him off the drugs over the last few months, too. Neither of them looks senile now. It’s bizarre. We continue our pilgrim journey through the gaslight.

Biden is going to win. Trump and his lieutenants have become so outrageously aggressive and detached from the socioeconomic circumstances of the public that they’re sunk without a prompt course correction, which seems less likely by the week. The PMC liberal hive mind is still overheating. God. They’re all detached, too. Same substance as Trump, just a different style. Why the fuck would I trust Nancy Pelosi not to hate the poor? Why would I trust her not to be sneering at #MeToo for being downwardly mobile and uppity? Why would I trust a used car salesman-ass shithead like Joe Biden? These fuckers need to be intimidated and humiliated back until they come to our heel. They need to heed our commands, not us theirs. I don’t owe Joe Biden my vote; he owes me bona fide constituent services upon his election. That means not screwing me or anyone else over just to be a thug and a crook. That means actually putting the police on their fucking leash, for the first time in his life.

Again, God willing. Lama sabachthana?

Eh, at least I feel better now for having published this shit. This Poast is the Inauguration of Joe Biden, too Me.

Yeah, da Red Lawbsta! Da one off Ass NL!

Back in the old neighborhood, where all shall in due course of time be eatin’ good, there was a shouting match turned fistfight over slow service and a refund demand at the Red Lobster in York. One of my best friends lives in York, but not exactly, and in the course of my semiannual to quarterly visits I often stop by the Panera just up East Market–Downeast Mackit–from the Red Lobster, both of which are also in York, but not exactly.

This may sound pedantic or nitpicky, but it is entirely germane. “York” is an exceptionally sloppy synecdoche. York City is a tightly ringfenced inner city, with tiny pockets of affluence (deep downtown; the last few blocks of East Market before the Interstate 83 bypass and the Springettsbury Township line), but otherwise a racially diversified but powerfully class-stratified ghetto/barrio/all-purpose slumscape with terrible housing stock  and one of the perennially lowest-testing public school districts in the Pennsylvania we never should even have tried to find. Commonwealth or our own personal wealth, standardized test scores say jack fucking shit about what the students taking them are actually learning, but they’re a serviceable proxy for test prep resources, which are again the most retarded thing ever–you really might as well grab a hot dog at the Special Olympics concessions or Bear River Pump-n-Play–but are the kind of US News & World Report-ass horseshit that the normies believe, and the normies vote.

The credible external proxies of student performance in York City are predictably horrible for a district that doesn’t even cheat its way into excellence under the Atlanta Standard. An east-west transect on Market and Philadelphia or north-south transect on George yields a few reasonably prosperous blocks and dozens of blocks that scream food desert and lead poisoning.

In shorthand, it’s a sacrifice zone. The semispeakable stipulation of the fixation on test scores in a ringfenced district like the YCSD is that staying in school will help graduates move up and out. I don’t plan to check whether the Red Lobster offers its employees free Rabbit Transit passes or expects them to have diplomas if they’re of age. The only reason I ever looked up the location of the “York” Red Lobster (moron this shortly) was for excellence in shitposting. I must have seen it dozens of times, but I never took note. #NoRegrets.

It’s absolutely mad to cling to the debased Clintonian version of the GI Bill education ethic in a purposely hollowed-out postindustrial shithole surrounding a Gentry Village amusement park downtown four decades after the big late-postwar push to bust the unions and a quarter century into the NAFTA era. We used eminent domain to clear the last of the Mohicans out of one of the inner-city slums for an urban renewal minor league ballpark across a set of disused railroad tracks from the Greyhound depot, and the Doghouse is diagonally across downtown from the transit center, but at least we’ve got an economy again.

Yeah, sure. Hate to break it to yous, but the suburban kids who grew up without the nutritional deficiencies and chronic domestic chaos and lead poisoning have a leg up on the neighborhood homies for the server jobs on near North George. Is that a problem? Nonrhetorical question; answers optional. Remember, Fat Cracka is allergic to tests. (Mostly.) It’s the same deal as Inner Harbor, only more so: the most diligent westside normies can get jobs serving crab meals to racist assholes from Bel Air, so Baltimore must be doing all right. Freddy Gray, please report to a White People Courtesy Telephone.

If we try to collate a granular, accurate survey of who exactly is involved in the restaurant business as lenders, beneficial owners, managers, and line employees, plus who’s theoretically involved but oddly unemployed with no real prospect of getting hired, we start to see an image very different from the official story we hear on WGAL. /Sturdily local on-air voice/ Reporting from York, same putz my ex-wife always said I was, I’m Ed Whinestock. Back to you, Kim.

That’s a Township grad right there. Kim, that is; I know enough about Ed already.  I have it on solid authority that Jack Hubley is a class act but Kim Lemon is a sneering piece of shit. Pennsylvania has, as a thick moist New Yorker might say, many such townships, but Manheim Township is generally reputed to be one of Lancaster County’s better public school districts. Again, this is meaningless, and if you can’t afford K-12 tuition you need to immediately check with Rod Dreher for Benedict Option homeschooling curricula; just because Rod’s a bit of a poseur about his own shtick doesn’t mean you have to be one, too. Since we’re off and on the subject, I should probably mention that I’ve helped out with plaguetime homeschooling activities on visits to /Borat Voice/ my part-time wife, allowing me to say from personal experience that even if the curriculum is retarded, there’s no need to involve a teacher who may also be.

Kim, tho. I was enrolled at schools within forty miles of Harrisburg from fourth grade through fancy boy college. Ever since my parents and I left Palo Alto in 1992, and no, not the dump up by Pottsville, I’ve had an ear to the ground, sometimes consistently, sometimes intermittently, with locals ranging from piss-poor ghettoside juvenile delinquents with homemade Mercedes hood ornament necklaces to rednecks who knew to look for turkey under white oaks to farmers and factory workers to restaurateurs to doctors and nurses to C-List and A-List regional industrialists. It didn’t particularly surprise me to learn that Kim Lemon is a bitch, or that Jack Hubley is a mensch, although when I heard the latter it was the first time I’d thought of him in years and it took me a second to place him. Lemon is somebody I don’t usually feel compelled to contemplate. At least Weinstock is fun, a fellow we can all laugh at for never laughing at or with a thing. Lemon is roughly as self-serious, but even when she puts on a sunny, lighthearted act, she doesn’t quite have what it takes.

There seems to be some, shall we say, sociology explaining why Kim Lemon hasn’t left town. Local distances in the area between the Blue Ridge, the Delaware, and the Mason-Dixon Line have become deceptively short for me since I’ve moved back west, so I looked up directions from Manheim Township High School to the WGAL studio, and if we cut the crap about Blue Detours, Red Detours, and other, more colorless detours, she works seven miles from her high school alma mater. So if it isn’t just a set of one-off interpersonal reactions that has the same person who loved chatting with Saturday Morning Critter Friend convinced that Kim’s trash, and I doubt it is, she’s alienated plenty of her neighbors. Lancaster has a metropolitan population of over a hundred thousand and a densely populated quasirural agricultural hinterland with hundreds of thousands more, but Kim Lemon is one of its most prominent public citizens. She’s been on air on WGAL forever. It should be a liability for her to be known around town as an incorrigible fucking bitch.

It should have been a liability for Diddlin’ Dennis to’ve done what J. Denny Dundiddly done. It took a while for the old boy’s wrestling days to catch up with him and pin him down for a spell in Minnesota, in a home full of companions on the prairie. On the plus side, at least they’re men, same thing Larry Craig might want to point out about David Karsnia. It’s called a MEN’S ROOM. Kim Lemon, by contrast, is apparently just a huge asshole, and America has basically no idea of how to police verbal antisocial aggression if it isn’t Clarence Thomas smutty. Plus she’s on the tube. The average on-air television and radio personality is manifestly batshit insane, and not all Wesley Willis-like Jim Sim told me to stop yelling again, either. They don’t allow themselves that much insight into their own condition. The prevalence of visible, audible, severe substance abuse, personality, and mood disorders among broadcast hosts and reporters is stratospheric. The business mostly just accepts their maladjustment and bad behavior. There’s a mythology around the old-school newspapermen (and women!), that they were all abrasive, moody drunks; the current crop of sellouts at Sinclair, who have the same personal problems but suck all ass at their jobs, inevitably seize on the old guard’s mythology and steal their repute for themselves.

There’s a broader point that I was starting to make about small towns and the reputational risks of being antisocial within them, as their community members. These risks are pretty negligible. The privileges that attached to Harvey Weinstein easily attached to Dennis Hastert. No homo, he was just the wrestling coach. He just took an interest in the development of boys who took an interest in grabass rolling around on the floor with other boys. Good God, at least Gateside Downlow is some kind of rancher. Like, Coach is having his usual straight one, but look, I’m not gay, but Coach is always trying to get it from me for free, like he doesn’t have $20. Adolescent and, God help us, children’s athletic programs are replete with perverts who use them as grooming grounds, as Lawrence of the Labia showed through his career of all-ages medical interest in young women, a constituency also cherished by one Brett Michael Kavanaugh.

Kim doesn’t even have to specifically intimidate or mutually blackmail anyone in Lancaster County to keep getting her way. She’s set. But what’s the point to staying in school, then? Why study so hard and chase grades? Is it to grow up to be like her, with money and fame but no class?

Duh. Of course it is! This is the point of school rankings and district rankings and “good neighborhoods” with “good schools” and the SAT and the ACT and all the new state- and federally-mandated standardized assessments of proficiency in the core curriculum and whatever the fuck else we’re calling education. The normies can’t imagine another way to claim a survivable place in the pecking order. It’s certainly also a convenient way for suburbanites to blame the local poor, rundown urban core for its socioeconomic problems. We’re ranking every school district in the state in a way that will inevitably leave one of them at the hard bottom, probably one that’s poorly funded and has a hollowed-out tax base, but gosh, they must just not study hard enough or know how to teach. We put everybody in the schools and most of the workforce under an additional cognitive load for trying to comply with the dead weight of the assessments, but we scheme to have better guidance counselors at our own kids’ schools and less lead in the water.

Maybe our national cognitive load can help explain why so many voters and officials drive through sacrifice zones like York City and conclude that the point of failure was the schools.

York City is ringfenced even harder than I realized until I looked closely at a map of the city limits for this poast. I’d mistakenly assumed that the fancy swath of the south side from Reservoir Park to the Country Club was within the city limits. It is not. The hospital campus is mostly but not entirely within the city limits.

So of course the Red Lobster isn’t actually in York. It’s in Springettsbury Township. Yes, I’m fully aware that York is a county, too. It doesn’t matter. As I wrote near the start, “York” is a terrible synecdoche. It’s almost inevitably misleading. So much of the urban squalor, poverty, and dysfunction have been redlined in, and so much of the prosperity and stability redlined out, that the city-township distinctions are crucial. The York Fair isn’t even in York, and it’s right across Carlisle Avenue from a really shitty part of town that is. The municipal redlining is extreme. The shape of York City is gerrymandered in ways that have no real relationship to the lay of the land or the extent of the cityscape. Nobody in Springettsbury was ever about to let the city annex Memory Lane; plenty for it to chew on on its side of 83.

Yes, “York” does have a Memory Lane. This might explain some things. Do you remember those days hangin’ out in our engineer boots at the Panera, Sarah? We couldn’t wait for graduation day, whoa-oh-oh/ we took the car and went to Endless Shrimp. Red Lobster is just east of Memory Lane. This has to be an exceptionally bad Hemingway novel. Look, we’ve got values out here. Mostly property values. We aren’t letting the city get ahold of that joint for its tax base.

This is something the driveling press corps idiots who enthuse about “Panera Democrats” will never tell you, so I will: When we hear about how yokels in Erie or Youngstown or Cincinnati or Pittsburgh love them some Trump and some Applebee’s, the reporters don’t know that what they really mean are residents of white flight suburbs unheard of three or four counties away. They dredge up miserable geezers from diner booths in Erie City to piss and moan about the Mexicans and whatever, omitting that Erie County, not just the city, voted for Hillary Clinton.

That’s most of who needs to eat at Red Lobster right now: low-key affluent suburbanites. The famous schlocky chain restaurants aren’t all that cheap. I had a plate of Boston Garden takeout once, and it was terrible. Olive Garden looks shitty, so I have no intention of making that pilgrimage. I’m not sure that I haven’t even been to Red Lobster, but I can’t recall going to one, and that shit is definitively not on the agenda. Even Panera, which is fast-casual and openly tip-optional–many of its stores didn’t have tip jars at all until a few years ago–is pretty expensive. The path to a Democratic House majority doesn’t run through the Panera lobbies of the country’s swing-seat suburbs, but the path to the $4.99 full-sandwich steak and white cheddar meal deal does. My bad: it absolutely does not, because I just made that up. They’re never giving that shit away so cheap lol fml.

If we expand York to include its tax base, there’s no way Red Lobster is the best restaurant in York. It’s subjective, but it’s not that subjective. I’ve eaten at restaurants in the area that have to be better. There’s no need to do an in-depth survey of the Darden properties to know that a lot of these chains suck. I eat at Applebee’s from time to time: all right, but definitely overpriced. Any chain airing nationally syndicated ads that show breadsticks or battered shrimp cascading out of one basket into another is not the best in class for what it serves. When you’re here, you’re family, and what we do with family is tell them to meet us in the walk-in freezer for a talking-to and a little something-something if they’ve filled out nicely. Huh. Do the Italians do that, or is it just the Scots? Perhaps I’m mistaken and Red Lobster is not in fact based in Maine.

There’s a lot of idiotic, culturally dysfunctional liberal guilt around pointing out that flyover country has its abusive elites even if it doesn’t have Chez Panisse. The entire dynamic is much too consider, but the great normcore chain sitdown restaurants aren’t workingmen’s pubs just because they’re less expensive than Ruth’s Chris, and they aren’t necessarily any good just because they’re more expensive than a decent Greek diner run by passably normal people. It’s possible for a restaurant to be pricey AND shitty. There are millionaires who eat at fucking Boston Market. I’m absolutely serious. I personally know at least two.

Lambert Strether commented that the York (“York”) Red Lobster incident showed that the customers at the schlocky theme chains visit not to eat, but to be served. It’s heartbreaking if you think about it too deeply. Is this what we’re doing in lieu of therapy? Is this what we’re doing IN ADDITION TO therapy? It’s pretty accurate to say that Trump’s base is provincial exurbanites who are self-actualized by yelling at waitresses in chain restaurants and docking their tips. I wish that were a gross simplification. Dad’s out running the family dealership, mom’s out getting Jeanine Pirro trashed at Applebee’s and screaming at the waitress that she’s a stupid tramp: ain’t that America.

The grotesque media models guiding and explaining these wretches have been on the scene for decades. Rush Limbaugh never seems to find his anger assuaged. Fox News is larded with angry drunkards and pill-poppers. Enough is never enough. They are never materially satisfied, and they are never socially satisfied. The positional authority that they so abusively wield over others as customers or bosses never makes them whole. They are, however, angrier than usual to be denied their birthright to verbally abuse waitstaff for $2.13 an hour, tips optional. This is why we must reopen “the economy.”

It’s hard to see what can be done for them. What can be done to them is to raise their marginal rates to level the field so that the poor aren’t forced to degrade themselves for abusive managers and abusive customers at restaurants that might well make this country better–perhaps even great again–by ceasing to operate. Red Lobster is not an essential sector of the economy. It won’t kill the miserable assholes who start shit at crappy chain restaurants because the service is too slow to go be miserable at home with some lobster from Giant. Or maybe it will, although they’ll probably just Boomerpost their way to sleep about it on Facebook. Some of them are pretty far gone psychically. We can’t just sit around waiting for the day to come when God will dry every eye. That won’t fix them on a timescale that spares their waitresses their corrosive abuse.

The dim sum place by the freeway is open for takeout again. Maybe I’ll walk over and get some hom su gok.

They do nothing but ask for money

For a society so insistent on self-reliance and so hostile towards dependency, America sure fucking does a lot of fundraising. It’s constant. GoFundMe is a national fixture. Think about the name for a second. GoFundMe. It’s the next thing to the Dunkin’ Doorman’s employer, Gobias Industries. Feel free to Gobias some hashbrowns, too. That’s our health insurer of last resort: a major-league skimming operation slicing a thick cut off the top of every poor bastard’s fundraiser for emergency cancer treatment, co-owned by a scumbag who uses his prominent normie liberal podcast to do his own affiliate marketing in the name of “policy,” i.e., by weaseling the nation away from the policy disaster for his bottom line of universal single payer.

We have our own children run lemonade stands. We have them sell Girl Scout cookies, Boy Scout wreathes, Trail’s End popcorn (big yuck from me, fam), donuts: an endless variety of shit that, other than the Lenten Easter cookies (Main Line girls meet Mormon boys), the customers don’t particularly want. It’s supposed to teach the little ones about budgeting and the work ethic and shit. Oh? Net income per hour fluctuating over and under the minimum wage with, who knows, 25-125% overhead, bothering strangers to buy shit, and this is supposed to be a good idea? This isn’t an object lesson in not signing up for Amway?

Cool. Normal, fully functional country. I’m definitely not wasting my time by not attending a series of committee meetings to organize my trips to go canning and see if there aren’t some coins in the fountain at the shopping center.

Tocqueville is teabagging us again. We just have to replicate a dizzying variety of basic services that any proper government would preemptively provide, knowing that it would have hell to pay with its constituents for failing. We have school tax streams AND school bake sales. We send our kids out to sell horseshit knickknacks or pizza or hold car washes to raise money for band trips, and then we pack them off to band practices at five in the morning. What in all hell is wrong with us? Like, maybe the clue about their work ethic and dedication is that they get their asses out of bed in time to muster with their trombones at 0500 and then sit through a full day of academic classes, all so they can pep up the football meatheads and their fans? Guess they won’t learn the value of teamwork and time management just from being in a marching band. Obviously their parents couldn’t just give them a ten spot or a Jackson and leave them to discover how far it goes on iced tea tallboys versus Top Ramen versus Burger King versus bong-ass schwag. Hey kid, take all the bottles you want out of the bin and haul them down to the machine at the Meijer, to stack that cash.

There are, alas, those who lack the time or the energy or the organizational skills to do the good Tocquevillean shit in person, but they’re covered, too. If you can’t personally do the organizational work, just go fly a sign. Why else do we have GoFundMe?

This servile dysfunction come to mind for me often, sometimes without a noticeable prompt, but in this case it’s because KQED is at it again, and it isn’t even fund drive season. At least, I don’t think it is: as they say themselves once or twice an hour, these are uncertain times.

Their current call to action, that action being alms, is a claim that some bullshit charity I’ve never before heard of–that is, not one of the dozens that are immediately recognizable as vague sources of undisclosed amounts of money to fund something or other at NPR or PBS–is offering a $100,000 challenge grant. They’re always thanking the Dorsey Foundation to Jack Reed Hoff, Man or whatever the hell for supporting “member-supported” public media.

This time it’s some new outfit that’s the same as all the others: gifts in, gifts out, grifts on the side. From time to time the names of these dumbass foundations float through my mind like so many turds in the bowl, along with the shitty corporate muzak they play for the commercials, or maybe we’re calling them sponsor appreciation, on the NewsHour, shards of trivia dislodged from the lives of people whose names I know exclusively because they got attached to money that gets sent to PBS. That is literally all I know about them. Jack can’t cook but he remembers Zabiullah Tamana or God fucking knows what the hell any of this shit is supposed to do. It’s actually Jack Kent Cook and Kendeda, I think, because I’ve inevitably cluttered up hard drive space with free-floating bits of this crap, too.

Gloria in excelsis, they’ve got yet another charitable foundation lined up now to dribble out a piss-ass little bit of money to KQED, but only if listeners match it, but only if the foundation doesn’t take its financial inducement back when ritually offered it, as stipulated in its contract with the station, in which case it might not be able to disburse the funds so as to offset its own tax liabilities. It’s like the time the Cafua Family Irrevocable Trust, among other donut outfits, went to Buffalo to get sued by the Benderson Family 1968 Trust. I’ve heard of this because I looked into a Dunkin’ on Western Avenue in Albany that was hiring over the winter. We inevitably have too few lawyers and too many lawyers, at the same time and in the same country. It’s impossible to get a competent capital defender if you aren’t OJ, but you’re in some good-ass luck if you go around beefing with other families’ trusts and trying to tear down the church where everybody’s grandparents got baptized and married because your donut empire absolutely needs another location in Pittsfield, right there and right now.

It isn’t ordinary kids or adults or elders who don’t know the value of a dollar. Some fucked-up outliers show up from time to time, entirely clueless, but the average individual has a more or less rough idea of how much it costs to get, like, a Quarter Pounder meal or an A&F T-shirt. They may not be good with money, but they’re somewhere in the ballpark for amounts of money that they regularly spend. That’s the easy part. Try to explain any of this to Congress. Amtrak wasted $1b out of the $40b that Lockheed-Martin and Fat Leonard’s companies assuredly would have stewarded with utmost prudence and care. We can’t afford food stamps but we can afford to get our asses kicked for setting Iraq on fire.

It’s in exactly this spirit that KQED is prostrating itself before a two-bit charity for a grant that, even if doubled, will pay for the compensation packages of one or two of its reporters, if not less than one. That isn’t a cheap business. It takes money to hire a reporter who isn’t just a talking sack of potatoes in a suit. Scott Schafer has been on the job forever, and he’s pretty good at it. Does he sound like he grosses $50k with no benefits to work at a major radio station in San Francisco? Get outta here. They got him to narrate one of their degraded pitches for listener support to trigger that dumbass challenge grant anyway. They’re either bullshitting or outright lying about the conditions of the grant, but the assholes upstairs don’t care.

Does Scott have more pressing things to do with his time than voice work for a one-off fundraising project that might more or less cover his salary? That’s the wrong question. He’s just the help. We’re failing to ask why the cunts who run NPR would ever care.

KQED airs some dogshit programs from the mother ship and produces some of its own, but in the meantime it does some fine, important, timely work. Its executives and development officials still expect the reporters and hosts who, you know, actually keep the front of the house from going dead silent to help them grovel before an obscure, superfluous family charity for chump change.

They say they’re doing this to meet the spring pledge drive goals in advance. Cool: take your medicine now and get it over with, or wait to take it later, with /crooning Carly Simon voice/ anticipation. By medicine, we mean giving us money, bitch. Duh. Again, this is jack shit for a radio station budget, but did Americans suddenly learn how to do rough mental arithmetic using factors of ten? Of course we fucking didn’t. Wow Much orders Such magnitude. Very confuse. Wow. Is KQED more expensive than a Safeway run? Is a cow pie bigger than the offerings in your cat’s litterbox? Is a 747 bigger than my Focus? Who knows? KQED might cost more than a tank of low-test gas, but if you think about it, or don’t, $100,000 or $200,000 in a 100% liquid discretionary fund available for thicky tricks or Amtrak fare or lunch at Adel’s once the Dread Ailment passes or a Chinese buffet run with a thicky trick (Is that still a good conservative institution, del Mastro? She’s an American, but is she a Conservative?) would be a nice little kitty, as he said. It’d be, like, a lot of money.

Hey, it’s just another institutional cancer, living its cancerous lifestyle, chasing its bliss. Father is grateful for the $10k endowment available for the parish’s K-8 school not in spite of the endowment’s capacity to yield gas money for the school van, but because of it. Dickinson College is insatiable at $500m because its endowment goes on playdates with Swarthmore’s. Harvard? Dear God. Just fucking expropriate it. Just remember: the NewsHour doesn’t air commercials for Consumer Cellular, Raymond James, and BNSF; those are, uh, benefactor appreciations, or messages from our sponsors, or, you know, they don’t exactly offer a name for the things. They demur.

Ye cannae imagine why, love.

If you give a bum a ten spot he might blow it on Olde English. We can’t do that. Spending charitable grants on malt liquor is too sensible.

Education special

Back in the late aughts there was a great deal of excited chatter about the MOOC. The massive online open course was basically a 100-level auditorium lecture, but free at the point of service, and on the computer. This fad coincided with the Second Great Depression, a global financial crash, deliberately mislabeled as a recession for propaganda purposes, which had nothing to do with education and everything to do with terrible elite immorality and incompetence. The crash was precipitated by college boys and girls, many of them with degrees in the liberal arts, who were utterly ignorant of the Great Depression. It was proof positive of a collossal international fuckup spanning much of the Global North, and it was strong evidence that education had nothing to do with education, either.

In any event, a bunch of proles looking for the big new thing and the grifters pandering to them salivated at the prospect of a free, zero-barrier college education, spurred by pangs of fear that higher education was becoming completely unaffordable. In truth, it wasn’t college that was unaffordable. What was unaffordable was allowing rich cokeheads off the leash and into positions of financial authority and power. Telling these shysters to drop out of the workforce already and devote themselves full-time to their drugs was too forward–this is America–so they reinvented a mashup of the mail-order audio lecture on the Great Books and the homecoming roundtable.

Detective Munch once took a coffee appreciation course at the Learning Annex; I once listened to George Schultz tell a one-liner joke, as the audience consensus construed it, about how Stanford was practically a subsidiary of corporate high technology. The farthest I ever got with the NYPD was the civil service exam, which was a lot more normal than the officers administering it. Some of us pass the test, for what that’s worth. One of the tests Munch passed had to do with judgment in class enrollment, and our lateral transfer from Balimore had it.

The NYPD doesn’t take lateral transfers, and dear God, Carisi, it doesn’t do 5150’s. If you want to really get your brain into a twist, consider this: Peter Scanavino is from Denver. There’s no need to sit for the exam to know any of this, just the intellectual curiosity of the hardcore barrio-bred cashier at the Steak-n-Shake in Fogelsville who’s jazzed up to talk shop across the counter because “I think they’ve got one in Ohio, too!” They don’t teach this in college. They do teach how to lose all critical thinking ability and then brag to classmates about how one’s alma mater, tried and true and all that other plagiarized pomp and circumstance and shit, taught the critical thinking needed to succeed. It’s fucking baffling. They’re always saying shit like, I didn’t learn how to write until I came to Dickinson. Da fuq? You still can’t.

Some of the more idealistic cynics, like Twitter’s Haircut_Hippie, argue that most people shouldn’t even try. This isn’t a terrible idea. There’s not nearly enough time to read the good writing, so it would be a blessing and a mercy not to weigh it down with piles of shit. It occurs to me, though, that it’s easier to write well about things one finds interesting and germane than it is to respond coherently and artfully to pointless, excruciatingly boring academic prompts. Those of us of a certain class (or theoretically so lol) are expected to jump through these hoops on command under the same defined-period, outrageously expensive institutional auspices where we’re encouraged to cultivate our friends, lovers, spouses, cronies, cult handlers, lives of the mind, purposes in life, and various other good things presumably never again to be so vigorously catalyzed in our lives, but don’t let your GPA drop, kid.

We pay for this? We actually PAY for this? Christ.

As another new decade looms, the Groaning Twenties, we brave the Dread Ailment. Circumstances force us to take our instruction alone and from afar. It’s a beautiful new frontier in learning, a ramshackle, spur-of-the-moment MOOC costing upwards of a hundred dollars a day. The institutions converting so abruptly to this format inevitably include the same ones that don’t advertise their discount fares or offer them without copious paperwork, but which atone by constantly pestering the “members” of their “communities” for tithes and offerings. Ed Burmila is right: the professors are now pretending to instruct, the students are pretending to study, and the schools are not at all pretending to collect tuition.

They don’t news this about, but the big cheeses in Silicon Valley send their children to select, expensive private schools strategically stripped of superfluous advanced gadgets. Technology for thee, but not for me. It’s pretty basic: if you’re slinging crack, you don’t wanna get addicted to crack. I assume they aren’t being told to bushwhack through barely operable computer portals to facilitate their own children’s education, already paid for under contractual terms stipulating in-person professional instruction. /Borat Voice/ My part-time wife is doing exactly this, and guys, this shit is not working. It just isn’t. I believe I could put together a serviceable curriculum in the time she’s spent navigating the portal for her kid’s school and troubleshooting it for other parents. They’re supposed to have fucking staff for this shit. One way or another we’re paying property taxes. Instead they’re dumping batteries of unaided, spottily funded mandates onto individual parents. I completed much of my own schooling before all this gee-whiz Flinstones electronic nonsense, so I know for a fact that there’s no reason they can’t just ship out the books and the assignment packets.

My bad: there’s no operational reason. Profits are being realized. Those realizing them have children enrolled in low-tech Montessori and Waldorf schools tucked away discreetly up the hill from the Bayshore.

Once again I’m all for parents Benedict Optioning their kids out of this pointless mess. They may receive deficient instruction or not learn much from their bespoke homeschooling curricula, but at least they’ll flounder intellectually in ways less aggravating and exhausting for their parents, and as we all know, brick-and-mortar schools are renowned for the spotless absence of academic, social, and behavioral difficulties on the part of their students. The commission here is, we might say, not so great: if you’re down for it, go for it. There’s nothing stopping you if you’ve got the gumption to tell the school board to get fucked. Besides, if you’re reading any of this, I Men’s Warehouse guarantee you that you will not be one of the bad homeschooling parent-instructors.

It seems we’ve got a lot of kids stewing at home this spring and learning jack shit. It’s like school that way, minus the congregate setting. Lose me with the moral panics. Fat Cracka don’t care. My great-aunt, the one who graduated from the eighth grade at the age of 22, received gracious and patient tutoring in astronomy from Staten Island’s premier autodicact, for what John Dennis Diddly that was worth. Some will win, some will lose, some are born to tell the fellow to take the telescope and shove it up his ass. Is astronomy gay? I’m agnostic, but have you tried wrestling? It’s the straightest thing in the Basin if Sunny 107 doesn’t have John Tesh on to talk about traction alopecia from man buns and spin One Direction records.

#IFYL, #TeshTips is a #BigBandStyle disaster, it’s capitalism, and it’s a low-key form of disaster capitalism. Who the fuck would give a shit about that bollocks in a healthy, prosperous, stable society? “Goodness, I only listen for the music.” Music notably excluding Johnny Paycheck, from what I’ve heard. That doofus should be off dropping crank to fuel a ten-piece swing set and dicking MILF groupies, not telling America how to get a job and keep it.

Our Radio Guylander, however, is just an example of the chronic minor inflammation afflicting the body politic. The good shit is landing as we speak. Betsy DeVos is not one to pass up an opportunity to trash stable, functional institutions and their prosperous unionized employees in order to make way for the latest gee-whiz scab racket. The same goofoffs who can’t pay attention to their teachers for two minutes when they’re in the same classroom are totally going to learn and thrive through this new paradigm remote instructional module, because innovation. Her beloved charter schools selectively divert students from their home districts into standalone siloes, the kind of joints where a bumptious thirty-year-old with a TfA stint under her belt and a master’s diploma on the wall is the principal, in the same fashion that the Union Army handed out lieutenants’ commissions to college boys like so many pieces of candy.

Resin up the bow to play the Ken Burns Fiddle Serenade for THAT. Since we’re already shunting kids into dodgy alternative schools, some of them extremely dodgy, and letting their owners operate them as slush funds, why not remove the teachers? Why not set up an understaffed Rube Goldberg portal for office hours and call it instruction? If this were about learning, we’d have public librarians draw up some recommended reading lists and hold down the fort at the desk to counsel those still confused.

But that was never the point. They’re just riding the grift horse again.

The last thing the DeVoses need is more money, so of course this whole thing is a scam designed to enrich them above all else. Hire bargain-basement IT dipshits to run the kludgefest, hire exhausted adjuncts who sleep in their cars to do any teaching (and there doesn’t have to be), set up the chief aides and other cronies with their windfalls, and personally make mad bank. Do welcome the money and the cash. That ass-ugly mansion on the outskirts of Grand Rapids doesn’t pay for itself.

What many liberals get wrong about Betsy DeVos is that she knows nothing about education. The awful truth of it is that she knows a fair bit about education and is passionate about it. Specifically, she’s passionate about all the same dogshit-stupid talking points the most hopeless Republican normies enthusiastically snort straight up their piggy snouts. An apathetic ignoramus would allow institutional inertia to keep the Department of Education going where it’s going, asleep on the bridge of that garbage barge sailing down the Cuyahoga River. DeVos knows what she’s doing. She used to tutor in the public schools in Grand Rapids. Already a billionaire, she took a normally obscure cabinet job at the upper end of the civil service pay scale, a penny-ante gig per se for a woman of her wealth and power. Of course, the salary in these jobs is just a fringe benefit; everybody knows the real money is extrinsic to the earnest Jimmy Stewart on the Hill shit.

The way that woman and her family think society should be run is absolutely fucking insane. DeVos occasionally spirited her most promising tutoring mentees out of the public schools and into the Dutch Reform private system, Ragged Dick-style, but she demanded that they work for it, not just academically, but by cleaning her mansion. Cross-referenced with the bizarre death drive of the hardline Calvinist worldview, it checks out that she’d consider it adequate educational policy to have poor students arbitrarily transferred from the general public school track onto the Christian prep school track just because they happened to have been assigned to her as mentees, and that it’s reasonable to indenture them and their mothers to her as superfluous domestics. It happened, so God knew about it, and God knew about it, so God willed it. The whole thing is a gullible dimwit’s book report on Candide, unfolding in real time with real schoolchildren.

The uncomfortable question that always arises in the aftermath of these gifted student teleportations is what the hell is to be done with or for those Left Behind (TM). We’ve been doing No Child Left Behind (TM) standardized testing for close to two decades now, and the results are still the same: not all children are above average. This produces the scandalous circumstance of certain school districts being ranked at the bottom of the rankings. How could they let that happen? The superintendent knew they were going to be ranked! Shockingly, some teachers in troubled districts help their students cheat on the ranking and proficiency exams: same thing the cool kids do in Corona Del Mar, just for the general and vo-tech tracks, the losers who’ve never heard of “reach” and “safety” schools. Robert Sanchez should reach for the emergency brake right now and stop this train in the interest of passenger and crew safety.

What? Was that a stupid thing to repeat? Compared to what? Dipshits who are stunned that the same districts in an increasingly immobile and sclerotic society keep performing at the bottom on tests that are specifically designed to rank districts? Goodness, how does this do-or-die competition keep producing losers?

In Pennsylvania, a perennial contender for last place is the York City School District. 501st out of 501. They’re all supposed to be above-average. Why isn’t is above-average? I take a quick sober look around town and can say exactly why. They ring-fenced the Great Migration ghettosiders, the Boricuas, and the Great Value Crackers into the municipality with the lead paint instead of the tax bases, where their kids are raised in chaotic homes without enough food. Groovy shit. Somehow this yields lower standardized test scores than Dover and CB East. How bow dah, Bregoli.

I’ve got the answers. This isn’t a great mystery. But how the fuck do I explain it to property-owning normies? They ask questions they don’t want answered, and the questions are retarded, so the answers are also retarded. The proximal fixes are pretty straightforward: beef up funding and instruction for YCSD and eliminate the tests. You know, do shit instead of constantly measuring it and talking about it. Come to understand, somehow, that some teams don’t make it to the Super Bowl.

The distal solutions aren’t so hard, either: make it so it isn’t the end of the world if a kid is a late bloomer, a jagoff, or just real slow. They’ve still got HACC and Millersville, right? Except maybe they’ll take fewer reverse-commute shifts at Panera if the rules of the game are relaxed. Who knows if it’s good, or if it’s wack? We might have to wait another five or ten for an overpriced bougie sammich because the training and management in the back of the house are as appalling as the clip art on the walls in the front. We might have to go home and make our own really shitty French onion soup. When we hear boosters earnestly saying that Inner Harbor and Camden Yards are the economic engines of Baltimore, it starts to seem like there’s no good reason to stay in school, or at least to do anything there but socialize. Either you’re part of the big club and you ain’t in it, or you’re slaving away for a pittance in the clubhouse.

Call me when they’re running a real economy again. They aren’t entirely jackin” it at Inner Harbor, but they’re sure trying. As they say on NPR, Here and Now’s Peter O’Dowd visits three piles of trash in Baltimore. Listen, I’m the last one to shade any of that, but all it amounted to was a skeleton crew at the incinerator, some dump truck drivers, and a neighborhood guy running the compost pile at a community garden in the outer part of the inner city. Otherwise they’re trying to fix the ghetto with some dead-end food service jobs on the deindustrialized waterfront that involve a whole lot of weird racialized socioeconomic shit from Whitey from the County. This is exactly what we get for being a society run by navelgazing idiots who can’t do rough mental arithmetic using factors of ten.

Huh. I thought that was supposed to be on the math test.

Remedying any or all of this might be expensive, as opposed to the DeVoses’ obscene compounds. Many graduates of our most lavishly funded, highly regarded schools truly do not understand that Jeff Bezos is worth a lot more than their dentist. Perhaps you understand now why I declined to call these schools our best. That said, schools are an expedient turnkey way to keep our young people, and our young at heart, from doing whatever else they might be doing.

It turns out that teaching, counseling, coaching, mentoring, socializing, and otherwise occupying a good third of the American population is expensive. If we know anything about the most deranged Dutch Reform shitheads in Southwestern Michigan, it’s that they’re cheap. They aren’t Book Jew cheap, either, like, I went over to the takeout place at Seventy-First and Eighth, but you wouldn’t believe it, they’re charging $7.50 for a half a dozen pot stickers, so I just got the pork chow mein. That shit’s all right, the chow mein and the decisionmaking. The DeVos clan all insist on ruling. Erik Prince just has to be a mercenary meathead who kills disfavored factions of Middle Easterners for their oil and minerals. The DeVos family has to preside over a multilevel marketing empire, collecting the tribute that is their due for being at the top of every upline every time some submissive schmuck from church sells a bottle of stovetop cleaner. Betsy has to make scholarship students clean her fucking house. I want that self-righteous bitch to answer me: what in all hell is wrong with more clutter and grime, or with less house? She’s a megalomaniac, and she’s also a miserable cunt.

These fuckers obviously don’t want to work for a living. They wouldn’t be joining armed raiding parties or running the most notorious MLM racket in the country, and maybe the world, if they did. Do they really think a Chicano kid from the wrong side of the tracks hasn’t heard of the idea of getting a job? And why does the job have to be for her benefactress? This arrangement is feudal. A woman with an estate that would astound most medieval kings has members of a family already overloaded with other duties perform domestic tribute on her mansion, which is one of many her family own in various places. This shit ain’t about self-reliance, which Betsy could model by doing her own damn cleaning, allowing her scholarship beneficiaries to do something actually worthwhile, like just study.

Southwestern Michigan is one of the most mental places in the country. Parts of Grand Rapids proper aren’t too bad, but the region is a clusterfuck. The DeVoses have more living and recreational space than they could possibly use, and meanwhile there are places half an hour away where the government is unable to maintain the roads. The local factory owners discovered early on that the Dutch, and the Dutch alone, were eager to cross picket lines and get to work. They like this: it was easier to have a conference of dour preachers boss them around on capital’s behalf than to dispatch Pinkertons to beat the shit out of Pollacks.

This culture is unrecognizable to the actual Dutch from the original Holland. The Dutch Dutch, historically liberal on the whole, mostly stayed that way, developing an impressive variety of productive indusries run by competent but assertive workers and an off-the-clock culture with a strong respect for individual liberty. The Michigan Dutch mutated into grandstanding managerial-class busybodies whose children play heaven. I’m not making that up. There are families in Ottawa County whose children play heaven.

Thank God my Michigan relatives are in Ann Arbor. Say what you will about the dueling anti-deer cull activist groups or the bougie business enclosure efforts; at least they aren’t a gaggle of the most impossibly preoccupied mummers blustering about a handful of out-of-context biblical passages and reveling in their own utter alienation from the natural world–creation, as some of us sometimes call it. Of course the Southwesterner zealots revile the Southeast’s raucous pagan-Catholic syncretic spirituality, with its sense of the meeting that, whatever the religious authorities say, the high holiday of Halloween is the capstone of the most important season, the Fall. Expose a kid to that and she might learn the wrong things about death, but also about life, and Walt Kowalski, and 28-year-old virgins who hold the hands of old ladies and promise them an eternity, and bequeathing the Gran Torino to the gook because he’s a friend now and God knows who else will take care of that poor Lab, and light? I’ve got a light.

Can’t have the little ones imagining that there’s a ghost inside that pumpkin. It’s of the Devil, just like praying for, or more often to, St. Richard Russell. Chill, bruh, I’m not saying he’s your intercessor. I’m not trying to monopolize Beebo, either, but if I’m bashful about disclosing my private litany of saints to my fellow Catholics when the first thing they say about their grandmothers is that they’re their intercessors, I suppose I’ll keep it close to the vest around hardline Calvinists of the sort who approve of summary bathtub baptisms.

The dude who made me that offer was a cradle Catholic. Go figure. Five Points, man. Talk about a religion for engineers. You know, just a little something to keep in mind in case militant Wahhabism isn’t working out so great. That one lady gave Mr. Explodeypants a Rosary and a Bible at his sentencing, I recall. I just get a not so good feeling about how he’ll use either of them, especially the one with the words. And we know all too well the characters who proselytize in prisons and around the Air Force Academy.

#KeepClimbing

Hey, a foreign US intelligence asset may have good professional reasons for learning how to follow but not waive the rules before he has bad ideological reasons. The DeVoses and associates don’t even learn how to keep buildings from falling down or anything like that by being horny for rules. It’s because taking the neighborhood mindset to engineering school would be too honest and require too much work. The incentives to have tangible skills at all at their station in life are nonexistent. It would just result in some dumb bastard doing the work the servants were hired to do.

Wack-ass Calvinism is in no way fundamental to becoming or being a billionaire. For the DeVoses, however, it coheres all too neatly. It’s some bad, bad shit. I can’t stand Warren Buffett on his own, but if these asshats are the alternative? Roll that beautiful Brokaw footage. The average billionaire is all like, I have the money so fuck you is why you work for me. These ghouls have an elaborate religious theology justifying their privileges as the lords and ladies of their manor empire and the apex predators at Amway. John Calvin had a less scatalogical but more disturbed dispute with the Catholic Church at a time when the latter was extra corrupt, and here we are half a millennium later, watching his adherents justify their own wanton predation and corruption in the name of his austere theology.

In case that isn’t funny enough, they’re doing it all under the ethnic auspices of the same nation that was too liberal for the Mayflower party. Mamma mia it is a blanda mushy pea! African-Americans often rue, and quite reasonably so, that they’re so deracinated from the Motherland, that they hit dead ends every time they try to trace their ancestries. We’ve traced some of our own family trees back into the 17th century, and these seem like good things to be able to learn, so I don’t want to make light of people with a similar interest in their ancestries hitting brick walls at Emancipation. Seeing what certain white people do with their old-country ties to Europe, however, makes the whole endeavor seem absurd. Italian identity is being a territorial paranoiac. Irish identity is being a belligerent territorial drunk. Scotch identity is a marginally more sober highland brawling thang. #PureMichigan Dutch identity is all about using personal religious zealotry as a cudgel to beat public policy until it conforms to the ideological will of one’s congregation.

It’s foolish to expect cultural stasis lasting centuries, but the examples above involve divergences running from the significant to the unrecognizable. It doesn’t help that Americans spend more time listening to crude ethnic marketing kitsch and the grandstading of the most obnoxious local ethnic representatives than they spend socializing with foreigners from the countries of origin in question. Pelosi? Snucchi? La Situazione? Eyyy, Guido, it ain’t a so autentico a meataball, #EY! I’m not just shitposting, though: I’m far from convinced that any of the three know anything materially true and useful about Italy.

God knows they’re solipsistic enough to be Americans.

Jim Sim on your ass, or not

That’s the thing about the Wesleyan Tradition. It inspires humility. It inspires introspection. It inspires a number of edifying realizations: that there are consequences for behaviors; that yelling like a wild animal is a behavior that might bring consequences; that the Genesis on Western, an art store, not a zoo, might be a bad place to go screaming; that there is, in fact, an outside place, one of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth and, as needed, animal noises, where one may be exiled for not using one’s indoor voice.

Gee. Nobody told Kavanaugh. How bow dah. It’s always some paranoid schizophrenic or shamelessly insolent juvenile delinquent who gets this shit. Brett Michael’s kin and cronies bought him his record. We’re the ones debased enough to call it clean, but they bought it in his youth, and in his maturity (sic) they are now selling it. Do these characters sound crass enough to rely on Reputation Builder? A website? Prole please. The basketball thing, with girls? The legal mentorship, again with girls? As Potter Stewart said, I can’t define barely legal, but I know it when I see it. Justice Kavanaugh certainly knows tit when he sees tit, and Tiger Mom refers young ladies who will ensure that he sees.

We’re operating on some curious premises here. A publicly accused serial sex pest coaching girls’ basketball is innocent behavior. $190,000 in personal debts suddenly and mysteriously repaid were incurred for the love of the National Pastime. An activity Pete Rose might enjoy? Don’t be so cynical; you just hate conservatives. Mark Judge is just a crank with literary pretensions who happens to publish a medley of sex pest appreciation, Houellebecquian dry drunk confessionals about his glory days in high school, and tradcon horseshit about ballroom dancing, and also to have been Brett Kavanaugh’s high school bff turned prospective libel defendant. Catholicism means knowing the names of some parochial girls’ schools nobody beyond MontCo has ever given a shit about and screaming that Protestant girls are treyf. Come out, Virginia, don’t make me wait; you Catholic girls are much too chaste, I might have to rape a prot broad–I mean, Christ, Amy, do I look to your blackout drunk ass like I’d stick it in that frigid WASP, and it’s BEER, you scurrilous piece of shit, and I’ve always enjoyed it legally and responsibly.

As I point out, if anything not often enough, any semiferal high school clique with a star alumnus on the rise and a closet full of skeletons would take one glance at the Mark Judge situation and think, shit, this guy domiciling himself at a UPS Store means we done goofed. Say, Thicke, what rhymes with “Bart, have you goofed yet?” Even after Kavanaugh was rising through the Special Counsel’s Office and the federal bench, neither he nor any of his old boys from Prep took the Mark Judge situation seriously enough to make sure that he they weren’t continuing to give him reasons to out Kavanaugh as a house party rapist with a severe drinking problem. Given that this dude’s high school buddies were so seedy, that he kept the same kind of shit up through college, that he scandalized Ken fucking Starr with the smutty questions he was itching to ask Monica Lewinsky, that he had unsatisfactorily explained debts that vanished all of a sudden, and that as a married man (with a hot wife, jussane) well into middle age he had an infamous Yale law professor pimping her coeds out to him as eye candy–this was Nadia giving Burgess an emergency on-the-job lesson in resting bitch face in the gangland whorehouse-level degraded, and again, the orchestrator was the most controversial law prof in the land after Dersh and maybe John Yoo–given this mesmerizing and yet probably not exhaustive bill of particulars, every one of them as easily exposed as a dong in a dorm room, it seems imprudent not to have set aside in trust, say, a gentleman’s baseball money to move Mark Judge’s downwardly mobile ass into a condo in Harrisburg or something.

I guess I notice this reckless, obnoxiously insouciant arrogance because I’m the Judge analog for a couple of midlevel PMC shitheads now terminally sore that I’m a class traitor, so hurt that I had the nerve to call them out for wanton abuse and ridicule them for being bumptious yuppies. I’m no great fan of Mark Judge (Ballroom dancing? Do you have to fucking WRITE about it?), but Kavanaugh did more than his share to make him relevant. This dude was floundering on the Washington think tank F List, publishing a mishmash of goody-two-shoes Book of Virtues bollocks for homeschooling parents in Loudoun County, rape fantasies, and roman-a-clef teen drinking memoirs, and his most prominent high school classmate threatened to sue him for libel.

We can tell that Kavanaugh, the lawyer of the two, wasn’t thinking straight. Like, okay, Sniffly, the punk maybe made you look kind of bad, but nobody gives a shit about him. Do you really want to draw attention to that loser? And whose ass is gonna catch the worse Irish tan from the sunshine: his, or yours? The other possibility was that Brett Michael was bluffing: sleazy but ethical (applications are down: interested in law school?), but also potentially high-risk: this dude writes for a living, rather like I fill out shit-for-brains fifteen-cent Amtrak Guest Rewards surveys for a living, and he might be interested in writing about how his best friend in high school is now a thin-skinned, litigious legal bigshot who used to join him for gang rapes.

We might expect him, as a lawyer, to heed Ken White’s advice and shut the fuck up. Or we might expect him, as the Honorable Brett Michael Kavanaugh, never to do a thing of the sort. This stupid son of a bitch thought it made sense to threaten to sue an indigent personal enemy of above-average writing skills for publishing harsh but truthful semifictional stories about him that nobody had the interest to read.

To their credit, none of my own Kavanaugh wannabes have threatened to sue me. They probably realize that I’d tell them to get fucked for trying, tell their shithead realtor fathers to go fuck themselves for bankrolling the effort, and sure as hell tell their lawyers to go fuck themselves for taking bogus action or daring to address me as anything but “sir” or “mister.” “Boss” and “dawg” don’t cut it here, cracka. I get wound up sometimes, but when push comes to shove I’m pretty good at flushing the chickens back into the bushes, where they belong.

Yeah, I’m talking about shysters who hold plurality voting shares in Altoona. I don’t feel like recapitulating my beef with these shitty cunts, but I will say that their recalcitrantly vile antics have done much to turn me against provincial elites. If they’re so bigoted against the vulnerable and the subjugated, there’s no damn reason why the rest of us shouldn’t be prejudiced against them.

*****

This, archetypally, is Joe Biden. He’s a provincial elite. He’s a car dealer’s son who got hired by the banks to represent their rotten borough, the same one that celebrates Separation Day (dat one-party consent, tho), and additionally used this elected office to orchestrate militarized segregationist campaigns of repression against vulnerable black constituents. This, of course, is why Obama elevated him to the vice presidency. That man, as the Clintons call him, moved from Hawaii to Chicago to shimmy up the greasy pole, and he was only able to dream of his father. Does he sound like the kind of fool who doesn’t get what makes a honky-ass racist tick? Mocha Haole had his pick of enthusiastic running mates who didn’t mouth off about the “articulate” and have histories of staunch stands against school busing. Joe’s who he chose.

Close variants of Joe Biden’s brand of faux-folksy bullshit are a dime a dozen among America’s mayors, county commissioners, state assemblymen, congressmen, and governors. Their bogosity doesn’t get them ostracized at the Country Club. If it has an effect at all, it’s positive. We flounder under the misconception, strategically orchestrated by right-wing extremists in the rich conservative intellectual tradition of Making Shit Up, that our elites are all egghead blowhards with academic or journalistic sinecures. Why the hell would some contemptuous, unemployable simpleton with impossible forehead architecture concede that the humanities faculty at Oberlin is a veal pen for dissidents? These are shameless liars with a slow seventh-grader’s grasp of political thot. They can’t even tell when their own lying fades into bullshit artistry into delusion. They believe, and some of them truly believe, that the median housing stock in the United States has always been of excellent quality and that the Soviet economy was along the lines of Beria personally horsewhipping factory workers into gulag trains for being too slow riveting Il-62’s together with hand-me-down meat tenderizers.

Biden has always been a vicious scumbag and a grabass, but until a few years ago he had the wits to temper his nastiness with deceptively evil policy acumen. Now that he’s dementing in full public view, he’s reverting to the same old bag of worn-out tricks as any other elite mediocrity from the provinces: grossly disingenuous schmoozing, passive-aggressive sheepdogging, hail-fellow-well-met threats whose veils thin under pressure and then shred, folksy nonsequiturs that could be anything from criminal threats to utter gibberish. This is an exhausting list, but it is not exhaustive. Funny Uncle Joe has the additional grace of being under eighty and already visibly stumbling into Strom Thurmond permanent diaper days, paradoxically exacerbated by his still being ambulatory enough to leave the stove on and walk out into traffic.

They don’t normally try to crown such a shambolic nominee. Or maybe they didn’t. We’re exploring some very weird territory this year. The kingmakers (by some reckonings, Obama himself) wrangled a collection of adequately lucid candidates to drop out all at once and endorse that lead-poisoned jumble of brain worms. Joe wasn’t the only bogusly folksy piece of shit on the stage; he was just the only bogusly folksy piece of shit with aggressive all-day dementia, runaway disinhibition, and failing eyelid function. He’s the gerontocratic equivalent of Brezhnev, or a version of Brezhnev that never shut his damn mouth. Between Trump’s grandiosity, Biden’s extreme decline, and the Booty Judge’s unctuous appeals to what the Baby Boomers at their worst wish their disappointing spawn would be, we’re living in times of extreme gerontocracy. It’s a whole-ass mood.

These are disgusting, repulsive characters. Just because I find Trump the most tolerable of them (usually excluding Warren, just to be clear) is no reason to expect others to feel likewise. On the other hand, the way MSNBC and the rest of the grand hysterics giving the Democratic Party its Slow Ghomeshi categorize our politicians is batshit insane. They analyze our politics with all the nuance of Rob Ford discussing the Jamaicans when he’s out for jerk chicken past his bedtime.

One subtle but, I’m convinced, crucial nuance they’re nowhere near getting is the relative psychosocial overlap of Trump, Kavanaugh, and Biden. They’re all sex pests, but that’s the easy part. So is Bill Clinton. And sure, they all make Rod Blagojevich look like Frank Serpico. They’re bad men. What I can’t stand about the shitlib reaction to our recent political circumstances is the constant, top-of-the-lungs shrieking about how singularly evil the orange man is and, since these nightmares can always get worse, Joe Biden is our indispensable salvation. Who the fuck are we calling “us?” It ain’t me, pal. I get incandescently fucking sick of listening to hysterical rich wackos clearly safe from the ill material effects of the evil policies any of these scumbags has enacted throwing fits about how I owe society and myself a vote for some absolute shithead to defeat a guy they find too embarrassing to take to a dinner party, just because I’m intelligent and I went to college. So did our presidents. Two of the most recent three hold MBA’s. The third is (what else?) a lawyer.

So much of this petulant, petty whining is about pointless distractions like Trump not bowing his head for grace at the Al Smith Dinner. I’ve got a scandalously elegant solution: cancel the fucking dinner. If it’s good enough for public masses this spring, it’s good enough for that bullshit any year.

This is what sets these losers off, not the actual policies in question, as we can tell because they were satisfied with Obama and are now rehabilitating Strategery. Adam Crapser might beg to differ, from Korea, but he’s a low-class criminal undesirable from Tacoma, not an American.

The liberal hive mind is rightly appalled about Kavanaugh, but it’s appalled from a position of disabling illogic. One of the few things even more disgraceful than shitting on the office floor during an interview and angrily demanding a job is being the boss who rewards that performance with a job offer. He’s totally a sex pest; the Deborah Ramirez allegations are especially credible. But she’s from the wrong side of the tracks in Connecticut, so of course they got Christine Blasey-Ford alone onto the Hill, the better to celebrate her “indelible in the hippocampus” distraction. It’s a fitting addition to the RBG home bookshelf, yes? Good God, y’all. I’ve never seriously thought she wasn’t honest, but that was like if I said, “Yeah, Lieutenant Tittytorque grabbed, squeezed, and twisted. You know it was a dry job, though, right? The boy cow doesn’t produce milk. I mean, not from there. I watched a kid milk a she-goat at the Sonoma County Fair once. Mercy did that girl gush.” Why the fuck was she testifying as an expert witness to corroborate her own testimony? Who greenlit that?

It’s amazing she isn’t another lawyer, like Inweaved in the Extensive, the one whose “parents own a goddamn steel mill.”

If we’re desperately peddling Joe Biden as the last line of defense against projectile reactionary scum like Brett Kavanaugh, we might want to check first to see that he doesn’t speak and comport himself in an eerily similar manner, have highly overlapping ideology, or be notorious for shepherding another emotionally volatile sex pest onto the Supreme Court. Huh. Some men are bound as brother soldiers, or cowboys, or monks; other men are bound by their shared love of smacking the poo-poo out of Corn Pop with a length of chain and stealing his girl.

Anita Hill is an eminently forgettable accuser when these are the stakes. I mean, not for me, but I wasn’t asked. Joe Biden and Clarence Thomas are both funny uncles you don’t want over at Christmas but you tolerate because you don’t want your grandmother to threaten you with the wrath of God; it’s just that the one used his committee position in the Senate to get the other a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Thomas is kind of a shithead (his jurisprudence isn’t as bad as advertised), and he was a pathetic high horseman to narcissistically inflame racial tensions at his confirmation hearings by arguing that he was being lynched, but at least he isn’t the same spoiling pile of slop as every other gladhanding reactionary creep in Washington. He’s a rare bird, a guy who could just as easily be appointed high school principal, charter a storefront church Friday afternoon and have two hundred congregants in the pews for his sermon Sunday morning, or walk into the woods and talk to bears.

This is in no way the case with Gropey Joe and Justice Blow. They’re the same utterly derivative catfishing elite son of a bitch. They have the same faux-humble entitlement and arrogance. They’re both scions of the same lace curtain Irish drunkard stock. Brett Michael, as we witnessed, is a whole lot more than a scion. They both grandstand about their own self-righteous Catholicism. Some of my Greater Bowie Marylanders from the Newman Club mount the high horse from time to time and get a bit wound up or abrasive in the saddle, but they aren’t assholes about it. (In Post-Soviet Pimlico, of course, saddle abrade YOU!) It’s a sign, and not a good one at all, that I cringe with embarrassment for some of the most zealous, politically activated, and LOUD pro-life friends I’ve ever had that a raging shithead like Kavanaugh has hitched his own wagon to the same horse. Since we’re waxing tendentious about horses and their riders again (and not even Mounties!), I might as well award a dishonorable mention to the 727 I watched back in September, and started to chronicle before executive function and focus got the best of me by going AWOL, land through a weakly sultry reverse-ops Indian Summer haze at BWI, inbound from Lexington with a full load of racehorses.

You’ll be shocked to guess who never did a thing so ridiculous with a horse, and with the Crown paying him to do it, no less.

Brett Michael, tho. Justice Blow and Gropey Joe fucking TALK alike. They were raised a couple of hours apart, roughly on the same Pennsy trunk line, but it’s more than that. My Anne Arundel-class pro-lifers (grab a pole and drop the A, eh; heehee!) have similar accents, but they don’t use theirs as a platform for avuncular sleaze. It’s because they’re good people, not incorrigible asshats. They aren’t used car salesmen turned A-List national political figures. (Yes, SCOTUS is a political institution. As I said, I’ve seen the RBG sections at fancy Bay Area bookstores, and just about barfed.) These friends of mine don’t even strive for political hair. Brett Michael’s hairline is solid, and the Junior Joseph Rubbinatte Bottom’s plugs are hair game that I, as a follicularly challenged American and sporadic Rogaine user, can’t help but respect, especially after a glance at the First State Solar-Powered Sex Machine. (I’ve also looked at I’m Not A Witch, and for more than a New York Minute, so we know that horny voting is not necessarily the path to the top).

The point is, Biden and Kavanaugh are both garbage. GTFO if you think I don’t notice. They’re the same fucking thing. They don’t even have an accent available as far afield as Perth Amboy, Purcellvile, or State College. We do not need these shysters. Say what you will about the Donald, and I’ve said a lot myself: at least his outer-borough diaspora Thirty Rock drama queen shtick is refreshing. Have you looked at the Senate lately? They’re fucking replicants.

Maybe that’s what the blob hates about Bernie. They hate a bunch of other things about him, too, but that fits the bill closely enough.

What the lanyard nerds and the self-serious ghouls doing business in the pews at Tim Russert’s funeral and every other piece of affiliated striver trash orbiting the Hill don’t get is that their darlings aren’t even FUN. If you’re gonna starve us to death, could you at least entertain us along the way? Shit, it isn’t even necessarily that fatalistic. Trump’s inability to last a week without reverting into a messy bitch from Queens who lives for drama gets the civility scolds, staffer nerds, hysterical affluent liberals, and Dudley Do Right conservative throwbacks into enough of a lather to actually push back from time to time. We saw for years how they reacted to the same policy pushes from smoothies like the Big Dog, Poppy and Sonny, and Mocha Haole: jack fucking shit.

It’s horrifying that they can’t be bothered to care about evil. At least they care about aesthetics.

*****

The other weird virtue Trump somehow possesses is a recognition that it’s dishonorable to step into the ring and then whine about getting bruised. He has an odd way of showing it, incorrigible whiner and drama queen that he is. What does stand out about him, in this vein, is that he doesn’t constantly provoke enemies and then go whining to the mods about how they hurt him and violated the rules. He hits straight back. He does his own rough work.

He’s a rich, pampered piece of shit, but he’s an unusually honorable and self-reliant rich piece of shit. We’re so propagandized to assume that it’s normal and acceptable for our betters to play dirty, then turn right around and try to get their opponents into trouble for playing dirty, that we’ve lost the vocabulary to describe their treacherous sleaze.

He’s rich. If he isn’t, he plays it convincingly to string along the Business Success Guy bridge loans. If this means turning to Eurotrash banks or Russian oligarchs or American oligarchs (known domestically as NBC) because reputable US banks got terminally sick of his bullshit, he’ll gladly do that. So would every other rich prick who pissed off the banks at home and could line up backup financing.

But that’s just the Donald. Being rich, the Oaf of Office surrounds himself with–what else?–other rich people. He’s eclectic enough to accrete more idiosyncratic types as well: pushy ethnonationalists (Miller, Sessions), troubled autodidacts (Bannon), well-compensated professionals who can’t fucking stand him because they’re competent (Tillerson; moron this from time to time); but he’s rich. Those of us who pay attention know exactly who swarms the rich: peers, sycophants, and servants. This explains Spicer (pure sycophant) and Scaramucci (intersectional peer-sycophant).

It’s no coincidence that the Clintons have come to be orbited by a force field of the same three taxonomical wonders. James Carville, the Ragin’ Cajun, is a hardnosed throwback to the K/T Boundary, back when Mammalia evolved from him and Billary accepted that they had to fight to win. We see, all too much, who they keep around now. More and more it’s hubristic scum like Neera Tanden and hopeless fools like Adam “How Could Bernie Would Have Won” Parkhomenko, who somehow lives deeply enough in the real world to be a reserve police officer. Truly the Chief works in mysterious ways.

We know wifey loves her some servants: she says so herself in her memoirs, cooing about the inmate servants assigned to the Arkansas governor’s mansion as a charming regional curiosity, not Jim Crow indentured slavery.

Those who reach the Clintons’ station in life in these decadent postmodern days strut into the funhouse. Chelsea, having been born into it, is in weird, horrifying ways even worse than her parents. The three of them are an ouroboros of grotesquery, the first-generation new money parents defending their perch with frantic, hateful hostility, the second-generation wealth native daughter scandalized and befuddled that her inferiors would ever imagine her to be anything but an executive function and early childhood education genius. Think Megan McArdle, Meghan McCain (McMeghan, not McMegan), ad the eldest three Trump kids. Or, if you wish to remain continent of stomach, don’t. It’s your reading day; I’m just trying to spoil it, with facts.

No less beautifully are we graced with the leadership of plausible eunuch, cuckold, gentleman-fancier, and/or husband Jared Kushner, a young man who now has the Thicc Moist President’s ear about pharmacological research he’s been hearing about from his buddies in Silicon Valley. Absolutely nothing about this situation is possible without ostentatious privilege. The head of government and state listening to this reckless happy horseshit got the fawning coverage that he used to maintain and build the A-List celebrity launch pad for his presidential run because he lives in extreme privilege. The fey twerp whispering this horseshit into his ear behind closed doors became his son-in-law because he’s privileged. The coked-up Dunning-Kruger retards telling Kushner about this combination of corporate patent-squatting, affiliate-marketer grifting, and game-of-telephone horseshit about the new miracle drugs which happen to have side effects including premature death, oops lol, are buddies with him because they’re privileged and he’s privileged. The same Sand Hill Road shitheads come to believe in this horseshit in the first place because they’re privileged.

There are reasons why, like, 5% of medical doctors and nurses, less than 1% of pharmacological researchers, and 90% of public techbros fall for this lifethreatening woo. Our elites go to school to rise ABOVE education. They enroll to transcend the mind. Nobody who actually practices medicine in this country is a member of the elite above the county level. We compensate our physicians, surgeons, and psychiatrists rather lavishly, especially the more useless ones, and we have at least our fair share of medically degreed idiots, but let’s be clear. Tom Price stopped practicing medicine to go flying. Bill Frist examined Terry Schiavo same as I examined Dagmar Midcap’s tits on the eleven o’clock news. If Dr. Frist’s beloved medicine is so fulfilling, why doesn’t he just practice it? There are medical doctors who practice medicine instead of bragging about their periodic overseas mission trips as members of Congress who own gargantuan, incorrigibly predatory vulture capital hospital chains.

But why merely make good money doing more or less good work when you can sell the hell out for a windfall or five and not exactly have to work for it? Work ain’t how you strike it big, kid. Elon Musk doesn’t work; he posts. The SEC never told him to shut up for quietly discharging his fiduciary duties as a corporate officer. It’s no coincidence that he’s landed mining gentry. Even when these upper-crust shitheads work instead of tweaking out all the live-long day and starting flame wars on main, they revert to thuggery and live off the avails of the labor of tens of thousands. Bill Gates had his lawyer father menace his competitors with unethical letters threatening vexatious legal action. When Jeff Bezos assembled Amazon’s early executive and technical teams, he demanded their SAT scores.

These guys can’t even be nerds without throwing their weight around. A grown-ass college graduate asking about SAT scores? Fuck off you miserable cunt. Warren Buffett is a literary giant compared to his class peers, but he doesn’t do anything legitimately along the lines of work to support himself. Plenty of unemployed shut-ins and cafe wastrels over the years have written engaging correspondence. We don’t, as a society, give them a break by stipulating that this correspondence is a form of employment.

The reason we deem Warren Buffett employed is that he plays Monopoly with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. Realize that back in the Gilded Age, at the height of the Grange agitation on the prairie, at maximum-volume William Jennings Bryan Cross of Gold voice, before the old preacher man stalked off to Tennessee to yell at hillbillies about monkeys and God, the Midwestern public and for that matter a great portion of the American citizenry at large were up in arms against no fewer than three oligopolistic predecessor railroads, all of them now formally commemorated by name in the amalgamation: the Burlington, the Great Northern, and the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe. Warren Buffett now owns all of these networks, and I couldn’t say offhand how many others, as a single consolidated holding. This Tom Brokaw-ass son of a bitch turns on a computer and trades Boardwalk for the Reading Railroad like he and the boys are playing a round of Bullshit around a campfire at Philmont.

All a billionaire has to do to win the most gushing praise for his intelligence and warmth is not carry on in public like a missing Kardashian. Shit, Musk doesn’t even try, and he still has a chorus of fanboys caterwauling about how he’s an absolute genius. This is a guy who got so salty at an expert cave explorer for saying that his armchair admiral’s rescue submarine proposal wouldn’t work that he called the spelunker a pedophile.

Let’s fucking level here: nobody who shows up with a modicum of technical expertise in the matter at hand lashes out like that. Of course the guy with the Popular Mechanics-ass proposal to send a prototype submarine into a cave that ended up drowning a crack Thai Navy diver is the same asshole who smoked a blunt on air during a videotaped radio interview about his visionary publicly traded companies, tried to float an IPO at $420 for the lulz, and bragged about fixing traffic from Marina del Rey to the Grapevine to Sand Hill by tunneling what amounts to a high-speed electrified replication of the US 6 expressway on Cape Cod.

*****

This is what happens when we let people secede from the world and simultaneously consolidate their power over it. Christopher Lasch himself wouldn’t be able to imagine how revolting they have become. Alas, Wesley Willis was primarily an autobiographer, a man parochially chronicling only his own accountability, not the accountability of the masters we share.

Be the Jim Sim you wish to see in their lives.