Gerald Ford at Heaven’s Gate

One of the most haunting Inside Baseball stories to emerge from modern American political life is the story of Gerald Ford telling his golfing buddies that he was sure he would go to hell for pardoning Richard Nixon. This story was publicized by Hunter S. Thompson, a man who famously found his own measure of peace towards the end after a career of fastidiously measured commentary, so we can make of it what we will, but the possibility that it wasn’t 100% bildungsroman fiction or otherwise total bullshit gives me pause.

The implications are eerie. Most glaringly, Ford had resigned himself to his own looming damnation because he had a conscience. Without one, he would not, as they say, have given a damn. Whatever he was feeling, whatever combination of regret, haunting, fatally poor judgment in a time of crisis, or tragic political destiny, these were the thoughts of a man capable of moral thought and willing to engage in it despite the fear and the pain.

Or, as his incidental biographer would say, the loathing. By the way, did you know that the hippie Boomer swarm now has earnest hagiographies of Thompson on film? You probably didn’t want to know that, but you do now. #TheMoreYouKnow, assholes. Incorrigibly parasitic and belligerently entitled Boomer shitheads living vicariously through the storied moral clarity of their tortured mad-genius auteur senpai is always a scene of beauty. Truly this is a tapestry that ought to be chucked into the fucking wood stove once we’re done burning the all the combustible death-trap fixtures on the commune, since it really isn’t and never has been one. Not that it would necessarily be a bad idea to burn it all down at once, or that I have any idea what 1946 birth cohort ever gave an uppity youngster like me the concept of arson as praxis.

Sure, Thompson could be legit wack, and he was temperamentally one to comingle fact and opinion, but the essay of his that I linked ran in the Atlantic, which employs professional fact-checkers, so that probably isn’t just a cock-and-bull story that the old boy made up for the moral force or the lulz. And as I said, it’s haunting. In the archival imagery, Ford consistently looks more at peace than many of his predecessors, especially Nixon and LBJ, and at least two of his successors, Bush II and Trump. He pulled some dipshits moves when he was in Congress, but in no way did that make him special, and it’s painful to imagine a man who completed his presidency with such public grace and decency quietly bearing such a burden in his old age.

The possibility that he was damned by his own conscience is even scarier. Does this mean that psychopaths, who are so numerous in politics, outmaneuver the judgment seat precisely because they are so soullessly evil? Do these ghouls actually corrupt the source code so utterly that they, of all people, can evade judgment? Given how demonically they carry on here on earth, it’s worth pondering, but not enjoyably so. If life is in fact the one-night stand that forever is not, think about what this may mean, and be thankful that I’m not meming Bryan Adams for thoughts on heaven. *Glen Campbell, back on the line, as he is from time to time* Well, I can’t say that dying didn’t at least spare me some of this ridiculous horseshit, but God help y’all if that fucker ever leaves the airport when he flies through Houston and is allowed near a computer after that. *I’m afraid this sidebar’s over.* Seriously, does Dick Cheney ever give these things a moment’s thought? W? Henry Kissinger?

All three are still among us. Kissinger looks like hell, whence so many think he came, and has for years, and yet he’s still hobnobbing with leaders who would be too embarrassed to associate with him in public if they didn’t hold the rest of us in dripping contempt. Ford wasn’t some It’s a Wonderful Life-ass nightgown cunt of a heavenly do-gooder, but the grotesque swathes of what came before and after him in high office make him look positively good, and we’ll never be able to grope our way to decent leadership again if we don’t keep the memories of what we’ve done halfway right in the past. I’m not trying to bitch and whine about the Donald as some special apocalyptic aberration, either; Jimmy Carter is the only successor to Ford in the presidency to date who had the decency not to flagrantly degrade their office for scandalously crude and selfish reasons. If Ford thought he was going to hell for what he did in office and no other modern president felt likewise after examining his own conscience, that speaks eloquently well of Ford and terribly of the others.

What makes this story really perverse is that Ford was sure that he would be damned because he had shown mercy. This may have something to say about the nature of mercy and its flaws, but what it really speaks to is the sheer dysfunction and perversion of American politics. The crux of Ford’s guilt for pardoning Nixon was that he had established moral hazard. This would be a much more compelling argument if Tricky Dick hadn’t just been driven from office by a Congress outraged enough to impeach him. Congress hadn’t even had to follow through with a trial and removal from office; the threat to do so had been adequate. Nixon had already faced a significant measure of justice and accountability; resignation in lieu of trial has always been an option for officials facing impeachment, because impeachment is expressly a mechanism to compel sitting executive officials to prove their fitness for office when a quorum of legislators question it.

The crooks and thugs who eventually followed the Nixon Administration included some real choice pieces of shit, but Ford had no way to predict any of that. There was no way to predict Oliver North by extrapolating from Chuck Colson. There was no way to extrapolate Reagan as president from anyone who preceded him in that office, and it would have been extremely difficult to predict his policies as president from those he pursued as the governor of California. The only arc that anyone could have followed without functionally supernatural powers of observation and prediction was that Sunset in America would continue to be a vapid dogwhistling bullshitter. Not a decade after Ford’s retirement, the Republican Party started going in a direction that had nothing to do with him or those around him. Ford was never the one collecting the country’s worst religious busybody wackos, starve-the-beast supply-side asshats, and latter-day robber baron scumbags.

The fundamental mistakes in Nixon’s aftermath weren’t even his to make. Ford had retired after an exceedingly long career in public office, and sensibly and decently so. No one anywhere else on the political spectrum had the power or the political skill to stop the unsavories from commandeering the GOP and redirecting it to their ill ends. By the time Congress started seriously demolishing its credibility as stewards of the powers of impeachment and removal, Ford was quite elderly and a critical mass of his nominal fellow-travelers in the GOP had no interest in what he thought of their mummery and grandstanding. The Clinton impeachment, followed as it was by the Bush, Obama, and Trump nonimpechments, did a great deal of damage to the credibility of national political norms, but that wasn’t on Gerry Ford. The sexually repressed wacko hardliners in the GOP brought articles of impeachment over a blowjob, and since none of Slick Willie’s successors have been impeached for extreme civil liberties and due process violations or verbal outbursts of gross public immorality, a norm has been established that impeachment is an impotent mechanism (giggity) for loudmouths with skeletons in their own closets to use when they’re butthurt that the president is getting too much action from his plump Jewess.

*Larry Craig, taking the typical wide stance* I wasn’t jealous of HIM, you naughty little twerp! When our leadership class has recently included such gems as Gateside Downlow, J. Denny Dundiddly, and the Third Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions, we’d be jerks to try to lower the boom on Gerald Ford, or to agree with him for being so painfully hard on himself and so despairing of his own fitness for godly mercy.

Honestly, Ford should have gone to mass. He should have gone to Rosary gatherings. There wasn’t any need for him to convert, but that was a man whose inherited Protestant faith failed to provide him the guidance he needed through an especially difficult moral quandary that would have tried any president. Carter has never noticeably been failed by his Baptist faith, nor was Nixon by his Quakerism, but Ford would have been well advised to go to mass and the Rosary, find an out-of-the-way seat, and listen and be still. He needed that. He was a prominent object lesson on why we pray for our dead.

To be sure, he would have made a great first Catholic ex-president. That would have been badass as fuck. By Zapruder we haven’t had one yet, no matter how fervent we may insist that we would cherish him above Ruby. Tricky Dick would have made himself a respectable credit to the faith, too; peace at the center isn’t exactly Catholic, but it’s close enough. (Mainly it’s too Anglo-Saxon in its phrasing.) No, I’m not trying to be cute or start a flame war or anything. The old crook knew that he was troubled. He was humble enough to recognize that he had gotten grandiose. Besides, much of the reason why he looks so bad is that his contemporaries in Congress were assertive enough to hold him to account. They didn’t just talk about booting his ass out of the White House, as they feebly and ridiculously do these days when Trump mouths off with his latest heinous outburst.

If you want a scandalously bad RCIA hotshot candidate, try Mocha Haole in all his chameleonic smugness. Try the Big Dog or LBJ, both of them incorrigibly slippery Dixie sleazeballs. Go figure that it wasn’t a man of chastity or decorum who showed up in Washington with those initials. As he supposedly said, banging his fist on the table, I’ve had more damn women by accident than the Kennedys have had on purpose! Whether he said that or not, that’s truer than Gerald Ford’s irreversible and eternal damnation, and if we’ve five minutes to put Signora up against the wall in this, our time, rightly divided, we oughtn’t spend it praying for any of those three because they perhaps came to some grief in an indulgence of horn.

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Cholleycod

To my relief, my greatest apprehension about traveling through Boston was not realized. My fear–and you really shouldn’t be surprised if you’ve been paying attention; this isn’t a particularly novel insight–my fear concerned the dismaying possibility that at some point in the course of my interline connection between Logan and South Station I’d be forced to get Charlie off. CHAHLEE!

But enough about working at CBS. Shit, guys, the T kicks ass. Boston isn’t like Atlantic City, where it’s something like a mile from the train station to the Boardwalk or several blocks from the bus station. In Boston you can take the train right to the fucking beach. It can’t be more than about half again as far from the Wonderland terminus to the beachfront gazebos as it is trackside from the Sacramento Amtrak depot, and it’s a beautiful trip on one of America’s most fly as shit rides. The Suffolk Downs station is immediately across the street from a Bayfront marsh, and you know what Teddy always told Mary Jo: the mash, that’s pat of the sea, too. Don’t look at me like that; I’m not the one whose permanent senior US Senator got drunk enough to Ride the Ducks. Yeah, yeah, I know: the Harris lady. But at least we don’t have an entire family devoted to that crap for three generations running.

I never expected to find such low-key chill-as-fuck neighborhoods so close to the airport on such an excellent rapid transit line. Now that I’ve been there, I can’t wait to get back to Sacramento and once again watch RT catastrophically fuck everybody’s shit up. Run Can Car consists all day every day and it’ll still be a next to useless shit show. I checked, and my voter registration was approved, so I lives there, and I is in fact coming back in shortly, but as I keep saying, my plants deserve better than that. The navel orange trees on the Capitol grounds aren’t the only Brazilian thing about that, uh, City of God.

It’s hard to believe that I didn’t miss Boston’s city parts of town in the six hours between landing and rolling out for Schenectady, scratch that, Rensselaer because Metro-North got FUBAR from treefall and the combined Lake Shore Limited reached Cleveland at about two in the afternoon. It’s certainly true that the regional affluenza is wicked out of control wicked north. Prior to this week, I’d been to Boston twice that I could remember, excluding a round trip through Logan on the way to and from Lake Winnipesaukee, which I just needed three tries and the internet to relearn how to fucking spell, at the age of three and a half. That was the week of the Challenger disaster, or, as I explained it, the thing where the space shuttle blowed up and all the people falled off.

It’s too bad that wasn’t a Harvard mission. For such a stupid and arrogant crew they sure keep enough retainers around who care about the O Rings and the deicing protocols. The main thing I remember from Harvard and awah feyah surrounding city, other than the jackasses the admissions department sent to talk to my group who were so unprofessional and flippant that I refused to apply, was that I couldn’t quite put a finger on what was wrong with it all but it all just seemed kind of fucked up. In retrospect, I realize that I probably felt that way because it was super fucked up. The traffic and the street system (it ain’t a grid) were definitely fucked up, to the extent that I ended up on the wrong side of the Charles River because I missed a turnoff sign by fifty feet, and the drivers were total assholes. I was timid enough to believe my dad on an earlier trip, when I was in my early teens, that we’d waste the whole trip waiting on trains if we took the T; it wasn’t until I finally went on my own this week that I confirmed that the worst streets covered up the best rapid transit.

If I tried, I’m sure I’d be able to find assholes around there who complain that Uber is too slow and expensive. After all, Brookline is overflowing with these shitheads, who aren’t quite moneyed enough to have their driver fetch the car but are close enough to be quietly resentful that, like Moses, they will never quite make it to that promised land, tantalizingly near though it is, a thing they can see and do not cease trying desperately to reach but can never properly take into their possession. Matthew Stewart, the author of the Atlantic article in the link, is descended from a dipshit who inherited enough oil money to buy a Bentley and some club memberships and, registered social version of Cousin Gigolo that he was, blew it on exactly that. Steve Almond, the smarmy fuck who went to one of the high schools that I might have attended on a different timeline, lives in Arlington, and his celebrated Palo Alto schools appear in Stewart’s article as the top eleven public elementary schools in all of California. We’re dealing here with a hardcore elite stupid enough to give a shit about bridge and the Social Register and a class of not-quite-arrived arrivistes so desperate to join them that, cash-strapped slumdogs with a cool half mil in equity in newly renovated Brookline houses that they are, go online to try to hire part-time governesses for their brats.

I swear, these fucking asswipes need to be sentenced to Fresno.

Cities where over half of the adult population holds graduate degrees are not normal. Neither is asking the clerk at the bodega why the same bottle of wine is cheaper at Whole Foods. That’s another thing that Harvard men and women do. Whenever I think of the utterly appalling expectation that the rest of us defer to these self-important idiots as our social, intellectual, and moral betters, William Buckley’s fantasy about being governed by the first hundred names in the Boston telephone directory is a point well taken. To paraphrase Winston Smith, the proles around there look well-adjusted enough to maybe save the bourgeoisie from itself, because like hell will Harvard’s bumper crops of psychiatrists and arm-cutters do anything so thoughtful for their own people. No, seriously, if I had kids I’d rather leave them under the supervision of the baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants I saw around Logan than with most of the people I knew in college, and anyone who insists that I’m anti-intellectual for saying so is a goddamn fool. I despise these gobshites BECAUSE I have a life of the mind.

America’s meritocratic winners would have us all assume that, just as they insist, what they’re doing is ordered to the enforcement of the labor theory of value; like, Atul Gawande has critical, hard-to-replace medical skills that an airport ramper does not, and that’s why their kids are all investment bankers. There are all kinds of ways to fall short of one’s potential as a productive member of society, but it gets awfully tiresome to listen to these assholes reflexively dignify their socioeconomic peers no matter how useless or destructive their work objectively is and without objection keep up the pretension that white-shoe law and marketing are worthy, important lines of work in ways that making sure the bags are loaded onto the plane so that it doesn’t crash and keeping the plane from being backed into another plane are not.

Then these assholes complain to one another about the tile guy not showing up right when they needed him there to renovate their kitchens, and how that meant they had to eat Thai takeout for a month. With that attitude on the customer end and jobs that serve no legitimate social purpose, why the fuck should the tile guy show up at all? Of course he’s in it for the money, and he was probably booked solid doing the same pointless work for other insufferable yuppies, but why the hell shouldn’t he be walking around Barnstable stuffing his face with chowder all day instead? I eat an awful lot of Thai food for a white boy without an apartment, and you don’t hear me complaining about too much green curry.

We might be able to understand this situation without NPR, but that wouldn’t induce enough vomiting. What did Werman and his twerpkin have to bitch about while I was on my way to the airport to fly to Boston the other day? Why, another fucking complaint about how Americans don’t want to take seasonal food service jobs in tourist towns on Cape Cod. It isn’t Groundhog Day because the feds won’t admit Jamaicans on demand to fill barista jobs; it’s Groundhog Day because this same goddamn horseshit about how Americans are shitty employees and this inconveniences rich restaurant-goers is on the fucking state radio again. Brahmins had to wait in line because there weren’t enough Jamaicans, mon, and barring the national door to lawful temporary entry by nonimmigrant noble savage kitchen jockeys is not cool, mon.

The restaurant that this radio-enabled whine-one-one call profiled is called, I shit ye not, Hot Chocolate Sparrow, and it’s owned by, again, Scout’s Honor, a Perry Sparrow. NPR devoted nationally syndicated airtime to a complaint about how it takes longer to get hot chocolate in a fancy restaurant on Cape Cod than at, I dunno, a Cumberland Farms in Schuylerville. Here’s another idea: go the grocery store and buy some Swiss Miss, say hi to Anthony if he’s working, and SHUT THE FUCK UP.

You’d think that, America being a free-market country and all, Mr. Sparrow and fellow birds of his feather could address their labor shortage by, say, paying twelve months’ wages for three or four months’ work and maybe providing decent free housing as well. Instead we get to listen to fucking Jonathan Livingston Seagull complain about how he spent the entire season waiting on the government to approve his Jamaicans, on the premise that we’ll grant the dude the minimal judgment needed to competently run a small business. I don’t care about the moral value or lack thereof of overpaying Cape Cod’s food service line workers, and it’s certainly no game in which I have skin since I’m planning to spend another summer making less than minimum wage for farm work with dignity, mostly, but either their timely labor is worth a market premium or it isn’t, and given the general market conditions in that part of the country, I’m guessing that it’s worth more to the owners than the swing shift at a Lake George Stewart’s in February.

And I’m the last person to tell the help that it needs to be more enthusiastic about serving yuppies for minimum wage. I disappear from the blueberry gig when the dignity flies the coop and don’t return until it sounds like the bullshit has attenuated, and that’s a job that actually is time-critical in the sense that the fruit will rot, not make-believe time-sensitive in a waah the weather is getting le cold and I wanna go to Florida way. Even so, my bosses don’t berate me about how much trouble they have finding and keeping help, and I haven’t found them berating the public about this shameful state of affairs on its (sic) national radio network. If Perry Mason Birdman can’t make the job tolerable enough to keep Americans on duty in spite of the shit wages he pays, that’s on him, and probably on his customers on a pretty regular basis. Remember, this is the set that summers on the Cape. Maybe the free-market rate to get Americans or already work-authorized foreigners to put up with these assholes for a summer is roughly what an Amtrak conductor would make with overtime in a year. Given that they’re obviously dealing with worse shit at work than I do at the same time of year, I can’t begrudge them whatever they’re making. As I said, I don’t get lectured at work, both because I don’t tolerate managerial horseshit on piece rate and also because my bosses are generally pretty decent about that stuff, get off their bullshit pretty quickly if they have been back up on it, and obviously mean well. Being in the back of the house doesn’t hurt, either. My fellow Sacramentans may not treat my plants decently, but my plants treat me great.

Come to think of it, getting Charlie off must pay better than any of this, although I’m sure Cousin Gigolo would find a way to lowball his own rate until it doesn’t.

State of the Unction: goobernatorial edition

The California gubernatorial primary debate on Tuesday night was mentally exhausting. If the candidates meant to wear their audience down to nothing in a war of attrition by means of bullshit, I guess they succeeded. At least they did with me, that is. The scary possibility is that there are actually constituencies for the garbage they’re flogging, and in the state that elected Kamala Harris to the United States Senate, that’s uncomfortably likely.

I listened to most of this dismaying spectacle on the radio, on the radio, Lord have mercy on us in this nightmare that Van and Fats utterly failed to stop. I don’t know whether the visual cues would have helped or hurt, or what either of these words even means anymore, and I’m not about to dial that shit up to see. To licentiously paraphrase Meat Loaf and his freak-ass songsmith Jay What’s-His-Name, I think it is (this is already a dumpster fire, so why not), two out of six not being really bad ain’t bad. If you insist on feeling sad for Argentina instead, realize that it’s probably at a higher state of civic and socioeconomic development than California right now. The Not Deplorable, as we might call them, were John Chiang and Delaine Eastin.

This is, however, all relative, as Mainers say when they’re dating. Chiang waded into the same swamp of crude language and thinking about the great virtuous strength of diversity that Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa so ostentatiously inhabit, and Eastin, by my assessment the best speaker of the entire lot, used her podium as a bully pulpit to decry adultery, as notoriously practiced by our old boys Gavin and Antonio. Then again, if an occasional sub-Brenda Jorett-level scolding about the most ridiculously unenforceable morals clause is the worst we’ll have to endure from our next governor, we’ll be in pretty good shape. I mean, just look at the fucking alternatives, including ones we’ve already suffered.

I mention from time to time the unfortunate truth that the Republicans are not the absolute worst political party. Not Tuesday night’s crop: for the life of me I could not fucking tell the two of them apart, Travis Allen and John Cox droning on in the same generically Midwestern accent and cadence to express the same wretchedly tired talking points about small government and personal responsibility in the same belligerently self-righteous speaking style. I tried, again and again, but I couldn’t distinguish them for a minute straight. Maybe it is because they are white. They both sounded like perpetually aggrieved faux-middle-class rich guys worth a good ten times more than they let on with an hour or two of talk radio five days a week, probably funded by some gross medley of mail-order dialysis supply companies and two-bit goldbug scams.

One of them, I forgot which within ten seconds if I even tracked it in the first place, barked that the obvious alternative to the high-speed rail debacle is $59 fares on Southwest. This stupid fuckhead didn’t mention that these fares come with conditions, often including 14-day advance purchase and by the way we’re all sold out, and then announced that Southwest would be expanding its extreme transfarency under his governorship to a new airport that he’d be building in the Central Valley. Maybe he believed this, or maybe not; I couldn’t tell. What I could tell was that it was absolute bullshit: Southwest doesn’t even fly to Fresno (I’ve checked), and that fool will not be building a new commercial airport. Nice El Toro “Great Park” you’ve got there. Nice John Wayne, too; shame if Harrison Ford buzzed some 737s there and then told air traffic control that he was the schmuck who did it.

These weren’t the only two with vocal oddities. I wasn’t sure at the time that I’d be able to tell Gavin Newsom apart from Jerry Brown in a voice lineup. On second thought, I guess it would be a matter of gauging just how much gravel is rattling around back there. Chiang’s delivery came across as surprisingly meek and foreign-accented, but otherwise normal enough. Villaraigosa, true to form, sounded as greasy as he looks and tied several of his sentences into retarded knots that could be untangled only in context. Eastin had the sheer delivery style needed to read the drive-time news on NPR, but not the head trauma. This is an unreasonable thing to ask, but imagine Mary Louise Kelly, but not a dork.

Okay, this is insane: I just looked Radio MLK up, and damned if she isn’t a certifiable MILF. This is every bit as crazy as the time I discovered that Marco Werman doesn’t look like a total twink.

If this is the slate we deserve, we’re a bad people. We should have had some inkling of this for a decade or two, to be generous and nostalgic about what we possibly were at our historic best. The two overall strongest candidates, Newson and Villaraigosa, are notorious greasies. The only way either of the Republican shitheads has a chance of winning the general election in November is if they both somehow beat an evenly divided Democratic field in the jungle primary with support barely worthy of Ross Perot in a good year. Newsom has supposedly pulled ahead of the Democratic pack, and whichever Republican asshat pulled ahead with the funding is supposedly well ahead of the other assshat, something that I really don’t care to look up again because not only are they both all-around bigoted pieces of shit, they’re also of questionable enough mental character that I’d hesitate to trust either of them to water my plants.

This assumes a counterfactual California in which I have a place to live with room for some plants. It’s useful to scale up this exercise in the California that might have been and perhaps once was to include everyone who got run out of the state by skyrocketing costs of living and trashed job markets over the past thirty years. If any of us are sitting around scratching our heads about how and why the electorate became so distorted in recent memory, and the politics so dysfunctional, this should help explain some shit.

To licentiously paraphrase Sir Robert Peel, the policy is the public, and the public is the policy. The difference, of course, is that we’re the ones paying the Highway Patrol overtime to roust the homeless from the Capitol Mall at nightfall and also to facilitate Sworn Coffee Hour all summer at the Truckee Starbucks. We also have an uncontrollably metastasizing force of rentacops, an often marginally employable and out-of-shape group drawn from that half of the working class that can be hired to run off and, if need be, kill the other half of the working class. (Get back to me about Chippies being working-class when they no longer own motorboats.)

The public we’ve got is, as the candidates so annoyingly reminded us, diverse; it is our strength. They’re straw-manning most of the electorate if they’re trying to imply that anyone considers it an ideal for the Mexican to hate the Chinaman, the Chinaman to hate the Negro, the Negro to hate the Mexican, the Irishman to hate everyone, and the Italian to be WASP enough for the West. Fit the Indian into this wherever you fucking please, cross your feathers and dot your whatevers.

There are hardcore racial bigots in California, including ones noted for their service in the Trump White House, but they’re a minority. They’re nowhere near numerous, organized, or aggressive enough to determine the state’s politics unless the Democrats all shit the bed of one accord. Many of the bigots who lived here into the eighties moved way the hell north and east sometime in the nineties; Mark Fuhrman, for one, is up in Idaho on the Whitey Rez now. What’s left behind is a bitter rump, surprisingly affluent, by the way, chronically sore about how many fucking wetbacks there are polluting the state whose menial labor they themselves have absolutely no interest in undertaking, and equally sore about how they can’t live on the beach without sharing their state with a permanent majority of shitlibs. Idaho has beaches, too, but they aren’t in Orange County. Every belligerently whiny shit like Stephen Miller can afford to buy a shack in Mountain Home to serve as his domicile for voting purposes, and maybe save some money on car registration; as it happens, Southwest does fly to Boise, although not to Bakersfield.

This crew is a fucking disgrace. I am not here to concede it any legitimacy. That said, the center-left deliberately misremembers the turnover of California’s population circa 1989-2000 as the Expulsion of the Deplorables, a righteous crowd-sourced reverse Ferdinand and Isabella deal that finally made the Golden State safe for the swarthy. This just ain’t so. White bigotry is not in fact an inverse function of income and net worth. This is provably untrue. There are bigots among the white middle and lower classes, but the Americans who were effectively run out of the state starting around 1990 by an overheating housing market and a faltering job market were in no way all bigots, and they were not all white. There is no way this group didn’t include large numbers of blacks and significant numbers of Chicanos. I wouldn’t be surprised if it included significant numbers of active enrolled members of Indian nations. This diaspora was not a mashup of Roseanne Barr, Archie Bunker, the Beverly Hillbillies, and the Scandinavians habitually ridiculed by Garrison Keillor. My parents and I were part of it. It followed a large hippie exodus that started by the mid-seventies. Only a fool would underestimate how crunchy and bleeding-heart the California diaspora has been.

In the absence of these millions of onetime Californians, overwhelmingly driven away by excessive housing costs, it has become dogma in the Democratic Party to imply, if not outright state, that the importation of Latin Americans as their replacements is hella woke. This line of thinking is advanced by dipshits whose soft bigotry prevents them from even guessing how many African-Americans were driven back east in the midst of this same demographic turnover for the same reasons, so of course they have a soft spot for noble savages of variable English proficiency and generally foreign nationality. Everyone in California politics wants to exploit Latinos as an ethnic client base; the Democrats demand their loyalty to whatever weak-ass half-measure market-mediated excuse for social democracy they’re flogging, and the Republicans unctuously ask the top decile or quartile to defect to the right as hardy immigrant entrepreneurs forever grateful to the United States for giving them the opportunity to show how much more employable they are than the native stock. The only reason this year’s Republican gubernatorial candidates don’t do this is that they’re too deeply bigoted to seek any overt association with the non-Asian minorities. This is a garbage process driven by garbage thinking.

None of the four Democratic candidates at the debate Tuesday night took a stand against neoliberalism. Eastin came reasonably close, but she went at it very obliquely and vaguely. Bernie Sanders was a strong second-place finisher in 2016, so this is not just a function of everyone to the left of center in California loving the shit out of the neoliberal order. I was receptive to Republican counterattacks on neoliberalism, but I didn’t hear any, and both of the Republicans sounded like they’d capture and work to death slaves if they were allowed to do so. One of them, John Cox, I think, bragged about how he’d voted for Gary Johnson because he’d disbelieved Trump’s claims of conservatism, i.e., because Trump had shown enthusiasm on the campaign trail for the interests of the working class. Villaraigosa kept spitting out the same brain-dead talking point about how he supports the gig economy and sharing economy of the future. Dude must have been too busy holding a full-time salaried position as the Mayor of Los Angeles to do sub-minimum-wage piece work for Mechanical Turk.

No one who shills for horseshit scams like Uber is actually supporting himself as an Uber driver. Ben Sasse’s bragging about how he goes back to Nebraska and drives for Uber to meet his constituents and get to know their innovative economy is as believable as any other millionaire insisting that his brat is learning the value of hard work and self-reliance by running a lemonade stand in the front yard. The point here is that these assholes are allowed to make up just about anything about their politics, political history, and political theory without anyone interviewing them calling bullshit on assertions that are flagrantly false and out of line.

The debate had the unfortunate appearance of a classic ethnic divide-and-conquer scam. Again, the only reason the Republicans didn’t wallow in this particular fray was that they were too bigoted to even try to pander to the nonwhites. They left this to a Democratic slate made up of an Asian accountant nerd, a female teacher nerd, a greasy Latino influence-peddler who was brought up as assimilated into Anglo culture as any of us, and a slightly less greasy old-line Money Whitey. Strangle me, Schneiderman.

When Villaraigosa spoke of how he’d had to learn Spanish as a teen to facilitate his activism, he was for real; against the odds, that clown’s native language is English. His entire shtick is basically how do you do, fellow Latins. This has some really fucked up implications for Anglo-Latino communal relations, especially as envisioned by our political leaders. Can you imagine how LA’s Westside Jews would react if some guy showed up talking to them in broken Yiddish? They’d probably look at him like he had two heads. If Benjamin Netanyahu came by and lectured them in Hebrew, someone would probably pipe up and tell him, oh, for God’s sake, drop the act, you’re from Philadelphia. It isn’t that there’s anything inherently bad about Hebrew, or Yiddish, or Spanish. The point is that none of these is the Lingua Franca. That’s English, and everyone fucking knows it. Encouraging Latinos not to learn it seems awfully ulterior.

Since we’re already discussing the Jews, for better and worse, let’s compare them to the Asians, specifically the Chinese, who are also a group proficient in shanda fur die goyim stunts. I’m not trying to dog on John Chiang here; he seems all right, to the extent that anyone from his grotesque party can be expected to be all right. That he didn’t sound like he had economically recoverable deposits of facial oil was character enough in a race against Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa, and second-best in a field of six is respectable unless all present are absolute garbage. But let’s not pretend that the overseas Chinese haven’t been bringing some ugly attitudes to California and exacerbating severe social problems that might well attenuate in their absence. It isn’t the Tingirideses who are demanding that the bums all be redlined out of Irvine, although this is English, so yes, that’s the plural. It’s the Money Chinee who are doing that.

And I don’t give a shit if I offend or scandalize them. What’s happening in Irvine, an overwhelmingly Asian city these days, is that they’re acting as an aggressive ethnic and class bloc, drawn disproportionately from immigrants, to keep poor Americans out of a city where they have an inalienable civil right to seek settlement as birthright US citizens. These same ghouls would be demanding that the government round up all the peasants and repatriate them to whatever internal provincial shithole birthed them if they were still living in the old country. Instead, they’re in my country, doing everything they can to dispossess my countrymen for being poor. This is wrong.

Again, this isn’t about John Chiang as their coethnic. Demanding that he do something about a group of racist bourgeois supremacists who raise hell whenever the county proposes siting a homeless shelter in their city would be like some random Chinaman demand that I do something about Harvey Weinstein as my fellow Jew. It isn’t that that motherfucker couldn’t be cause for anti-Semitism, or that I’m not Jewish enough to catch the blowback, but anecdotally, I find that full-blooded Jews are more cognizant of what a shit he is than gentiles, and I certainly have nothing to do with that freak. But the idea that any of us owes respect to a constituency that is acting like an ethnic colonist mob in our country is offensive and absurd. This is the same spirit of colonial aggression that gets overseas Chinese firebombed by the angry ethnic Malays they’ve dispossessed.

And for the love of God, let’s shut the fuck up, now and forevermore, about model minorities. This shit has nothing to do with ethnic comity. What’s actually happening here is that Latin American peasants are being imported as generalist scabs and educated Asians as specialist scabs. I don’t need a hive of clannish bourgeois supremacist shitheads who are scheming to take over entire city governments at the expense of vulnerable Americans to stick around in the interest of cultural exchange; bitch I can make my own hot and sour soup from scratch.

No, I am not a racial bigot. I’m complaining about specific social problems resulting from specific campaigns of bad faith by specific, and often local, constituencies. These include many of California’s premium crackers. Praising Mexicans for fixing us tacos and working harder than Americans is just fucking vile, and I dare say that Cesar Chavez would have been every bit as disgusted as I am by this condescending cultivation of pet scabs.

Are we really going to spend another 150 years as a state serially importing the most desperate and grasping people we can find from the four corners of the earth to serve as scab blocs and then denouncing whoever the hell is still around as a native stock, of whatever ethnic and racial background, for criticizing the resulting social problems and quite reasonably blaming them on interlopers with no civic virtue and a distorted, hostile, exclusive sense of community? If past is prologue, oh hell yes we will. Or maybe we’ll get another forty-year hiatus during which a government actually serving its constituents’ interests stops Stanford and Crocker from importing every surplus Chinese peasant their agents can find.

I have yet to find a proposal to restore California to a state of broad middle-class stability without any hint of nativism, and I don’t see why enfranchised constituents from long-established families and communities shouldn’t be higher priorities for elected officials than insular groups of immigrants who do what they can not to integrate into American society. When push comes to shove, most of this horseshit about multiculturalism and diversity is really just a scam to keep all the different servants around, orchestrated by influential affluent people who do everything they can to shelter and segregate themselves from the foreign hordes they so ostentatiously welcome into the state and the country. Like hell are these fools socializing with kitchen workers in Chinatown or farmworkers in Mecca.

There’s enough constant churn in the California electorate to keep this scam viable. For every normal, integrated, acculturated middle-class family with useful skills that is driven out of the state, a roughly equal number of Mexican peasants and H1B code slaves will be brought in to run the joint, along with a useless-as-all-hell domestic hipster or two to pretend to be employed, employable, and engaged in the work of American cultural continuity. Delaine Eastin’s campaign as the one credible gubernatorial candidate out of six whose public comments are affirmatively intelligent and thoughtful is frankly a higher grade of statewide politics than we could have expected of California, given who keeps showing up to try to hijack it. Thomas Jefferson Cares. That isn’t a sentence; that’s a gubernatorial candidate. The Republicans running this year are too decadent to try to stop hipsters from moving into Midtown Sacramento to be closer to the grilled cheese festival; they’re too entangled with the Mexican day laborer-intersectional construction industry to lift a finger to that scam.

This is why I insist on voting here. I’ll be damned if these shits will drive me out of the electorate of the state where I spent the first ten years of my life. My prospective neighbors in Midtown may not deserve so much civic resolution, but my plants damn well do. Say what you will about California having shitty fiscal stewardship, but never forget that my tax dollars are paying for a top-notch free arboretum, no fence, no wall. Among other things, of course, including the fucking Highway Patrol. But remember this, too: there is no natural law dictating that horticulture worthy of Brazil around the capitol is contingent upon Brazilian socioeconomics throughout the state, and if there is, we can use positive law to repeal it.

I’m not entirely sure that that made sense, but it was far too intelligent for statewide office in California.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Normal police behavior

It is entirely normal for a cop to shoplift a can of dog repellent. It is equally normal for the guy who shoplifts the dog repellent and the hammer to be a full-time cop, not a marginally employed loser at the bottom of the reserve busboy list at Denny’s. If there’s an unidentified violent serial predator prowling the same part of the same county, apparently using advanced police or military tactics, there’s no reason to include the Navy veteran and current police officer who got caught trying to shoplift the dog spray and the hammer from the drugstore, and quietly left the force instead of challenging his termination, among the tens of thousands of persons of interest investigated for the sprees of violent home invasions. Surely there’s an innocent explanation. It’s just something that cops do, like turning into thrice-divorced drunks. Norm Stamper always aspired to retire to the San Juan Islands, grow a beard to defy the grooming standards, and steal hammers and pepper spray from the fucking general store. You know how Mike Royko was always interviewing cops in the hardware aisle while they got caught pocketing things they might use as weapons and then got shitcanned right off the damn force.

Funny thing that they finally caught DeAngelo in an election year, with the current sheriff and district attorney unusually embattled for their complicity in a culture of excessive use of force, including on-duty homicides and aggravated assaults. A month and a half until the election, and they finally haul the bastard downtown. That must be a coincidence. We’d have to don our tin foil hats to think that maybe the sheriff and the DA don’t care about violent cops when they allowed that deputy to go over to his office buddy’s house and cold-cock her insolent teenage son so hard that he needed emergency medical treatment and reconstructive surgery on his face. They certainly wouldn’t want to add the insults of termination and indictment to the injury punchy boi Keith Biggers sustained to his sore wrist; that’d be cruel.

Nah, there’s no way Ann Marie Schubert and Scott Jones were or are thinking about the opportunity to win the admiration of a now-elderly cohort of high-turnout, right-leaning voters in the suburbs at the eleventh hour by finally arresting the guy who terrorized them and their families when they were teenagers and young adults. There is no way that these elected officials are taking electoral politics into account in this, an election year when the DA has just fenced her office building off from the protesters and the Sheriff is being challenged by the jail reform guy who once pulled over a grand theft auto crew on horseback.

It’s impolitic to talk of these things, so let’s talk about something else: how the fuck every police department in Sacramento County looked past Joseph James DeAngelo for barely shy of forty years when he was an erratic local weirdo living squarely in his old hunting grounds and had been booted from a police force one county up the hill for stealing the hammer and the dog spray right at home in Citrus Heights. Let’s talk about how this was the one weird-ass cop terminated for criminal activity who didn’t hit their radar.

Jones and Schubert are surely getting unseemly credit for this conveniently timely arrest. Those crediting them will surely be scandalized to see anyone criticizing them in this matter, let alone questioning their motives. But here’s the fucking thing: these two are highly paid elected officials with a solemn public trust that they won’t uphold. Schubert has been getting harsher public criticism lately for refusing to indict the officers who shot Stephon Clark and cowering behind a fence in her office, but Jones is covering for multiple deputies under his command for their involvement in much more heinous and deliberate violent misconduct. In the course of trying to look up the Keith Biggers case, I came across other cases of serious neglect of inmates’ medical needs in the main jail, custodial deputies abetting inmate-on-inmate assault, and a patrol deputy who habitually batters suspects with his Maglite. Locking Joseph DeAngelo up doesn’t stop Scott Jones from being a chickenfucking derelict of a sheriff. He has a duty to maintain adequate command discipline over his deputies, and he doesn’t fucking do that.

The least anyone can demand of Jones and Schubert, and I mean the very, very least, is a full, nitpicking accounting of absolutely everything the Sacramento County law enforcement apparatus was doing in the East Area Rapist case from DeAngelo’s detention for shoplifting in 1979 until his arrest for murder and rape earlier this month. They’ve got practically a four-decade gap in their investigative record that they have not explained to the public. They have not told the public what the fuck they were doing while this creepy bastard of a disgraced ex-cop was living full-time in their county. They need to explain why they and everyone under them didn’t suspect this fuckhead.

They need to prove that negative. Until they do, they have no business continuing to collect top civil service pay to ostensibly direct work that the unelected career deputies actually doing the work would have no difficulty continuing in their absence. Everyone between at least Sacramento and Nevada City should demand that Jones and Schubert both prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they did their damn jobs.

The Auburn Police Department should be held to the same standard of proof. The Auburn brass concluded without hesitation that DeAngelo’s shoplifting stunt in Citrus Heights was a summary firing offense. They didn’t want that petty criminal weirdo on their force. So far, so good. What they haven’t fucking explained is how they didn’t notice that their former boy had been busted stealing home burglary implements during a massive manhunt for a violent home burglar and also looked kind of like the guys in the composite sketches.

Again, normal police behavior. It was just the officer’s peculiar shopping interest, that’s all. Who among us would judge Tom Bradley for pulling over every time he saw a sale at a five-and-dime and had a few minutes to spare to buy some more socks? Just because he paid for the socks because he was living the California Dream and had the money to show for it doesn’t mean that we should trust him more than his brother officer who shoplifted burglary tools and resembled several most wanted posters. It’s a tough job; we can’t expect all of them to refrain from drinking to excess, having marital problems, or acting like Robert Durst in Wegmans.

Thank you all for your service. Nothing but respect for my law enforcement officers.

Every day is a day of giving for the Dunkin’ Doorman

FGloria in fucking excelsis, Dickinson College will be having some student phone banker cold-call me on Tuesday for its fourth annual “Day of Giving.” Or, in my case, eleventh or so annual year of not giving. I should get a response script ready, something along the lines of fuck you and fuck all y’all for harassing me over the damn phone. Think of it as a life lesson for the young’uns about how scummy jobs SHOULD be unpleasant. These kiddos are obviously involved in some shitty grunt work, and I feel some faint empathy for them as low critters on that gross totem pole, but cold-calling strangers to pester them for donations to a pushy, already overfunded school full of yuppie shitheads should be unpleasant. It’s not like they’re working in an honest field like food service or retail. That’s where it’s wrong for the customer to shit on the grunts if they’re doing a half-decent job. I’m no longer a fucking customer, and cold-calling random people who may or may not have the money or the interest to harden up the Big Dick is never a decent job. #TeshTips: I ain’t got neither no more, cracka.

Fundraising wasn’t always so fucking crass and gross. I’m old enough to remember a time when it was tolerably tactful and considerate. It didn’t always have the feel of a squad of goombahs beating everyone over the head with a shovel.

To this day I’ve never gotten that sense from the fundraising efforts of *MY OTHER OLD SCHOOL*, Lancaster Country Day. The worst thing I can recall to that effect was a rather crass open letter from Mike Mersky enthusing about the great largesse released into our fine institution by the recent death of a major benefactress. This letter was a bit gross, but Country Day got its four and a half mil or whatever, and Mersky mercifully shut his damn mouth.

In the time that I’ve been involved with Dickinson, its fundraising stance has basically been the eternal recitation of that fucking letter, ne’er the foul flame to dim. Even so, the school has ventured into forms of individual and crowd manipulation that are novel even by the worst excesses of the Durden years. The dedicated days of giving, by whatever name some asshole decides to give them, are more numerous and aggressive than they were. The upcoming Day of Giving includes, according to an e-mail I was sent, two separate two-hour challenges to unlock matching gifts and three other day-long challenges to unlock additional matching gifts. Keep in mind that the Dickinson College endowment was worth over $400m last I checked when I tell you that the grand total in matching gifts that we will be able to unlock if we win all these ridiculous races is $80,000. That’s it. $80k. If you’ve got an airsickness bag within reach, consider that the total pot waiting at the end of the rainbow if we band together to win the “Rush Hour Challenge” between 0700 and 0900 EDT, and the “Power Lunch Challenge” between 1200 and 1400, is $20k. $10k a pop if we all keep our eyes on these beautiful prizes, baby.

That’s the kind of money you’d get for burning down your fucking trailer. I mean the entire amount. The average self-respecting Adirondack Po’ Whitey isn’t about to light that match for a mere twenty grand. We’re talking about North English and Canuck losers who never leave town and let their dogs fuck in the front yard by the state highway all day long and still know how to collect more from a strategically insured trailer fire than Baltimore’s leading commercial real estate brokers are willing to front in challenge grants for their prestigious undergraduate alma mater. Cousin Gigolo’s mother, the same hard old bull dyke who called my mother with a sob story about how she’d just moved to Fort Myers to shack up with a lady she’d met online and had but $5.90 in her bank account, never took her own father to the bank for less than ten grand a trip. That was the story, at least: she’d tell him that she was taking him to Florida, he’d defiantly sit down on the lawn in front of his house, she’d berate him until he finally got up and let her drive them to Glens Falls National for a counter withdrawal on their way south, and she’d compromise on the Florida part of the trip by driving him right back home.

We’re talking about a lady whose known prostitute of a son is too bashful to demand a ten spot as his stud fee, I mean, shit, she’s letting me stay in this crappy apartment just for banging her. Nah, for all I know Cousin Gigolo sob-talks walking-around money out of his landlady in a less direct fashion; whatever works, etc. Regardless, his mother, whose cash on hand has been below six dollars as an adult, got as much per bank errand out of her father, a notorious government cheese claimant, as the total at stake in each of four of the five matching-gift challenges that Dickinson is dangling in front of us to motivate us to generosity.

You know what? Fuck that to hell. Get out of my fucking face with that horseshit. I’m not dancing for nickels like one of Cher’s Gypsies for any of these shitheads. I write this having just been out on Foresthill Road scavenging deposit bottles again. The point is that that’s a cash stream that I get to keep. That’s for my own damn self. I’m not getting guilted into “unlocking” a pissant little pot of matching funds equivalent to about two months of Margee Ensign’s salary. Hound someone else for that shit. Either Jennifer Ward Reynolds gives Dickinson the money or she doesn’t. My diploma does me jack shit on a good day, so why the fuck is that my concern?

Geez, even if I were getting something back professionally and socioeconomically from that deal I don’t think I’d care to be bothered with stories about how we need only ten more pledges from all of you to unlock this ten thousand-dollar matching gift. I’ve never given NPR the last thin dime I schnorred off George Benson, and I still turn the fucking radio off when those assholes are hawking their pint glasses with the portraits of Devin Yamanaka and Randol White People.

Well, now, how DOES that line keep showing up here? These development office asshats just have to act like Jack Bauer has only until the bottom of the hour to find the terrorist bagman, including commercial breaks, and something bad will happen if he doesn’t. Yeah, in this case “bad” means that some rich bitch doesn’t give our dear fucking alma mater another lump-sum gift of ten grand right here, right now. Besides, how many of these influence peddlers actually get all like, fuck you, gimme back my fucking stuff, OJ in Las Vegas en route to Winnemucca style, when they can quietly sign over that same kitty to Noble Dickinsonia regardless of the outcome for the same “charitable” deduction on their income taxes, the same recognition, and the same in-kind consideration when they need their skids greased?

I could do without these clown-ass fuckjobs blowing sunshine up my ass, and everyone else’s, about what the pot they’re dangling in front of our faces will be worth to its intended recipients and the actual conditions of its donation. They’re deliberately running a cheap scam on everyone who’s too lazy or gullible to do the arithmetic by throwing numbers at us without context and assuming that we’ll be amazed. I’m not the fucking retard who doesn’t divide by 2,500 and 365 to get an idea of what shit’s actually worth. The entire amount Dickinson raised with this same one-day stunt last year worked out to about a dollar per enrolled student per calendar day for the calendar year. Bump it up quick and dirty to two bucks a day per day for the academic year and, don’tcha fucking know, it’s still jack shit. I’ve studied the humanities deeply enough not to need any more math than that. That’s the kind of money that is regarded as scandalous deep poverty in parts of the world with dramatically lower costs of living than the United States.

The psychology behind this scam is something that should embarrass every college graduate. We’re expected to have a rush of feeling thinking about what we’d do with that pot of money if we had it to ourselves. That’s interesting, since the amounts that we’re “unlocking” are to be divided in some fashion among a student body of over two thousand. We might as well wonder why New York City has a larger municipal budget than Crete, Nebraska, where the California Zephyr rolls by the Dairy Queen at 60 miles an hour at two in the morning. One would hope that a bunch of brain geniuses like us would recognize that Dickinson College has a larger operating budget than the median household and that maybe the eighty grand in matching gifts that we’re being berated to trigger by doing a song and dance on command is the per-capita equivalent of what I gross in half an hour by picking up Modelo tall boy empties off the roadside.

No shit I’d be grateful if someone gave me $10k in a lump sum out of the blue and would be able to do something worthwhile with it. When my parents gave me $15k and Progressive gave me $3,600 to replace my totaled Civic, I got a new car and earned $35 in interest over the next year, and that was without constant extreme frugality. But I’m not a fucking liberal arts college.

Like hell am I about to perform like a fucking circus animal over several trifling amounts of money for a school that doesn’t need any of it. I’d steward any amount up to and beyond the $80k in matching gifts that are supposedly at stake next week better than Dickinson will, and I’d be more grateful for it. An institution with several hundred million in the bank is trying to get its entire donor pool to perform on command for an additional million or less, the crucial portion of that being only $80k. It’s rather like Jeff Bezos rewarding employees who live in tents and unheated trailers with cookies for winning “Power Hour.” Saturday night Rick Astley power hour was all right, but it’s a bright red flag when that sort of language creeps into fundraising or business, especially coming from bigtime organizations. Anyone deploying cheap psych-motivational tricks in that fashion has all the combined good repute of Graham Spanier and Radovan Karadzic. WE ARE!

Uh, genocide, and I’ve never heard of shampoo?

This is why I should be flying a sign at the rest area right now. I reckon I’ve already done more this week to abate invasive weeds and pick up trash off the roadside than Bill Durden has done all year, and I’m not all up in anyone’s face at Dickinson demanding money. I pick pennies up off the sidewalk because they’re worth something, so, yeah, I’d say I know the value of $80,000. So do our North Country firebug friends from above. I wouldn’t put it past all of them to take out six-figure property insurance policies on trailers that any of you would agree ought to be burned to the ground. As they always said in Soviet Russia, insurance fraud is the crime that pays for YOU!

Then again, Dickinson College runs frauds that don’t require it to pay a single month’s premium. So did Melissa Ann Shepard. So, I suppose, does Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes to this day. She isn’t the only one to know that the internet abides and facilitates all possible vices in our wondrous time. Call the Halifax Police into the library if you don’t like that. Dickinson, remember, still has me on its fucking e-mail list. That’s the only reason I was provoked to barf out any of this shit in the first place.

GO DIPLOMATS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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