You ain’t black

The days last for months. It took something like 24 or 36 hours for Joe Biden to follow up Katha Pollitt’s boiled baby outburst with his own, in which he accused a black radio host to his face of being Rachel Dolezal. The conditional clauses don’t matter: “you ain’t black” is one of the most arrogant and inflammatory things a white person can say to a black person. The conditional clause in this case was a spicy purse hot sauce meataball, a testy proclamation that negritude is conditional on a vote for Joe Biden. Vote for me, Rachel, you phony bitch.

I’ve edited for clarity.

Biden and his campaign are preternaturally good at wresting defeat from the jaws of victory. They’re fucking idiot-savants. They’re challenging an incumbent who is wearing out his welcome with the American public by bullshitting us all about a global pandemic, so they mouth off about how it’s okay if their guy is a rapist or a baby eater and about how they decide who is and is not black on the criterion of submission to their political patronage. The Democratic Plantation memes rattling around in the Republican arsenal are all too apt.

Biden made sure to roll around in the bed he’d freshly shit by calling into a Black Chambers of Commerce conference to say that he did not take African-Americans’ votes for granted and had been misunderstood. He’d been understood perfectly. He had made himself perfectly clear. He expected every black voter to turn out for him in lockstep. He would not stoop so low as to defend or explain his own record or answer questions about it or listen to criticism, all of this during a campaign interview he had agreed to do.

His grievance was simple: an uppity black guy had disrespected him to his face.

He would not take it, after all he had done for Them. It was the same mix of useless paternalism, belittling, hostility, and menacing we’ve had since Jamestown and in earnest since Bacon’s Rebellion. The early planter class was terrible to white indentured servants, too, but it strategically hardened the racial lines to deter future Bacons and their foot soldiers from being uppity. It doesn’t take an intimate familiarity with the particulars to know that what Joe did was outrageous, and Joe knew it.

When Trump goes honey badger at press conferences or on Twitter, he has the maturity to stand his ground honorably. He does not grovel with insultingly fake apologies to those he has just gotten done deliberately attacking. The last thing Biden needs right now is a bad rap for being a sore loser, but that’s exactly what he is. He’s rude and callous like Trump, but in much less entertaining and more arrogant ways, and he has the dishonor to get up in other people’s faces with fighting words and then, the moment the heat hits him, scurry for cover behind the sacrosanct Beltway norm of the “apology” for “misunderstandings,” which ordinary Americans living in normal parts of the country despise. He plays dirty and then waxes eloquent about his respect for the rules.

Biden is an idiot, a thug, and a scoundrel. The only halfway credible argument in circulation for him is that he’s an Upper South ex-segregationist with a hearty dose of residual prejudices whose idea of a gentleman is Strom Thurmond, not Adolf Hitler. Strom was, of course, the John the Baptist to Joseph’s Jesus, making straight the path out to lunch. Joe is shockingly meanspirited and treacherous. He’s always been prone to uncouth, uncalled-for racial comments that an official of any class holding his offices would have the decorum not to utter in public. He was one of the most crooked members of Congress and one of the most reactionary members of his Democratic delegations. He oozes used car dealer energy.

This is not the guy to beat the Republican folk devil. His capacity to erode his own polling leads into lags is bottomless. He’s a shameless serial liar propped up by a flimsy latticework of bogus mythology: the ordinary guy who spent, like, four hours a day on the train, and not as a conductor; the workaday, down-to-earth fellow from the neighborhood; the public-spirited policy wonk; the consummate gentleman of intelligence and class, here to do battle with that fucking moron. None of this shit is true. To the extent he’s a wonk, it’s in service of the worst goals. He’s been great at throwing people into dungeons and slave labor camps for nonviolent drug offenses and trapping people in debt peonage. This is what he does for his constituents. Charlemagne tha God challenged him on these points and gave him the opportunity to defend himself, so he spat racist fighting words. People who’ve watched the entire interview say he was pulling that shit the whole time, although not as dramatically as he did at the end.

What a coda. He’s Anthony Weiner, but for personal outbursts, not dick pics.

Many observers, including some very astute ones, think he can recover from this crash and safeguard his nomination. My assumption when I went to bed with the news of it was that Biden was toast. Calling a popular syndicated black radio host a fake black had to be the only nail his coffin needed. The Democratic kingmakers had to take this as a breach of their firewall from within and a comment too egregious to let his campaign stand. I got to sleep a bit after nine in the morning, and I was wired and almost delirious by the time I learned of the scandal. I wasn’t thinking straight. The Democratic Party isn’t run by strategists; it’s run by out-of-touch idiots who take themselves for master strategists and tacticians because they surround themselves with courtiers who don’t talk back and are also out of touch. Of course they still think Biden is unbeatably strong. At least they’re still unified enough to keep up the appearance.

I was wired enough from this horseshit that I looked up the nigger wop incident. That’s the one where renowned Italian-American Andrew Cuomo told a radio interviewer that “they” “called us nigger wops.” Grease weasel that he is, he added a longwinded caveat that he was just quoting the New York Times.

When I heard about that particular spicy meataball at the time, I was confused as to who was calling whom a nigger wop. It sounded awfully ugly and archaic for the upbringing of young Christopher and Andrew. This was a second-generation New York State governor speaking, a guy born in 1957,  at the very peak of the Baby Boom. The Italians were already turning white. Were neighborhood bullies really walking around saying shit like that to a political bigshot’s kids in 1970?

They were not. The bedtime reading I did on the incident indicated that the language Cuomo had quoted on the air was nothing that he’d heard. It was more like what they called Sacco and Vanzetti.

He made the comment on an interview for Columbus Day, the day when we all agonize over the Solomonic choice between honoring wops and dishonoring redskins or honoring redskins and dishonoring wops. What the fuck else am I supposed to say about that? We reserve a high civic holiday in the mid-fall for an annual national bum fight between the Italians and the Indians.

The transfixingly hilarious thing about the interview, though, is that it was with Alan Chartock. Chartock emanates the most powerful high stoic New York Book Jew energy. I hear him on WAMC from time to time when I’m back east. He’s the mensch of a Jewish grandfather who will put the whole family to sleep just about as fast as the agriculture committee of the New Zealand Parliament. The greasy Italian sitting Governor of the State of New York went on his radio show and said “nigger wops.” It might as well have been a Terry Gross interview with Beavis and Butthead.

Where the hell do they find these putzes? This is a man whose father was one of the staunchest and most principled death penalty abolitionists of his time as governor, and there he is, following in dad’s footsteps by going into a public radio studio and stepping on his own dick. It was all to explain what it is to be Italian, eyyy, like, ya godda learn to cooka da mannicot and da spicy raviol and simma low widda glassa De Wine, Murray, and next thing you know, badabing, you’s bangin’ da wop broad and off da gefiltefish.

Fuck, never mind that. The Jewish side of that family is Chuck Schumer.

Idpol is trash. We’re cursed. It should come as no surprise that jobs chattering about ethnic identities and their meanings are attractive nuisances for the unemployable. Maybe we can get Joe Plagiarism and Brett Michael on the line to discuss what it means to be Irish. It would be fascinating to hear their comments about the names “they” “called us.”

Meanwhile I know how to do my own laundry and cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping and ride transit buses. I get the feeling, though, that the presidential politics in this country are not meant to speak to or serve losers like me. Fat Cracka ain’t black, neither. The Isaac Chotiner of the Top Forty Talk format, however, appears to be.

Eatin’ good in the neighborhood

We’ve got mail:

Good afternoon tenants,

Lately we have noticed that people have been leaving food items by the dumpster, and now starting on top of the mail box. We ask that you please stop doing that, as this is adding to the current issues we are having with the homeless coming into the property. For those that may not be aware, we have had recent break-ins into cars as well as items going missing from the property.

I understand you may be doing this to help the ones in need during these difficult times, however if you would like to donate food, clothing items, etc., please take it to the local food bank/charities.

Thank you for your understanding.

I can’t object. I really can’t. To any of it: the letter, the food by the dumpster. The onsite manager who e-mailed us this letter is wonderful. She’s in a bad spot, we’re in a bad spot as her tenants, the neighborhood homeless are in a terrible spot, and one of our city councilors used to go around stealing gear from encampments on vigilante missions back when he was a cop. He bragged about it at a social services working group meeting. He was a Santa Rosa Police Department liaison. Multiple committee members filed official complaints under their own names. Nothing happened.

It doesn’t take much attention to look at the city council during meetings and guess that Ernesto Olivares is the cop. His strain of bumbaiting bourgeois supremacy runs deep around here. He’s far from the worst cop around here, by the way. The SRPD’s rank and file supposedly can’t stand the Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies. The assistant district attorneys are so insane that judges tell them to shut up right now in camera.

Last fall we had the shit show on the Joe Rodota Trail. A veterinarian’s wife told me that the trail was an absolute clusterfuck, totally out of control. /Borat Voice/ My part-time wife told me that it was a self-governing community, with zoning expertly triaged by need and social function. California has Pervert’s Flat in rural Antioch for the Megan’s Law cases; Santa Rosa has the hills above Bennett Valley.

The vet and his wife weren’t the most obnoxious Americans I met in New Zealand. The expat Americans working in the service sector were great. I didn’t encounter any American shitheads in Australia. I don’t remember encountering Americans at all. The security guy at the Hobart Airport, an absolute sweetheart who hugged my mom after she told him that he and his colleagues were nicer than their American counterparts, assumed we were flying home to Adelaide. When my mom described where she and my dad live in the Adirondacks, his eyes lit up. “Noooice!”

Depending. I’m glad my mom came down with the Dread Ailment or whatever she caught in New Zealand, not back home in the States. Yes, that one. She suspects she had it months before the Wuhan lockdown, let alone the Kiwi lockdown. There’s a mayor in New Jersey who thinks he caught it around the same time, although around town, not around Grammers. There were no horseshit marketeering or HR signs on the hospital campuses in Invercargill and Queenstown. My mom received excellent care at Southland and at Lakes District. Both hospitals were modest but reassuring inside. The outdoor energy at Southland was exactly what I needed. My mom loved watching the Air New Zealand A320s take off while she sat in the day room on the ward at Lakes. She likes busy Maori liveries much more than I do.

The veterinarian fumed to us about the wretchedness of Invercargill. I liked the town all right when my dad and I got there. I’m absolutely serious that Southland Hospital was my favorite part. There’s no point to traveling so far afield and not getting a passing idea of what the hell is actually up in the host communities. I guess I’m in the travelers’ minority on that one fml, but shit, doc, Fat Cracka’s got room for another mince pie, in the suitcase if need be.

The vet told us he was the highest rated in the county. I looked him up a few months later, and I think I identified him, although I’m not pawsitive. Good Lord there’s something wrong with me. We met him and his wife at dinner. The guy who’d built the house back in the Gilded Age got into Parliament, got into debt, and fatally shot himself in his office in Wellington. One of our servers that night chuckled when I told him that I’d had classmates fly over to study a broad–as /Borat Voice/ my part-time wife says, “They’re fine from the neck down”–and return stateside complaining about not being able to afford heat for their flats; students are always having trouble getting by, he said. In retrospect, I think I heard the heat quota story from a tradcon chick who’d studied in Dublin. Most of the complaints I heard about foreign bathrooms started, verbatim, “One time when I was in England, and I had to take a shit….”

I would rather have heard these stories from the chick who went to Dublin, but this is not a world that caters to our preferences. We aren’t all veterinarians.

A full week in Queenstown more than convinced me that New Zealand has a tourism problem. I guess it doesn’t so much this year lol, but strange times live through us as much as we live through them. I do, however, think I paid enough attention on our way through drive-through country and on my solo excursions into the working parts of Adelaide and Christchurch to accurately assess some of the shit that any country harboring it tries to sweep behind the curtains, and the impressive thing is that none of it looked really bad. The equivalents in the US are terrible. If I get back to Australia–not ruling it in, but not ruling it out–I’m planning to visit Macquarie Fields. I looked at some satellite and street view images of it, and I couldn’t believe that that, of all neighborhoods, was rumored to be one of the roughest parts of Sydney. It’s like going to 20th and Clement and being told, authoritatively, this is the worst corner in San Francisco.

I saw a handful of homeless in Sydney and I think Adelaide. On equivalent transects of Los Angeles or Sacramento I’d have seen dozens, probably hundreds. I haven’t done a deep or broad survey of Australian housing, but from what I’ve read and seen I get the feeling that there is nothing along the lines of Skid Row or the Tenderloin or Near North Sacramento in the whole country. The only city where I’d expect it is Darwin, and I’ve heard about extreme squalor and poverty in the deep outback, overwhelmingly in Aboriginal communities, but we’ve got the Rez, the Ozarks, the deep Appalachians, the Black Belt. Joe Schillaci will see you on the scene of that 31 in the Pork-n-Beans.

This really is a shithole country. What other conclusion is hanging around for us? What are we supposed to make of Australia’s most dire social problems being concentrated in a territory whose population rivals those of Buffalo and Reno? Australia’s superannuation scheme is a racket, but Statewide Super had free wi-fi in Glenelg when I went out on the tram. I recall getting straight on, with no commercial, and there was definitely no e-mail tracking like the DFW does for passengers who are already paying facility fees through their airfare.

Little things like that, one after another, array themselves to paint a damning picture. We have 24/7 staffing at more of our rural gas stations, but they have a working medical system. These probably aren’t mutually exclusive, this probably isn’t a case of one or the other, no mix-and-match, but we shouldn’t have to deliberate and weigh the tradeoffs. We should be able to come right out and choose.

Guess we chose wrong. Fuck.

Back home we have so, so many places where we get assaulted by the squalor and the dysfunction every time we step outside. We can’t keep it out of the fanciest recreation districts in our cities. The passenger rail terminals in Los Angeles and Chicago officially close down for a few hours overnight, for no credible reason but to ward off the homeless. Rent-a-cops make the rounds at LA Union Station every night to do the bums’ rush. As of a year or two ago the Portland Greyhound terminal had regular DAYTIME closure hours. A quick look outside shows why: skid row. It spreads: Pioneer Square; Pershing Square; Venice and Santa Monica; just about everywhere else in the Los Angeles Basin; all through and around the Gaslamp Quarter and the Convention Center; all over San Francisco; long stretches of El Camino; Midtown Sacramento and downtown Reno; across otherwise well-maintained parts of downtown Seattle like so much maritime moss, a dude lying face-down in the grass on a freeway embankment in his underwear on a near-freezing winter morning, 911 refusing to dispatch an ambulance because the caller reports that he’s breathing.

How many billions of dollars do we have to spend on cops and spooks and naval combat vessels that dent and fighter jets that dissolve in the rain and serial deathtraps like the Osprey whose crews take flight only because they’d be court-martialed otherwise, before we get our shit together on services that we actually need to survive as a society? We’re operating at a level on Maslow’s hierarchy below normal, healthy function and way below prosperity. What does it take to walk out onto the streets from the highrise hotels in the San Francisco Financial District or downtown LA or San Diego, or out of the investment banking towers of Lower Manhattan into the visibly disintegrating subways, and come away unshaken in the assumption that the governments responsible lavish too little on private redevelopment hustlers and too much on social services and public works? What the hell are we using? Grey Goose? Freebase? Xanax? Build-your-own?

The moneyed sorts who do business and leisure in our fancy neighborhoods are short on empaths and long on psychopaths–they are not, regardless of their protestations, liberal–but it’s incomprehensible how they don’t walk through the local hood and straight away see serious problems demanding serious solutions. Most of them aren’t even cutting off the nose to spite the face. They’re in our dynamic, forward-thinking cities with two thirds of the GDP precisely because they want to make bank and live well or cash in what some of what they’ve already amassed to live well. These are, after all, people who have done more than their share of international travel.

It’s bizarre that they don’t expect the same public goods and services that Europeans, Japanese, urban Chinese, and so forth take for granted and demand when not granted: water fountains; well-maintained public restrooms that encourage users to clean up after themselves and have janitors on call in case they don’t; not having to dodge films of piss and piles of shit on the sidewalk left by the desperate, the mentally ill, and the homeless; not having street people lying around semiresponsive and stewing in two weeks’ worth of bodily filth because they have nowhere decent to go; the ability to walk into an intact, fully functioning rapid transit station and promptly board a tolerably clean train that works. It’s bizarre, for that matter, that the horseshit security theater of the TSA and its contractors hasn’t come under sustained and withering attack from travelers who have cleared security at domestic airport terminals in Australia and not gotten into crashes on Qantas. Airport stories out of Mexico include employee cadences of “Please/ do not/ take off/ your shoes.”

Nothing here fucking works. What’s crazy is that things don’t work in cities teeming with affluent professionals whose business takes them to places like Frankfurt, London, and Hong Kong. These same cities teem with foreigners from every corner of the world, many of them from highly developed and well-run cities abroad. It’s surreal to imagine what it must be like to relocate from inner-city Sydney or Adelaide, for example, as an occasional to regular train rider, and to arrive in Manhattan, the nerve center of the international financial system, the biggest and proudest city in the global imperial center, on a filthy, ramshackle train serving a subway station with water pouring in through a gash in the wall.

Let’s assume, again, that the Millennial Business Success Spawn are looking to get rich, the tourists to luxuriate, and the conventioneers to get rich or learn things or hang out. They’re all looking, now or later or both, for a good quality of life. Reconcile this with decades of intensifying threats to the personal safety and welfare of the general public, threats now aggressively spreading into neighborhoods frequented or inhabited by the rich and the powerful. The “revitalization” campaigns proceed apace, in Hudson Yards, Pilsen, the SoMa, the outskirts of the USC campus, and so forth, but everything around them is falling apart.

Deluxe condominiums are sold and occupied in a downtown tower that is somehow, despite one of the most process-oriented city governments on earth and a host state historically home to some of the world’s leading engineering brain trusts, listing from its foundation on up with the floors very noticeably off-level. A new bridge span, a seven- or ten-minute drive away in light traffic, is built with overseas steel that the highway department is concerned has not passed inspection. These edifices are located in a world-renowned earthquake zone.

A few hours away by plane, the mayor for some damn reason, probably soft ethnic cleansing, or maybe just cruelty, arbitrarily closed dozens of neighborhood schools in ways that forced minors to cross through rival gang territory twice a day. In city after city, millions of dollars gush into the guard labor apparatus, billions in the national aggregate, to issue citations and effect bench warrant arrests over shit like $2.75 fare jumps. The NYPD excels at this. It has the same jurisdiction as the elected governments that tried to give Jeff Bezos hundreds of millions of dollars in a single consolidated package to build a megaoffice that would turn the already snarled streets fubar, until their constituents made it clear that the incumbents pushing that crap would have to find new jobs, or hobbies, if they succeeded.

They always could have talked to Matt Lauer.

The retention of violently juiced-up cops who ride around poor minority neighborhoods jumping out of vans and throwing groups of peaceable teenagers up against the nearest wall makes some sense, although not much, in the context of Greek Life business elites who abuse cocaine. It’s fairly common for the same aspiring masters of the universe never to have lived in the real world of laundromats, slumlords, crosstown bus lines through the ghetto, and sometimes even DIY grocery shopping and home laundry. From where you’re sitting right now, there’s sure to be an above above the above.

There’s no reason that sheltered rich assholes with reactionary views they usually keep to themselves or their close friends for business reasons–that’s actually asking quite a bit, as leaks from many of our elite circles regularly show–take the cops for their loyal buddies or mercenaries. American cops get away with shit that neighborhood crew bosses would bring to an immediate stop in the Crips, the Bloods, or the Latin prison gangs, but it’s been said before: lighter shade of blue, no cross, no shield. Norm Stamper, I think it was, divided American police misconduct into three main spheres: corruption, brutality, and incompetence. They’re all wicked valid, Mak; that’s why your awe stayeff sayagent. Between the NOPD’s who dat throw your ass on the floor in a jumble for dissing the jambalaya private details, the Dirty Thirty, the jumpout squads, the Ramparts snort-n-sell ring, Homan Square, the other Mark with the glove on the Westside and without it on 77th Street, Ferguson, the DEA’s cash grab crews, HSI’s inconsistent policies on sex with suspected trafficking victims, Daniel Holtzclaw’s personal off-duty policies, and the widespread anabolic steroid use on police forces across the country, nobody should trust the police a second longer than the nearest cops appear to be holding it together in a non-criminal capacity.

This list is not exhaustive. I omitted other cops.

It’s usually feasible for a portion of a society to live off the avails of its neighbors’ labor. We’re much closer to a scenario in which everybody’s trying to rob, extort, blackmail, bribe, or defraud everybody else for a living. Hilariously, this is why Olivia Jade Gianulli’s parents had to pay Rick Singer to bribe USC. Their daughter, already a socioeconomically successful and connected celebrity, was really looking forward to, like, partying and going to games. Kid: the only reason they’ll try to bar the door against you is because you’re the other OJ. This is the College of Montepuliafito, girl. Chill.

If we look at the top, hardly a soul is doing a thing that’s worthwhile, and few are doing anything interesting. Jeff Bezos is a monster who smiles while his warehouse grunts soil their adult diapers and pee in bottles next to parades of customer packages. Elon Musk is an acutely coked-up megalomaniac who bribed and bullied his way into positions as a named founder and flips his shit at anybody who expresses or shows expertise exceeding his own in any field, notably including the British expatriate caver he called a pedophile for warning that his submarine wouldn’t work to rescue that group of boys and their chaperones from a Thai cave that he knew better than anybody else. The fuck are the Kardashians doing? Dad was a lawyer, at least. Another connection to the Original Juice: how bow dah. Bruce Jenner? Excuse me, Caitlyn? I mean, Brutlin? There are some extremely weird and unhealthy family dynamics in that whole deal.

I often ponder what it means that the Amish are cutting hay, Japanese smallholders with quarter-acre plots in the path of the second runway at Narita are growing rice by hand when they aren’t going at the riot police with pitchforks, Chinese researchers are doing advanced biotherapeutics research (and, uh, chuman work with that Yankee creep), the Germans and the Swiss are still machining ultraprecision gears and measuring devices and shit, and a whole lot of us are over here crashing international financial markets, swindling the poor and the middling out of their houses, and lounging around with our thumbs up our asses while we venerate that troupe of attention-whoring freaks. Or Musk or Bezos or any of our other famous crooks, blowhards, and frauds. We hear, from people claiming great political authority, that Nancy Pelosi is an indispensable member of the center-left. Gavin Newsom is marginal and modestly effectual among elected Democrats for coordinating one of the best responses to the Dread Ailment in the country, while Fancy Nancy is a champion advocate for preemptively capitulating to Mitch McConnell and standing in front of a chest full of $10/lb. artisanal gelati while her Michael Jackson-looking face dribbles off in real time.

That’s cool. It’s great to see that actions inform reputations and that we’re living abundantly in the observable, real world of real lives and real happenings. I meant to mention: I’ve been in bed with multiple Borgia mistresses on the Neapolitan waterfront all night and also colocating to an onsen full of blissfully half-awake capybaras and baboons on the slopes of Mount Fuji, because these are also true things that happened.

The psychosis in this country is unbelievably prolific and pervasive. It’s almost impossible to find anyone in a position of power or wealth who isn’t afflicted. Tom Steyer appears to be one, but his presidential campaign flopped and he threw in the towel after South Carolina. The heir apparent to Her mantle–this is already going just great–is a manifestly brain-damaged bully and phony who was forced out of the running in 1988 for plagiarizing his speeches and who habitually lies about his legislative record, his class background, the extent of his personal wealth, what he earned as a young lawyer in Wilmington, and his scholarship status and class standing in law school. The new rape accusation, because we just knew this guy would be a pervert we’ve covered extensively for putting his hands and nose all over everything that moves, has the ‘liberal” chattering classes in the throes of a normal one. Katha Pollitt would vote for Joe Biden even if he boiled and ate babies. Whoa, bitch: sit the fuck down and take your lorazepam. This is not good, to be saying that just because the incumbent is a loudmouth and a shitposter.

Yes, many less prominent, socially engaged, and influential people have psychotic parasocial relationships with Donald Trump. So what? They may have dysfunctional parasocial relationships over the computer with catfish drones working for the Kremlin in satellite cube farms. So what? We are not a society that visits its shut-ins. Do we sound Amish?

The hope for a better tomorrow rests, amazingly, with the Trump campaign. This is an extremely relative statement. It took rampant corruption and sclerosis to get him into office and more yet to populate his cabinet and staff with its trail mix of relatives, cronies, family retainers, movement conservative creeps, hardline nativist nuts, and evangelical end times Looney Toons. It’s some ridiculously dysfunctional shit, and the more competent it is, the scarier. But the Donald understands communication, not just on a social level but on something like a spiritual, mystical level. Most of it is bullshit, but Biden is an incorrigible bullshitter, too, and he has no spiritual range or depth.

Trump’s campaign has a positive, affirmative vision. For the most part it’s a terrible one, and that old-time Republican nihilism is always boiling just below the surface, but he offers reasons to vote FOR him. Biden and his team are flailing about grasping for reasons to vote AGAINST Trump. If they had so much as a platform they believed in themselves they wouldn’t have the likes of former Nation writers striking child sacrifice and cannibalism as disqualifying factors for the presidency. A normal, well-adjusted voter hearing that the ghost of Jeffrey Dahmer is a respectable Democratic candidate for the presidency, and in fact a crucial one should Joe Biden kick the bucket between now and November, would vote Republican. Nah, lady; Jeff, he ain’t it. Goes for the other pervert with the island and all the rich friends, too.

Take it from a man who prays: thinking informs argumentation, but argumentation absolutely informs thinking. This goes even for prayers as simple as the liturgical Catholic grace (or, as Protestants call it, Oh, it’s over?). I could bog down in a daybreak lay missive about the power of the Rosary, or other spiritual shit that will Men’s Warehouse guarantee to bog me down because that’s exactly what it always does (sample search terms: “intercessor”; “St. Richard Russell”), but [indefinite blank period of the mind, on the night shift (on the night shift)] as one of our best confessors and preachers told us, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” That’s clumsy and off-point for where I’m trying to take this bitch, too reductive and corporeal, somehow, but he’s right. Having a full-blown public mental breakdown over a public official being hella rude (which, as the records of every predecessor through Reagan show, is what drives this nonsense) and reacting by blurting out that cooking and cannibalizing babies would be an improvement over a guy who now draws a federal salary to be a drama queen leads to a greater freakout, which leads to more invitations to insurgent partisan rape, to a more intense freakout, and frankly we’re deep into the realm of the mad by the time we raise the specter of boiling babies.

Let’s pause to reflect on the matter of a well-known, well-established, basically well-respected author going on the record to declare that Donald Trump is worse than a hypothetical baby cannibal. I mentioned Dahmer because Pollitt invited us into his wheelhouse for a voyage none of us wanted but all of us must make. Nah, go back to Dubai Porta Potty or the Levine shit if it’s less disturbing; I don’t mind. I’m done repeating it for a sentence or two, but that statement is not hyperbole. Go to the far side of hyperbole and it’s still beyond the horizon. That’s an utterance that is inevitably, prima facie an effect and a cause of major mental illness. Most people would think about crossing the street if they heard a passerby speaking like that. It’s more troubling as a cause because it aggravates the most destructive ideation and, worse for bystanders, proliferates it into the community. It’s ill-advised to read lines of that nature as an actor with on-demand psychiatric support. This is definitively not the ideation or the language of a person we want interacting with others below the scope of practice of a psych tech at the moment.

Are we still concerned that Grandma thinks Trump is personally looking out for her, like Jesus but also Caesar, and enjoys messaging with her special Russian computer friends? This wack-ass talk is on course to make the Democrats shit the bed with the devout, even with a loud cradle Catholic of some credible pro-life sentiment and background at the head of the ticket. They’re already compromised on matters of religious belief and practice just by virtue (sic) of holding it in such obvious contempt. Their opponent, meanwhile, has made common cause with religious busybodies and has his own inchoate but irrepressible spirtual inclinations. Howdy Modi! I love the Hindu! Can you believe how many gods you could find in the virus? Panpsychism. Phenomenal. You love to see it.

A guy like Trump doesn’t have to seem coherent or even in his right mind to seem human and reachable. He could have a new astral projection every minute with a 50% false positive rate and still be more spiritually grounded than Joe Biden or most of the rest of the Democratic A List. Voters notice. It doesn’t have to be conscious to have a powerful effect. The electorate is maybe 1% Data, 19% Spock, and 80% Captain Kirk. I pulled the numbers out of my ass, but not entirely. I don’t think you want to know about my sleep schedule in this, our time of plague. Heh heh heh heh, I said “ass, but.” Huh huh.

Then again, Biden is leading Trump in the swing state polls, Trump is wearing out his welcome with the flimflamming over the Ailment, and lead poisoning is not confined to the hard right. Biden does convey a probably bogus but oddly cloying emotionality, when he’s lucid enough for emotions at all.

That’s a pile of verbiage about a pile of horseshit that serves greatly to distract American voters from things that actually matter, like homelessness. Again, we are not having a sane one. That’s a national scandal and tragedy that every president starting with Reagan has addressed by sucking his own cock. Reagan released the inpatient insane from the state hospitals without community support as governor, then trashed the economy for working people as president. The Bushes didn’t do much about homelessness, except to tangentially aggravate it in the same fashion as Reagan. Clinton was on the scene for a Twilight Zone incident in which a homeless person froze to death in a bus shelter across the street from the HUD headquarters, emblematic precisely because it was the same shit the federal government and most subsidiary governments had been doing for the homeless for over a decade by that point. Obama contributed generously to homelessness by mouthing insincere platitudes in the face of a foreclosure crisis he strategically allowed.

Biden might be better than Trump on homelessness. He might be worse. He’ll probably just be different. We absolutely have not had a president show meaningful moral or practical leadership on aything pertaining to homelessness since Jimmy Carter. Joe Plagiarism doesn’t look like the guy to break this streak, but nobody cares, or at least not much of anybody who votes.

It’s like it’s a fucking ballgame. The Yankees always play dirty, but we love our Nationals. It’s no coincidence that a guy who reasons like this tried to get me down to Camden Yards for a bachelor party in the midst of the Hot Summer of Freddy Gray and later, upon Trump’s victory, told me, almost despondent, “I guess there are a lot more uneducated people in this country than I realized.”

Trump is the fault of Raiders Nation, in that case. Cool. Are you fucking ready for some. Don’t go looking for money to get people off the trailer park frontage roads along the Nimitz; it’s all gone into the Coliseum.

We unhoused some folks.

Even if we assume that the Bay Area is now governed for worse-than-useless solipsistic narcissists who refer to their own low-key homeless neighbors as “my Uber,” it’s bizarre that they don’t see something really, badly wrong with the scene along the Nimitz or El Camino or all over San Francisco, in a way that a more robust social welfare apparatus is the only thing that can help. What are we trying to replicate here? Sao Paolo? Lagos? Bombay? Possibilities are flicking straight through my mind: probably not Addis Ababa, maybe Manila or Nairobi, definitely not Kigali or Buenos Aires or Santiago, no public escalators so it can’t be Cali or Medellin or wherever they did that. We’re on a chute straight into the midrange Third World, just maybe with worse medical care.

I mailed a donation to Loaves and Fishes about sixteen hours before I opened the e-mail I reproduced at the top, the one about the homeless and what we may and may not do for them. I’m not about to risk trouble, for me or for anyone else, by putting leftovers out by a dumpster in the courtyard of my apartment building. I should do something along those lines, a calling I doubt I’ll answer, but if I do I’ll take it out into the neighborhood a bit.

It doesn’t matter, though; not the charity, but the location. In a narrow sense it may, but word is already out on the streets that my building is a place to look for food. The reputation will attract who it will attract, in ways entirely beyond my influence. I was informed about this situation after the fact. There’s a guy I take for homeless who sits in one of the entry hallways listening to music, and who I think stays with one of the tenants on some basis, but he’s always seemed harmless. I have no idea whether he’s been burgling cars, but mine is probably too messy to attract many people, so I’m not worried. Someone did once get in and throw papers everywhere, but I found nothing important missing. I have it parked in my assigned spot under the carport with the windows partway down, the doors unlocked, and the battery dead oops lol, but the chip keys are getting worn again because either Jones West or the plant fucked something up, so, hey.

That’s no battle I’m about to fight. I live in a pretty nice tenement in a nice neighborhood. The neighbors run the gamut from squirrelly but harmless to wonderful. We have three unguarded, ungated entryways to the building, all from a public street. The neighborhood has mixed zoning. The building next door is fully gated and locked. A couple of weeks ago a cop asked me how to get in there to deal with a noise complaint over a late-night pool party. I told him I thought he’d have to wait for a tenant to let him in. Cool cop, cool neighbors; no idea about the pool until I heard the splashing. Even then I initially thought it was coming from a TV in my building.

The building next door is a gentry fortress. Ours is not. We aren’t hiding out behind the palace walls, quaking in our boots about our safety and (extremely nerds voice) Our Purchases. We aren’t Brazil. The pool building isn’t either, really, but it’s headed there, with the rest of us in tow.

We have homeless in the neighborhood. Most of them are over towards the Safeway, but they’re around. There are board and care homes in the neighborhoods, some with furlough programs. There’s a row of redwood trees fifty or a hundred yards away, across a parking lot, with tarps and cardboard and a sofa and stuff in the underbrush. I saw a guy shitting on one of the redwoods on Memorial Day last year, with a cop making a glacially slow six-point U-turn fifteen feet away across a chain link fence.

It’s bigger than me. Then I hear about assholes like Musk and Gates and especially Bezos, and I remember who needs to foot the bill for this shit: them. It would work true wonders to expropriate Bezos, tax him at 99%, flood his facilities with labor inspectors, and overall grind him back down into the uppermost reaches of the vaguely human upper class. How the hell is a billion dollars not enough? He has $150b or some shit. He’s supposedly on course to become the first trillionaire. Mocha Haole is being celebrated as our first prospective billionaire president emeritus. Harry and Bess Truman moved back into their bungalow or whatever the hell in Independence with the Secret Service in the yard. Carter put his peanut farm into a blind trust. Why aren’t we making Barry pass us more o da kine, yeah? What is wrong with us?

This isn’t a village with a cartwright, a potter, a stingy barber surgeon, a ruined prince, and a hundred mentally retarded field hands. Bezos amounts to a rogue knight who socializes with the town gossip, orders his neighbors to work in his shop for free and sleep in an outdoor pigsty, lounges around in a hammock telling them what to do for him, and gets up with a cat-o-nine-tails in hand and wails when they refuse to approach the whipping post at his command and instead walk off the property. On his own, he’s laughably impotent.

Musk is even worse. an even more useless prick who’s also the town drunk.

Rich assholes like these love talking about the state of nature, the lion and the gazelle both getting up each morning (there aren’t clocks on the savannah, dumbass), and dog-eat-dog, sink-or-swim fights to the death through pure merit. In an actual state of nature, as opposed to their skillful arbitrage of postmodern complexity and plenty, they would likely be assassinated by junta. This is the subject of significant anthropological and zoological study. There are limits to the arrogance primitive societies will tolerate. They can be suprisingly low, enforced with surprising vigor and dispatch.

Of course they can end up with incest and pedophilia and domestic battery, and until around 1700 in Europe and today in parts of Africa, routine cannibalism, but then again, beef: it’s not what’s for Donner. Jeff might have a cookbook to lend.

Before I got distracted a few thousand words ago, I meant to say a bit about a jarringly absurd biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt from 1877 or thereabouts. Some forgettable fuckhead, a total idiot and sycophant, got wound up about the Commodore’s contributions to society, including the steam engine, the railroad, the telegraph, and civilization itself. He invented civilization, just as the Italians had to invent the Fiat 500 in order to have sex and, one imagines, Italians. India has freaks from the engineering faculties (where else?) who dismiss Robert Oppenheimer as a dullard before the Mahabharata, a chronicle not only of nuclear warfare but also of two dozen different models of aircraft. You know, that kind of thing. We can perhaps see Mr. Explodeypants from that vantage point. That suckup Victorian asshole, by contrast, assured his readers that the Commodore was personally responsible for technologies first developed in Georgian to proto-Indo-European times.

It rather evokes Elon Musk braying about how he’s going to show that pedo the business by replicating Alvin from scratch and piloting it into a cave he’d known about for a week. Atrios has that grandiose cokehead pegged: If Elon says something questionable and people are talking it up, replace “Elon Musk” with “my uncle Larry.” “My uncle Larry says that limey cunt in Thailand is a boy-diddling pervert. Uncle Larry’s sending a custom submarine into the cave to rescue those kids, once he’s out of the bathroom and on his way back from Minneapolis.”

Come on. He just wanted us to know he wasn’t a fag. Jealous of a nasty, naughty boy? Goodness, no, just heterosexually outraged. Still, if it sounds crazy coming from a weird as hell rancher, it shouldn’t sound any better coming from a cokehead who looks like he just cleared immigration at Roswell.

Raise the marginal rates.

 

Atticus Pitch

We’ve touched on mental health above, so let’s return to our Normal One. There’s no need to sugarcoat the floater: we haven’t got a whole lot of it around here.

There are astounding stories of psychiatric dead zones, places where it’s possible to drive, like, 500 miles across the prairie through country that’s home to a population in the tens of thousands and not come within an hour of a psychiatric practice. The other cool thing about these places is that they have some of the highest suicide rates in the US. Great work, fam. We’re really gettin’ er done for the people who git er done. Of course, we have irresponsible country music about cowboys and cowgirls not crying, which doesn’t help: if there are two other families within five or ten miles and it’s impossible to make ends meet, it’s a bad idea to bottle it all up just to conform to the idiotic stereotypes trafficked by opportunists who don’t even live on the range. It really says something about us as a nation, though, that we source large portions of our food supply from mental health sacrifice zones. We really are holding this joint together with chewing gum and dental floss.

This is the brittleness we all suffer because a posse of coke buddies in Manhattan has to make another easy buck at our expense. The High Plains have been depopulating for decades now. It has to make life harder to have all the kids leave town. The pork supply has been thrown into chaos because a handful of plants in the Midwest that process an alarmingly large portion of the country’s hogs were overcome with virus outbreaks. The Smithfield plant in South Dakota that got shut down because a symptomatic worker had clocked back in is said to process 2% of American pork. One plant. That’s insane. And they’re inevitably doing all the same sketchy, dangerous shit as ever, plus some. Ever since about 1980 the industry model has been to hire foreign peasants who live in crowded squalor to work themselves to exhaustion on lines that are run at inherently, blatantly dangerous speeds. The only thing we’re now adding is a deadly contagion alighting on this workforce at a time when it still can not care for itself in general or spatially buffer itself either at work or at home.

What else were we going to do? Treat these losers like people? Like our brothers and sisters, as their keepers, and they as ours? Pay them enough to live decently and take downtime when they need it to rest up? That’s no way to run a business.

The mental have always been in our midst: loners chasing God through the desert, the possessed whose demons Jesus exorcised, ergot victims, town lunatics, mountain men, Woody Allen. What’s new is the extreme abnormality of our times. I’m unconvinced of the realiability of the reconstructed data, but there are indications that the prevalence of mental illness in the West is rising significantly. It says something that so many people insist it is, regardless of the evidence they use or don’t have.

We indulged in autism earlier. Those who don’t use it as their all-access Disney pass are petrified that their kids will catch it. This fear is paranoid: a normally functioning community is unlikely to have more than a handful of social outliers who are too mentally disabled to function adequately in society, and some of these will have other conditions, not autism. Most likely the autists will skew towards the adequately functioning. Who gives a shit if they’re kind of odd? Why is that a problem? Do we all have to be cheerleaders? There’s no way that a community without incest or extreme inbreeding will end up with a fifth of its children nonverbal and throwing the cat at the wall.

Except that isn’t exactly what parents have in mind when they mention autism. They mean raising a kid who spergs out and understands cats more than people. So what? Is that a fucking problem? It isn’t for Charlie Sheen, and we can all see how far short he falls of Anthony Hopkins. The cheerleader question in the last paragraph was not, unfortunately, rhetorical. Yes, they all do have to be cheerleader material.

It’s that above-average thing again. By some accounts Mr. Keillor is one such case himself, and that explains the touchy-feely shit. Translation: he’s a clumsy dork and it took him an hour or maybe a month to do a quarter of what takes Joe Biden five seconds. We have our neurological explanations for Uncle Joe (ain’t fixable), but why do we need one for him? Is it not enough to note that he made a stage career out of wheezing and sighing through readings of his short fiction pieces, some of which sucked? If he’s autism, what the hell does Chris Thile say about the neurotypical?

The reason all the children have to be above-average, but not like that bulldog-looking nerd, is that our job market has come to be understood as having one Temple Grandin position, a few slots for the manic-depressives in the arts, maybe a John Nash kook nook or two in the sciences, and millions upon millions of openings in sales, but not, like, Willy Loman beta male shit. Parents are scared that their kids will flounder academically in school, and the popular explanations of late are all on the Spectrum, but they’re also scared to death that they’ll have trouble developing people skills, now known as “soft skills.” We really don’t do anything anymore if it’s hard, as she said.

Again, it’s because we all scam or strongarm rob our neighbors for a living. We don’t even run an economy based on taking in one another’s laundry. For chrissake we have Mexicans for that.

It’s all too easy to see how people who are fully employable but have mild difficulties reading and reacting to social cues would have trouble navigating the workforce due not to an inability or unwillingess to work, but due to a constitutional inability to convincingly lie. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to bluff under normal circumstances, and I have great difficulty compartmentalizing different truths for different audiences, although I’m okay at codeswitching and staying away from third rails in a number of different subcultures. I’ve never seriously suspected that I have autistic tendencies. What impresses me, rather, is that I’m too anxious to bluff or bullshit, even when I find it reasonable to be dishonest, and that I’m powerfully afraid of falling into a psychotic state if I lie or mislead as a matter of course. All around me I hear people saying things that sound absolutely delusional, things that are lucid in a strict clinical sense but functionally as psychotic as anything I’ve heard from someone actively cursing at ghosts downtown. I often conclude that the only thing I have left is my true witness, my ability and desire to live in truth, and as gross as I feel writing that, it’s true.

It’s something I’m loath to give up. I went to school with amoral bullshit artists, manipulators, gaslighters, liars, and similar scumbags who are now firmly among the amoral elites aggressively driving the productive into the destitute, despised margins of American society. They’re why it’s difficult to impossible to get by doing anything reputable for a living. This isn’t some butterfly effect wizardry story where a roomful of key assholes can be removed from the Rube Goldberg machine and it sputters to a halt because they were the linchpins. It’s more insidious. I’ve personally known maybe a dozen or two dozen truly bad actors, plus cronies of theirs who were class acts but sellouts, but I knew of hundreds more who were at least as bad, and altogether they work out to maybe 4% of the combined student body at a group of elite four-year colleges with combined enrollment of 10k.

The math is yours if you want it.

Is it crazy to surmise that the power and wealth people of this character hold has ill effects on mental health in their societies? Of course not. This is a faction of morally unhinged social climbers who presume themselves lords with the right and the duty to tell the rest of us how to live. Their own mental health, by the way, is terrible.


Atticus Pitch

It’s my fault for listening to Marco Werman’s Two O’Clock Dorkfest. We all have our terrible habits, right? KQED preempted part of the feed yesterday afternoon, which per se could have been a good idea, but reread what I just wrote about who did this. Do they sound like they’ve been acting on GOOD ideas? What could have motivated them to interrupt their own programming?

Why, money. They welcome the money and the cash. Some of us welcome it more gracefully, but some of us also aren’t public radio stations. They cut away from about ten minutes of the Gavin Gabbin as well, on the reasoning that it was an extended Gabbin running until 1:30 but really on the reasoning that they could use some of that sweet long green. Some months ago, during a prior pledge drive, they cut away from Mina Kim’s live Forum interview with Nicholas “my name means fuck you in Arabic” and Sheryl WuDunn. It was a surprisingly good chat, but that aside, Kim is their own host and Forum is their own program! Even if the episode sucks, even if the whole program and concept and all parties involved suck, why put it together in-house, air it live, and then preempt it?

Duh. Money.

One of their bag ladies, I assume she is, Claire Greene or Clare Green or whatever–I think–got on the horn with Michele Henagan from home and said that she was loopy because it was getting stuffy in her attic. Green[e] is one of the characters they only trot out when they want money. I can’t recall their making any other use of her thirty talents. Mercy, she might have fewer, or she might have more, and we know her employer has more, or in any event we think it does because it could have put some aside in a savings mattress or Jefferson Icebox from the accounts already received, via our own. Who knows? They always need more. It’s like a kid who keeps getting Gobias Industries grants from every relative with money, and the family convenes without him in an effort to discern what the hell is wrong with him, and the council keeps drawing blanks because the putz is too boring to have a drug addiction. Radio equipment?

It’s pathetic. They’ve got this bag lady on air, and since we’re all under the watch of the Dread Ailment she’s set up a home broadcasting office, and the only free space she’s been able to repurpose is the attic. Quick reivew: homeskillet is on payroll at a licensed radio station. How hard it is for the techs to wire a feed Henagan’s live broadcast studio and a second studio in the same building? Are these losers operating the most popular NPR affiliate out of a single room, The Studio? Check it out: we’ve got the tape room for the archive, we’ve got the equipment room, we’re in radio so we’ve got the makeup room, we’ve got the studio, and over here we’ve got the game arcade, because we like to have fun.

It feels like some real Dril candles tweet-ass budgeting. Fifty or a hundred grand coming in a pop from “challenge grants” and they’re still setting up home studio feeds from employees’ attics. The whole broadcast-from-home story scans like an op, anyway. They usually have only one or two members of their on-air staff broadcasting at a time, a host and sometimes a live newsreader. Most of the newsroom has to spend much of its time in the field to do the reporting. I guess? I didn’t previously guess that this outfit had an attic. One extra employee who’s personally on air coming to the studio–yeah, yeah, there’s no reason to have Green[e] on, but they think there is–doesn’t seem like the tipping point from health into sickness. It feels awfully like public health theater to have Brian Watttt reporting from home in Oakland and staying off BARTTTT. Put your liquids in your 3-1-1 bag and take off your shoes; we can’t be running a dangerous civil aviation system here, like we’re Qantas.

It’s unimaginably amateurish. Oh, yeah, meant to tell you, Wildcard Line’s busy again, so I’m trying to get through to Nori directly on my HAM set, but it may take a while. Check on me if I’m not down for breakfast. These are Old Traditions, from times before the internet livestream. Pepperidge Farm remembers. Faulkner, oh Lord, Bill remembers. How could he forget? It is not even past.

It’s cool and definitely not a sign of societal decay that a major affiliate of the national public broadcaster has hosts broadcasting from their home attics. When they call us a city on a hill, they don’t exactly specify that the city isn’t a slum and the hill a slope at Fresh Kills. In fact, we’re getting a lot of “fresh kills” from the disease, AMIRITE. #TooSoon.

We have all these contrasts that are striking, as Robert Speed said about his thermos when Dr. Geyer arrived for his outpatient neurosurgery appointment. #TooSoon. Hudson Yards is open and available for well-meaning but hopelessly sheltered and oblivious alumnae from my high school who do God knows what of any use for society to gather for mixers and cultivate their worst rich girl proclivities, but the MTA can’t fix the cracks and leaks in its subway tunnel walls or keep its conductors alive. Sickly street people who haven’t had a half-decent place to stay in over a decade wander beneath the gleaming flagship towers (grab an airsickness bag) of the “up-and-coming,” “revitalized” SoMa. Bizarrely, one of these flagship towers was not only built but sold as high-end condos with its floors not level. We have earthquakes here. That ain’t it, chief.

We built this Shitty and did nothing about the Ghost Ship. 36 died as a result. Many of them were pretentious morons who just needed to make and appreciate their art in Oakland–gritty and authentic, but not, like Vallejo gritty and authentic–and some of their survivors still show up to sea lion total strangers for discussing the ramifications of that fire on social media, asserting the primacy of their private, artistic grief over the public policy considerations of, say, not risking the lives of firefighters by allowing people to inhabit and badly clutter a known death trap. Again, #TooSoon.

We’d hope it wouldn’t be too soon to start cleaning up this hideous mess, and not just pretend-cleaning it up with some more gentrification lofts across the freeway from a junkyard slum. We’d hope for many things: a chicken in every pot, a unicorn in every paddock. Our public health emergency is lighting only the weakest of fires under our leaders’ asses. We can MAYBE do something for the cold homeless, if the landlords don’t strongarm governments for rehousing rents beyond their artificially limited ability to pay, but we can’t deal with the shelters or the SRO’s until after they’ve had outbreaks, and then only on a case-by-case basis, and there’s absolutely no way we can flood the market with public housing sufficient for the poorest of the working class to stop living four or five to a room when they’re already exhausted and immunocompromised.

Our cosmopolitan elites and strivers pride themselves on being supremely rational and scientifically minded, in contrast to oafs like Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis and Tucker Carlson, but Trump is as close to FDR as we’ve gotten since at least Carter (look up Obama’s actual record, if you dare), Carlson has taken to outflanking the left on the actual left in a more targeted and coherent way than the Oaf of Office can manage for two minutes, and nobody in the big Democratic cities does a bloody thing for the poor. The counterargument that, well, some people in government and private charity are doing some things on some of these problems is mildly, vaguely encouraging, but when the sum of that effort moderately alleviates a tenth or a twentieth of the problem, or less, it’s tragically weak.

We plainly do not take any of this seriously as a society. The capital costs of the Golden1 Center could cover the recent annual budgets of Loaves and Fishes for nearly a century; those of the “Big Build” at the Sacramento Airport could cover close to four centuries. These are two consolidated line items for deluxe quasipublic goods whose capital costs could fund the most crucial, and arguably the only good, social services charity on skid row for close to half a millennium at its recent operating budgets. I keep meaning to send more money to Loaves and Fishes, and I’m not resentful that it’s on me, but for the love of God why are our governments not strongarming enough tax revenue out of the rich, and cutting off financial and permitting support for their profit centers cum vanities, to fill the gaping chasms left by the patchwork of NGO charities? Why in all hell must the burden fall onto a small contingent of nuns and whatever lay volunteers they can attract and professional lay staff they can afford to feed, clothe, bathe, house, and counsel a desperately poor community numbering in the low thousands?

This is insane. I don’t mean morally insane, although it’s that, too; it’s hard to resist the temptation to frame willful immorality as unsoundness of mind, and as much as I try to avoid doing so for reasons of rhetoric and self-respect, if I may say so, I can’t object to others taking such a stance when the entire debate has been so deranged for so many decades, especially in the antisocial circles on the right. What I mean is that this dereliction of basic social stewardship is fundamentally arrogant, detached from the observable facts on the ground, and delusional, that the communities they form and the governments they elect are mentally incompetent to keep the population safe. Abandoning people who have been visibly sick for years to life on the streets during a global public health emergency arising from a communicable respiratory disease is the communal equivalent of wandering around on active train tracks in a state of total disorientation, covered in weeks’ worth of filth.

There are jurisdictions where being so incompetent to care for oneself as an individual would easily prompt a guardianship, conservatorship, or involuntary psychiatric hold. If you or I had another person living in a tent in the backyard with a bucket for a toilet and no shower privileges in the house as a form of residential indenture for past debts, we could expect social services and the police to respond.

What I just described is exactly what landlords, hospital groups, collection agencies, credit bureaus, courts, prisons, and other authorities public and private do on a systematic basis to the poor to render them homeless. This is exhaustively established.

It’s bad news in the best of times, i.e., when the worst communicable diseases available in and from the community are venereal and bloodborne, not respiratory. That makes it plausible for the average bougie normcore fool to imagine that it’s just local color for a neighbor to be living on cardboard on the sidewalk and coughing up a lung all day on no sleep and no nutrition, like, huh, that’s a skell right there, but at least I’m clean and not at risk lol yuck. It’s still appallingly unreasonable, but there’s some serviceable rationality in the mix: at least I’m bathed, clothed, fed, rested, safe, and smug, so see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya.

The current outbreak is much more serious for the population at large. We’re OBVIOUSLY part of the same disease reservoir; the best luck we can chase is the hope that our end isn’t wet yet. The street people will present at the same emergency rooms where they’re already frequent fliers and expose clinical staff to viral loads proliferated by their own weakened immune systems, along with a spray of every other species of nasty shit they’re unable to fight off for the same reasons: in the vernacular, because they’re too sick and tired to get healthy.

The nurses will then go home to their nice neighborhoods. The doctors will go home to their very nice neighborhoods.

Is this some kind of bleeding-heart no man is an island sentimentality? Okay, I go to confession when the booth has been open sometime since St. Patrick’s Day and I’ve been so much as thinking callous thoughts that I fear have made life harder for some bum I passed on the street, so come over and own my liberal ass with economic facts and logic all you want, but look at it this way: if you don’t personally have affairs with doctors or nurses, somebody you know does. Be sure to up the odds if you’re from a nice neighborhood and went to a “good school,” like Ryerson or Trinity Western, but who the hell do I think I can fool with the shock value: I mean Harvard. It would have been a good idea for Robert Sanchez to reach for the emergency brake in the interest of passenger and crew safety, but good God, some of you really do cry like suicidally despondent ranchers living three hundred miles from the nearest psychiatrist when you apply to Bowdoin and only get in to Bowie State.

Ow, Tate, my balls.

What your husband means by “business in Fresno” is tricks he picks up on Parkway. How do I know this? It’s a true story; it doesn’t have to be an accurate one. There’s a lot of stuff that can’t be known for an absolute fact but can easly be known for a statistical fact, and sweetheart, we’re all part of the statistics. Do I sound like I know this because I’ve spent time on Parkway? Here’s the embarrassing part: all I got was a room, not a girl to share it with me for half an hour.

These are social diseases. Temple Grandin was in the vanguard for arranging for machine hugs to carry her through our strange times. Go figure. The point is, if you think you know somebody who knows somebody who can bribe or blackmail the dean of admissions into admitting your uppity brat into Yale, you absolutely know somebody who knows somebody who’s badly symptomatic and badly contagious out on the streets. For fuck’s sake I have one degree of separation from Dana Rohrabacher, Laird Hamilton, and that guy who hawks CD’s from a cart out in front of the Foodland in Princeville. Yeah, ya gotta ride your pipeline in her Pearl Harbor more aloha, ya? /Juicily disturbed Guy Hagi voice/ See you out in the Pacific!

We can pretend that we’ve banished the stubborn last 10% of underground masseuses and hourly girlfriends (and boyfriends! and masseurs!) to OnlyFans for the duration. We can pretend that there isn’t a new crop of speakeasies whose customers do, in fact, go for the food. We can pretend that being horny for rules means actually following the rules instead of bending them to one’s own convenience and comfort at every opportunity. Oh, but we’re Instacarting our food and being comfy and cozy at home in our PJ’s, just like the government said! Yeah, genius, that was my point. You’re acting like you’re passing the marshmallow test when the point of the test is to eat as many bags as you like and wait for a servant to bring you more from Whole Foods at your command. Congratulations on staying in school and outattaining Nickelback.

We can pretend that we are valuing human life by not seeing our friends or relatives or lovers or fuck buddies or thicke hug buddies or thicky tricks, by staying in and effectively living, each of us, in our own condom. Cutting out the promiscuous, unncessary, often unwanted physical contact and proximity with total strangers has saved countless lives this spring. What’s that last 10% of deferred contact, with our loved ones when they aren’t visibly ill, really worth in the interest of our own health and that of our neighbors? Honestly, I’m not even trying to be rhetorical. This much seems to be a judgment call, one of Solomonic gravity if we examine it too closely.

The problem is that we also pretend to value human life by painting social distancing squares on that parking lot in Las Vegas, delineating for the town bums exactly where to lay down in the lines of sight from hundreds of empty hotel rooms. A serious society would have had the municipal and county governments in strict receivership that night. This still isn’t a marshmallow test, asshole. Lives are at stake.

The permissiveness we extended Carolyn Goodman and her cronies instead was utterly derelict and insane. It’s the licentious recklessness that causes us to live the consequences of our own recklessness in due course of time. “We” may or may not include that wine grandma and her gin husband, but they are foolish enough to spend time in the same city they’ve trashed, so we can’t assure that it won’t.

They’re from Philadelphia. Them and Netanyahu. And Cosby. Give a fat bitch some pound cake, won’tcha, and couldja stop puddin’ your pop where she didn’t ask for it, gramps. Geez. No man is an island, and no man can stand to go to an island without his handle of Bombay Sapphire.

We had our thicc moist boi, the Donald, looking straight at the sun with naked eyes because he’d been told they were going to dim it. Many complain that he’s a stupid asshole with a death drive and no common manners or common sense. They should take a look at Jair Bolsonaro sometime. That one’s a case. We might say that he “eclipses” his counterpart in El Norte the Great Satan. He was off from the start of his presidency, but not one to rest on his laurels, he’s daily exploring new depths of bad judgment and worse health. Bolsonaro is a memento mori of the medically undead. Dulce et decorum est pro Patria in Foro expectorare.

The upper middle class wanted Bolsonaro for his vigor. They wanted him to revitalize Brazil against the decadence of the left, as bodily manifested in Lula. They didn’t even have a sickly, careerist nepotist collapsing into the arms of aides in mild weather and being bundled into a waiting van to deride as their foil. For their showdown with the based, iron-pumping, socially adept ex-autoworker they dredged up a sickly-looking ex-army officer with the eeriest, most uncanny smiles, like the different parts of his face were running on different, conflicting operating systems. What they really had in mind in the way of vigor was that this repulsive and yet bafflingly handsome Lovecraftian swamp creature would gladhand them and somehow, through flattery or probably money, prevail upon his mercenaries to beat the shit out of the poor. A bad knife laceration to the liver and months’ worth of real-time disintegrating lungs and skin tone later, he’s still miraculously ambulatory and articulate. It’s amazing that Edith hasn’t been out to tell us, oh, no, unfortunately Mr. Wilson is indisposed.

Jair Bolsonaro is a walking Picture of Dorian Gray. He’s the picture, and Brazil is Mr. Gray, or maybe more like Dorian Yellow. It’s amazing. There’s no need to understand Portuguese or even listen to his tone of voice as a nonspeaker to glance at a still or a video of him and immediately tell that he is extremely unwell.

This is a fellow who might be taken for an exceptionally dysfunctional mayor or governor. In fact he is the head of state and government for a large, populous country, generally agreed in recent decades to be on the rise, an international agricultural and industrial powerhouse that exports commercial jet aircraft. If BoJo and the Donald were put on standby to serve as his regents or successors, it would be a relief. This dude looks worse than Fancy Nancy or DiFi, and yet somehow also better, and in the next frame he looks like he’s on furlough from the ICU. It’s impossible to tell if he’s 35, 75, or both at once. Here, in a single majestic man, we see synthesized and incarnate the inaugural speech of William Henry Harrison, the paranoia of Richard Nixon, the disoriented pallor of Rob Ford at his most alcoholic, the temper of Andrew Jackson, the compulsive handshaking of Scott Morisson, and the bluster through ill health of JFK.

Jair Bolsonaro is a synecdoche for a nation. That nation is the United States of America.

Summering with Nancy in the Heart of the Shitty

We are not, as a polity, going to have a coherent one this summer. It ain’t on the agenda, fam. Our once-in-a-century plague, all too likely a preview of more frequent coming attractions, will not take the summer off here any more than it has taken the permanent Philadelphia summer of Southeast Asia off in Singapore. The sun comes out. The barbecues and beer coolers follow. The sap rises. Melanomagenic public nudity beckons. School’s out.

Is any of this a thing that can be cancelled?

Or, government depending, school’s back in session. The only student I know of who applied himself for summer school was a kid back east who told his teachers that he would be damned if he was gonna land on the crew at his father’s paving company again. Kid had to work to maintain his grades. Universal homeschooling has not gone too swimmingly this spring, and congregate schooling in July and August will be controversial, to say the least. The months of May and June are straight down the shitter in an ordinary school year anyhow. The old sap is up too high to focus. Of course a vigorous young thing can get worn out pulling titty at four in the morning in Ferndale any time of the year, but shit, Bessy, who am I kidding? I’m entirely too agrarian-minded for this country.

We’ve lost instructional hours, they say. We’ve lost learning. The bottomless spring break (giggity?) will disrupt the instructional flow for our hardworking young people, in contrast to the annual summer break, which never does that. What percentage of Americans have any idea of how we ended up with a summer break from schooling? 8% of students? Two fifths of teachers? Supposedly less than one percent of Americans live on working agricultural or pastoral properties. I think I’ve heard figures of two million in total.

It’s wryly entertaining that these earnest doofuses construe instruction as the purpose of the American K-12 schooling apparatus in the first place. What planet do they inhabit? At least the commute to ours gives them scientifically relevant experience in space travel. Gotta take what we can in this business.

It seems the modal American is thoroughly ignorant of the contours of the postmodern superstructure holding our country together in a state of haphazard civilization, let alone of how this superstructure interlocks with the past, or as some of the sober among us think of it, real life. Food comes from Whole Foods. It contains the whole store of the foods, right? Sure. There’s no point to explaining these things willy-nilly; we choose our battles to fight. To the fish, before its conversion into sticks, what is “wet?” Wha, whaddaya mean, what’s “wet?” Ah, you aren’t from around here, either! The music immersion program in these parts is phenomenal, Mr. Ross. Say, why don’t you play some? Goodness, it’s the summer. What else would we do? Toil on farms all day, like a bunch of wetbacks?

Wha, whaddaya mean, “wetback?” They’re all dying in the desert. That’s how badly they desire to come here, as aliens.

Brenda Jorett herself posted photos of her own decadent ass lying in the Jersey sand when she wasn’t scolding the kids these days for having no work ethic. We’re all just working for the weekend, cranking it out for the opportunity to lay out. Why, yes, I did personally know some wretchedly self-satisfied jagoffs back east. You may have read about them.

Much of this is arrant bullshit. It’s beside the point. This is the culture we inherit and now steward. As the dumbest, most brainwashed motherfuckers on the face of the earth like to say, it is what it is. It’s our programming. The point is a more intelligently and reputably stoical one: we’re in no position to expeditiously roll back several generations’ worth of hardening cultural idiocy that’s been woven straight into the drapes of the dysfunctional funhouse in which we live out our very weird communal hangups over sex and work (separately or in tandem) just because we’re getting our sick on.

Well over a tenth of the US population lives in California, and most of that lives on the maritime side of the crest. With spring mostly behind us, the only thing we can do now is to pray for a wet summer that is not on deck. We’ll be lucky if we get some good and heavy coastal fog. We’ll be lucky if the June Gloom has any soporific effect at all this year. The cabin fever is only getting worse. The beaches down south were a mob scene over the weekend. Contrary to popular belief out of state, it usually cools down and clouds up noticeably along the Pacific seaboard going into summer, and the summer fog is in no way exclusively a San Francisco thing, but the forecast so far looks good, and that means it looks nothing but bad.

Nob Hill Dreamboat is uneasy, and he has every reason to be. He’s in charge of a hive with no queen bee. Getaway traffic surges unstoppably out of the metropoles when the sun comes out. The only things the authorities can do, realistically, are to close parking lots and deploy spotty park patrols. Spring erupts and a hundred thousand motorists all descend on the same hot spots with adequate parking for a quarter of them. This is what happens with or without a pandemic, and as they say in the dumber parts of Pennsylvania, this year we’re going with.

Look at it this way: Gavin Newsom is the governor of California, not of Instagram. The problem isn’t comfortably or safely housing 8,000 or 16,000 residents per square mile in a city, as the horny-for-sprawl urbanist squad is now concern-trolling in the name of public health, not just in the name of Joel Kotkin’s grandmother who always hated Brooklyn. That’s bollocks, and Kotkin is, as always on urban density, full of shit. Another outer-borough Jew with a chip on his shoulder needs to work out his insipid personal problems: who cares?

The actual problem with California’s urban planning is a thornier one, because it’s cultural in nature, not infrastructural. Eight million private cars are garaged in the same metroplex on direct lines inland from the same stretch of beach running from Pacific Palisades to Santa Monica, and it’s a pain in the ass to drive to Point Mugu. No, that does not mean that Point Mugu will have parking. Are you out of your mind?

Not everybody makes a break for the coast all at once; it just feels like they do, because it takes nothing but a sunny day to send the traffic spiraling out of all control. There’s any number of things that people could do on their days off that don’t involve all going to the same overcrowded patch of sand, but the crowd surges at play are inevitably irrational. Some vapid fuckhead logs onto Instagram to post dogshit-retarded influencer pictures from some place she first heard about last week, and the next week it’s so popular nobody goes there anymore. Plus people who work or do marketing for a living don’t have the gumption to research every getaway spot that might possibly be within a safe round-trip driving distance and also worth visiting. Inclement weather or remoteness could make a place unsafe (Salton Sea much?), which would tend to make it not worthwhile, and there’s some empty-ass wild shit not very far from city hall in Los Angeles or San Francisco.

It’s the same spat the Malthusians always have with the anticolonialists they always accuse of being pie-in-the-sky morons, who always accuse them of being eugenicist bigots. What, exactly, do we mean by enough space? Potter Stewart himself would never have the clarity of sight to know it. It looks a lot more spacious if there are free seats on the Expo Line than it does if there isn’t free pavement on the 10. We have, in all but the most extreme times, such as this spring, the civil liberty to go to the beach. Does that mean that we have the birthright to drive there right this minute and find parking?

Of course it does. We’re Californians! Gavin said it himself: California is all about living in a dream house in the hills. He’s pretty astute as politicians go, but that’s every bit as ridiculous, irrational, and provably false as insisting that everybody in LA has a car. This shit is so pervasive that we don’t even have to make it up. I had to look up census data and transit ridership statistics to learn that any of this is happy horseshit. Am I supposed to take the rest of the state for such losers?

The urgency of the present is going to last all summer. It’s gonna look great. Take your ass down to Men’s Warehouse and get fitted. Millennia of weather and a century of proliferating automobility are crashing into what is so far a brief season of compromised public health. There’s no way Memorial Day this year doesn’t make things snap. Memorial Day is one of the smattering of extant quasiracinated American holidays marking the seasons. It’s the one that inaugurates hot summer. My God, Caray, you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day for a health scare and a ballgame.

This thing is operating on a timeline that the wisdom of the crowd finds alien and intolerable. All is not well on the homefront. Families are at the breaking point, which is exactly what every sober observer of Alaska expects all winter. (Nah, all year.) We’ve got millions of people who literally, direly need some time outside. The public health orders are exacerbating every local inequity and disparity in access to open spaces, parks, pedestrian-safe streets, and other places to not just sit around inside all day like prisoners.

This is a good example of how they’ll shit the bed by reopening the schools before Labor Day. Zoom conferences, online curriculum portals, and other horseshit forms of distance “learning” have exhausted the patience of the parents trying to coordinate their new unsupported mandates and the “students” who in a great many cases frankly wouldn’t be learning jack shit worth knowing in the best of times. I learned how to read in school. Does anyone glancing at this blog possibly fucking think I learned how to write there?

Like any other metastable social stress, there’s no identifying the point or time of failure in advance. Things hold, and then suddenly they snap. The reason to expect governments to face a crisis of legitimacy by Memorial Day this year is just that the statistics of our national holiday culture are decidedly not on the other side of that bet. Regional American governments are unwilling to hold the line for the duration of the popularly observed spring. California is a different beast from Georgia, Florida, or the line between them: it’ll be a cold day in hell when we elect a pulsating sleazeball like Brian Kemp or a hapless, ideologically addled dipshit like Ron DeSantis. We do, however, absolutely have roughly our fair national share of loudmouthed death-drive zealots who love shitheads of their caliber for being shitheads. John Cox got over forty percent of the vote against Gavin Newsom in the last general election, and some of the stuff he was pushing was crazy.

The plane of cleavage that busts this whole thing open may not end up being exclusively political in nature, but I fully expect politics to play a prominent, ugly role. It’s a Democrat virus. Hydroxychloroquine is the Republican drug. John Cox loves cars and the car lovers who drive them, so Gavin Newsom is a limousine liberal who hates cars and farmers and everything else that keeps America great. It’s pretty inaccurate, but we curate our own truths. This is America. Leaving enough surface water in the rivers to forestall saltwater intrusion all the way back to Stockton and Clarksburg and the ruination of every riparian, estuarine, and near-estuarine marine ecosystem from San Ysidro to Smith River is a liberal plot against growth.

Yes, this stuff is insane. Yes, people believe it. Remember, the notionally left wing of our political class consumes Harry Potter and Josiah Bartlet wholly in earnest. It’s #content, bitch. The political spectrum in the nation maintaining the global Allied nuclear umbrella spans a riotous diversity of ideology from nerds who believe in castles full of wizards and elves to the guy who looked at the sun with unprotected eyes because he’d been told it would be covered and now wants to develop orthoscopic ultraviolet irradiation of the blood stream as an antiviral treatment.

It’s shockingly politicized. Why would any of it not be? We believe in science and rationality; that’s why we strive for a crypto-English aristocratic utopia based on a series of trashy fantasy novels featuring a species of elf serving as domestics for dilettantes who fly around at will on broom adventures, and it’s also why our ideal government is a version of Bill Clinton who has no personality and never fucks. We believe in the economy and the prosperity springing up from it, and we believe in Jesus Christ; that’s why we insist that there’s nothing potentially troublesome about spewing waste products of proven toxicity into the atmosphere with total abandon, and it’s why we believe in cheating the workers we hire, stopping the courts from judicially legislating bans on the use of lethal injection chemicals that will torture the condemned to death from within, putting tenants out on the streets on three-day unlawful detainer actions, barring church groups from hosting free meals for the poor in city parks, and denying school lunches to chronically malnourished children on account of two-bit billing disputes with their deadbeat parents.

The conservative thing to do is to dump trash into the commons, and high Christian praxis is to torture a convict to death in the state’s name, not to be executed like a loser. Duh. The liberal enlightenment is about–what else?–wizard lords, elf servants, and triangulating realpolitik reactionaries who won’t even permit themselves a half-consummated affair with a plump Jewess.

This is why Gavin Newsom is headlong on his way into a genuinely inevitable political crisis. It doesn’t pay to be the grown-up in that room. We’re jumping off from a baseline political discourse that’s stone fucking nuts: sworn liberals who carry on like timid little authoritarians constantly on the verge of shitting their pants and scold everyone over sex, most drugs, posting cringe, sleeping in, junk food, and pretty much anything else that might be fun, squared off against sworn conservatives forever up in arms about liberals taking away their liberties. You read that right, because it’s all wrong. Let not your heart be troubled, though; a public health crisis with no clear end in sight will be just the thing to inject sobriety into our debates and bleach into our veins.

This much truly is not his fault. Nob Hill Dreamboat is doing a damn good job given the alternatives (Cuomo? Dear God), and he’s up against some nasty obstacles in the way of his effort to maintain the semblance of the State of California in this space. There’s no better example of how the Democrats will be sure to tear defeat from the jaws of victory and screw the pooch raw than Nancy Pelosi. Newsom is more helpless than ever to scare some goddamn sense into that bitch, and she absolutely could not care less about what he’s trying with such great effort to do for their neighbors. He’s preppy as fuck, but he’s serious and on point in crises. Then Fancy Nancy shows up and reminds everybody that the two of them share a city and a political party. It’s absolutely vile that a man of such impressively resolute character is forced to navigate the same political waters as that malignant grand narcissist. We’re facing a global public health crisis, and that fucking cunt is up there foodie-vlogging in her mansion with a pastel sweater tied around her shoulders, showing off her freezer drawer full of high-end ice cream.

It is supremely arrogant to expect ordinary Americans not to be incandescent with rage before that spectacle. THEY are calling US deplorable? Come again? We have to wonder when they’ll get the message, or if they even care. They basically don’t.

Cool. That was easy.

They had Trump dead to rights for stirring up deadly communal tensions, all-around crookedness, and apparent gross mental unfitness for office (which he did and said practically nothing to dispel until after his acquittal), so they mounted a Q Anon string flow chart-ass prosecution over incomprehensibly complicated breaches of lawful foreign policy, violations which looked quite defensible on their strict policy merits, all the while insisting that there was nothing at all unseemly about Joe Biden’s crackhead failson holding a flagrant sinecure at a major oil company in one of the two countries where they claimed to have incontrovertible proof that Trump’s activities were illegal. They have the nerve to brag about Biden’s low net worth, crudely attempting to distract the public from his decades of extreme malevolence and public corruption and also from the suspiciously high net worth of so many of his colleagues whose main disclosed source of support was a flat Congressional salary.

It doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. The Blue No Matter Who crew bray about how Trump is so openly reactionary in so many ways, so he cannot possibly outflank a single Democrat on the left. This is pathetic. What the fuck is so outlandish about the possibility that there are two virulently reactionary parties, not just one? What’s so outlandish about the Donald tacking to the opposition’s left 5% or 10% of the time? The same scolds are constantly in a state of high dudgeon that the president is so erratic. #TeshTips, asshole: that means there’s no predicting the guy. He’s facially obsessed with owning the libs, and he starts shit with other Republicans just for kicks, too. He was on the hard left flank of the Republican primary field in 2016 on, at the very least, the permanent imperial war state and labor and industrial policy.

This isn’t to say that he will push left; it’s to say that he may, because he at times already has. Meanwhile we’re told to take Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden seriously when they assert themselves as the saviors to deliver the nation from this reactionary authoritarian madman. How dare we disbelieve them!

Shush, hun. Ask a rude question, get a rude answer, and maybe think about inspiring more positivity in the body politic by showing some fucking manners next time. Some of us actually read about voting records. Some of us pay attention to our officials’ coarse social cues and take them seriously for their policy ramifications.

As with politics, so with wealth: just because Donald Trump is a rich vulgarian doesn’t mean that his opponents aren’t as bad or worse. It’s that renowned liberal rationality again. How could Ben Shapiro not market himself as one of America’s keenest political minds? It’s never prudent for only one party to show up to a battle convinced that it is the only rational and sober one present. That’s how we swooped into Afghanistan and got our asses whipped by Toyota cavalry squads with firepower no heavier than our own gifted surface-to-air missiles, from back when the same militias were smacking the poopoo out of the Red Army, with our help. (Why not?) It doesn’t matter that the Republicans are insane. That never stopped the Taliban when they were forbidding women to leave the house with more than their eyes showing and stoning citizens to death for adultery. The gross truth of it is that the Republicans know their enemy in this fight and they fight to win, and the Democrats don’t. Blackhawk Down may take some light rocket science, but this story doesn’t.

There they go again, wearing their beanbag slippers to an East End pipe fight with James Mack. Gee, why does Mack the Pipe keep braining us all the way to Newport? How? Ow! This is so unfair.

This is the minefield Nob Hill Dreamboat must navigate. He has his wits about him, and he’s wise enough make common cause with the death drive wackjobs across the aisle, but once again, that in no way means that he doesn’t share a caucus with partisans every bit as evil and deranged. As I keep saying, Kamala Harris is the Uncanny Valley Girl of present-day Deukmejian-Wilson reaction. She’s our junior Senator. Saying that Harris and Newsom are Democrats is like saying that Rob Ford and Mark Saunders are both from Toronto. It’s fascinating, but they aren’t both falling-down drunk somnambulant crackheads. Yeah, yeah, I know, the Mayor is dead. Long live the Mayor, etc.

The popular grievances coming to a statehouse near you this summer (or spring!) may veer into the petulant, the overwrought, or the flagrantly bogus. It doesn’t matter. What always matters about these dustups is that people believe in their causes and show up itching for a fight. They don’t pull their crew cabs over on the way down from the fancy-pants foothills and ask themselves, huh, we gross $225k and live in a mansion in Granite Bay with a powerboat in the garage, does this make sense, huh. Of course not. Do any of them look like they do? The point is that they’ve got the damn fire in the belly and know what limbic strings to pull. Nancy’s mansions are fancies. They’re plural. She wants nothing more than to take away our freedoms. Gavin is a Democrat.

It’s irrational, but the mistake the usual shitlib suspects keep making is to assume that the loudmouths at these protests care about rationality or fair play or any of that liberal shit and can be shamed into having some. The lie the same illiberal liberals tell is that they care about the plights of ordinary constituents. This is bollocks. Nancy cares about her ice cream collection. You do gotta hand it to her, if you’ve got a spare carton.

Voters notice. There’s no way around this. Gavin Newsom is as capable as any politician of confronting the crazies and holding the line on public health, but he won’t be able to control the firestorm on the hard fringes if the yahoos get up a full head of steam about how Nancy Pelosi isn’t denying herself the creature comforts due to a woman of her stature, is denying her constituents the right to go to the beach, and is the same nanny state liberal swamp creature as Newsom.

If the most extreme five percent on the hard right get riled up about this stuff it’ll be a huge mess. Different strains of woowoo about the virus being a hoax have already been in circulation on Fox News and the low-class samizdat channels on YouTube and Facebook.  For the more downmarket of these audiences, credence before this crackpot nonsense tracks uncannily with poor clinical treatment, bad bedside manner, abusive and fraudulent billing practices, and poor outcomes in allopathic medical care. Add Rush Limbaugh’s florid, ill-tempered conspiracy theories about environmentalism being nothing but a pretext to strip hardworking Americans of their hard-won possessions and we’ll be having us a grand old partisan time. Dumping sewage into the fishing hole and wondering why it smells or not doing that are just some of the Opposing Viewpoints (TM) that leaven our discourse. What the hell do you mean, it smells? Are you a liberal?

Some of this noise is the seething of angry people who operate in bad faith or the outbursts of the chronically paranoid. Demagogues and grifters are always on duty to activate the angry and the paranoid. It’s one way to look at Trump, but scapegoating him for decades of ugly American politics, or really centuries, is disgracefully reductive and pat. None of this started with him, and frankly in many ways he has toned the ugliness down from prior presidential administrations.

Since his candidacy center-left lcircles have been overrun with hysterical assertions that Trump is the worst, most narcissistic, most dangerous, most evil, coarsest, most sadistic, most out-of-control, most demented, most malicious, most all-around atrocious president in the history of the United States. Few ask, compared to whom? The historical memory to make these extreme claims can’t date back past about 2004, which was roughly when the most acute and dynamic threats to civil liberties and the rule of law under the Bush Administration, Cheney Regency, or what have we finally started to attenuate as the memory of 9/11 at last dulled enough for Americans to think clearly. It takes evidence to demonstrate that the Trump Administration is significantly worse than that, in any specific or broad way, and nobody who carries on about it offers evidence.

By contrast, it’s almost hilariously easy to find #Resistance histrionics who suggest that Trump is the ONLY bad president ever. By their reckoning we have never before been governed by a sadist, a crook, a scoundrel, a narcissist, a liar, a bully, or a manipulator. Instead we were led by men who were, like, a little bit problematic or imperfect or eccentric or whatever. This is full-blown delusional. These wackjobs are aware of past presidents and the rough contours of their administrations. The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind shit starts only when the Donald lurches into view. At that point, everything before 2016 vanishes into thin air: Flint, the foreclosure crisis, Abu Ghraib, whatever the hell really happened on September, the Lincoln Bedroom, Ricky Ray Rector, Iran-Contra, Watergate and the Evenings with Dick Tapes, Japanese internment, slavery.

These things flash straight out of their minds because an oaf is mouthing off at the national dinner party. Trump’s deeds and worst words are of secondary consideration; the triggers is that he yells, rambles, and talks trash. It’s reasonable not to want this horseshit in a president or his White House. It’s even more reasonable not to want the misdeeds enumerated in the preceding paragraph as functions of government.

Many of the histrionics have a big problem with his trashing other prominent politicians: Jeb, Joe, Hillary, Chuck-n-Nancy. Point of order, if I may: what in the hell is wrong with that? They’re all scoundrels, too. Besides, Lee Atwater was never as much fun. Our dude has done a lot of bad things, but one of these was not the invention or reification of racism in politics. Good God, y’all. It’s fucking nuts; might as well stick your schlong in the almond butter jar and go at it.

This bitchfest started in earnest when Trump squared off against the woman who is very arguably the most reviled machine operator in American politics today, a woman whose husband happens to be a rather corrupt and sleazy president emeritus himself. She shows up fresh off an internecine ratfucking, and we’re worried about the ethics and decorum of her opponent? Cool. That’s definitely lucid thought and not at all the psychological projection of an elaborate cult apparatus. It couldn’t possibly be that the Russia horseshit is a projectile outburst or a red herring having to do with our own three-letter agencies and their shady relationships to Clintonworld. Everybody’s panties are in a twist that he doesn’t trust G-men and spooks. You fucken for real, dawg? This dude is somehow a Mancurian Candidate for a latter-day Tsar who shows little but disinterest in him, but the Bushes are not suspect for their custom of holding hands with Saudi princes and kings? Bitch please.

There’s every reason to be distrustful of these scathing denunciations, even paranoid. It’s farfetched to fly to the other extreme and insist that, Nothing But Respect, My President is looking out for the little guy, when he can hardly be counted on to look out for, or at, the same thing for two straight minutes. He does, on the other hand, show that exuberant, irrepressible interest. Hillary? Nancy? GTFO. Neither has an empathetic bone in her body, although Hillz did–does?–from time to time have a bone that feels your pain in hers.

Returning to our springtime airing of grievances, the little guy in this scenario is whoever says he’s the little guy. Is he a dentist? A yacht dealer? It doesn’t matter. It matters that the yahoos show up and fuck shit up, or at least act like they might. Since the prevailing community standard is already to relate to our politicians in bizarre parasocial ways, let’s give some thot to who these characters are as parasocial friends. On the one hand, we’ve got the Chappaqua bitch–it took me a few seconds to place why Chappaquiddick seemed not quite right–with her hundred million-dollar family fortune, her hale philandering husband turned scarecrow, their worse-than-useless faildaughter, and their foundations and initiatives and shit; and on her team we also have the sneering Baltimore mayor’s daughter with the wine estate on Zinfandel Lane, the pied-a-terre at the top of Divisadero, and, but of course, the ice cream. On the other hand, we have the guy with the name-branded archipelago of usually faiiling privately-held businesses, the gilded penthouses, the golf courses, and the sporadic but boisterous interest in factories and mines and the hardhats who run them.

Some will object that Trump is just a better actor. It’s a fascinating critique. Does that sound like a liability in politics?

Now review which of these phonies is on which side of the partisan divide between the austere Puritanism of science and the Cavalier exuberance of opening back up for business. Gee, it’s Donny Fingers for the latter, and the rich girls for the former. We’ve been cooped up, or so we say. Can we have a little day out on the town, as a treat, or can we have a little lecture about social distancing, as a treat? Is it a trick? Look at Nancy. Just look at her. Would you take “candy” from a stranger who approached you like that? Those are Melissa Ann Shepard barista hours she’s living.

It’s exactly what rubs people the wrong way about Al Gore’s climate activism, but for having the government’s blessing just to go outside. Again, what matters here is the perception, not the facts. The amount of showing off that affluent liberals (sic) have been doing about their “quarantine” and “lockdown” routines can’t be doing anything but convincing conservatives (pretty sic themselves) that it’s all a big liberal hoax, just like the carbon thing. #NeverForget: It was a quaranpreening episode that inspired Fancy Nancy to beclown herself with the gelati showing in the first place. It’s plain as day who she has in mind as her audience for that shtick: her fellow virtue-signaling cosmopolitan jagoffs. There’s no better platform for that performance than one’s pied-a-terre in the City. This is, for a party striving to be relevant to a diverse coalition of Americans, the chef’s kiss of messaging.

No, my point isn’t that I care if she lives in Napa. All I’ll say about this for now is that when Milton Street lived in New Jersey, or didn’t, he didn’t care himself, and he was fun about it.

Some have more places to lay down their heads than others. To judge from Fancy Nancy, many homes make for hardened hearts. I personally know people who are hella rich and not the least bit like that–hysterical liberals who watch The West Wing for therapy, sure, but good people–but damned if that miserable hag doesn’t give them all a bad name by confirming the worst prejudices of the rest of us.

She has a base for her stunts: the talented tenth, the aspirational 14%, something in that ballpark. That’s the problem, though. Ordinary Americans despise them with just as much white hot rage. The Democrats can’t even keep the affluent and educated at large on their side because they keep preaching killjoy sermons from their palaces. The stench of the hypocrisy is overwhelming: we luxuriate at home, but you go to your shift at Whole Foods, because you didn’t earn what we did; Uber Eats and Grubhub and Instacart for me, but no Applebee’s for thee.

Many affluent reactionaries are parasites themselves. So what? Their ideology and rhetorical framing are too muscular for them to roll over for coddled, sneering Bay Area pissants. That’s the thing about politics: there’s no monopoly on bad faith. It’s a free market and a free-for-all, not an exclusive franchising opportunity.

Nob Hill Dreamboat’s latest public health order, for the targeted closure of the beaches in Orange County, looks petty and reckless as boss moves go, and yet somehow even that seems refreshingly aboveboard compared to the party standard. Of course, derelict local officials could explain more than a bit of it. What are we going to hear next? Posh cunts in Aliso Viejo refusing to vaccinate their children? In any event, this is not a needle a dipshit can thread. We’re talking about locals whose fathas fawt the Second Wooled Waw, and now we’re telling them that it’s no weekend for a Shaw trip? Eyy, that won’t do, Billy!

Drop the accent and see how it plays in RSM. It might not go over so great. At least Gavin carries himself like a big boy. He doesn’t show up on Instagram looking like, oh, shit, we’re late getting Granny her Xanny. The thing about some of these other coastal elites is that there’s so much ocean for them to enjoy and yet so much of them safely on land, failing to enjoy it. As Guy Hagi says, see you out in the Pacific!

Goodness, that was not an aloha thing to say about a national matron just because she wants us obsequiously serving her for a pittance or, better, dead. We really shouldn’t indulge our minds with such juicy disturbances, yeah? To be fair, Hawaii has a ridiculously passive-aggressive name for its local travelers’ aid outfit, the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, whose latest deal is to ship your haole ass back to the mainland on the company dime if you show up without the money for a fortnight of lodging or the inclination to stay put in that which you’ve booked.

I hate to say it, but it makes more sense than some of the federalism we’ve got in the other 49.

Ah well, I reckon we have a fun summer coming. To paraphrase Louis Uccelini, you may not be ready to shred that shit, but that shit is always ready to shred you. It also applies to Yaakov Smirnoff and politics. The upshot of these nearly six thousand words, then, is that we’ll just have to wait and see what happens when it’s time to head to the beach, baby, beach, baby, there on the sand, from July to the end of September, when, God willing, the rains will at last return.

Airhead conditioning

Scott Simon aired a lengthy Steve Hartman-ass story not long ago about a twee, smug attorney lady who’s sewing masks and getting peers to sew masks. They put a fucking muzak track on as the background. This volunteer homework crew had completed, I believe it was, either 25,000 or 40,000 masks out of a goal of a million. That’s a piss-poor reason to be so loud and self-satisfied, to my way of doing math. I wouldn’t go on the radio and brag about that. Then again, I’m just the audience, not the story.

Do you still wonder how so many affluent American adults have come to cherish the Harry Potter series as nonfiction? NPR aired this happy horseshit as a heartwarming personal-interest story about ordinary Americans rising to the occasion. I can’t shake the feeling that Tocqueville put a curse upon us all by describing us. A sane society noticing that the high Tocquevillean ideal of community voluntarism had degenerated into the official excuse for a catastrophic failure of national industrial policy in the thick of a hundred-year public health emergency would immediately reclassify Tocqueville as John the Baptist to Faulkner’s Jesus.

Happy Easter, bitch. I had a good Friday. Did you? It’s centering to contemplate that we, as Catholics at least, are observing Good Friday as an extended, indefinite liturgical season this year, but it would be encouraging if there were any discernible prospect of national resurrection from whatever we wish to call this grotesque thing we’ve become. Like, we misplaced the industrial capacity to ramp up production of basic all-purpose protective face masks, and in fact we misplaced large parts of our industrial capacity in the infamous Chinese plague city no one in this country had heard of at Christmas, but instead of worrying about that, as mere citizens, warm your hearts with Saturday Morning Arts and Crafts Hour.

The complexity of N-95 masks is a secondary problem. They’re surprisingly simple in their design, and the straps and hooks tend to be flimsy. Besides, bandanas are closer to the protective effects of proper masks than they are to wearing nothing. The blindingly bright red flag is that we’re being told to take in sewing on a volunteer basis to compensate for the failure of theoretically masterful multinational manufacturing companies, including 3M, to adequately supply our hospitals with masks that are de rigueur on any responsibly overseen construction site. It’s like saying that the Quartermaster Corps is all out on R&R until no telling when–gettin’ real used to that beach life on Oahu, might even run into ScoMo–point being, we have to get grandma back into the kitchen and maybe even activate the Sister Wife Reserves. Any attentive person hearing this would think, good God, I thought that’s why those asshole hired cooks.

Normally I don’t much care if somebody’s taking in sewing. This situation is different. Sewing medical equipment at home without pay is a punk move. It’s scab labor, too, although nobody involved understands or cares, to judge from the aw-shucks sunnyside “inspirational” stories that always spring up as word gets out about these efforts, like so many mushrooms on a fresh horse pie. This dysfunctional free homework model comes into operation precisely because 3M is too cheap and venal to pay trained employees to manufacture masks on the industrial scale needed for a large industrialized society. That is, popular self-reliance and pluck among America’s amateur seamstresses frees 3M from the need to exercise the corporate self-reliance and pluck required to operate a proper factory. This Tocquevillean bitch work frees Our Job Creators from the need to create jobs, and in particular to humor uppity employees’ demands for decadent privileges such as pay sufficient to raise a family and a safe workplace.

NPR ran the story, so it’s no surprise that it served to make comfortably furloughed PMC desk jockeys feel helpful when in fact they’re do-gooder idiots. Manufacturing companies have production, warehousing, shipping, and sales departments for reasons, if you can fucking imagine it. Hospitals can’t afford to coordinate supply lines with tens of thousands of random dipshits who read on Facebook that it’s time to make masks and whose skill and quality control are utterly unvetted. As I said, it’s damning that it came to this in the first place. Floor staff want nothing to do with this ramshackle amateur horseshit. If it’s getting promoted under hospital auspices, that’s the administrators’ fault. Marketing ‘professionals” would rather talk about their employers’ branding than go to nursing school or head downstairs and wash the linens. In a number of hospitals the brand has included punishing floor staff for wearing masks. Oops; moron this as we proceed.

NPR pretends to cater to people who seek to understand the world. The last few words inevitably forced their way into my entire mind in Marco Werman’s voice. In practice, NPR is for overpaid Dunning-Kruger asshats who know jack shit about how the world works and therefore presume themselves exactly the geniuses who should run it. Smugly going on the record on a nationally syndicated program to brag about having filled less than 5% of one’s own production goal and either refusing to mention or (likelier) being unaware of the supply chain collapse making one’s amateur scab homework useful in the first place is a good example.

And, because why the fuck not, that bitch preened about her organization and herself like she was telling a story on the Moth Radio Hour. They’ve got these shows on NPR: Moth, Selected Shorts, Planet Money, How I Built This, The Ted Radio Hour, Freakonomics Radio. What’s unbelievable about them, leaving aside the navelgazing Brahmin existential abyss of the arts and culture offerings (bacteria, too, can be cultured) and the dead-eyed, dead-souled, Eichmannic rationality of the core curriculum in economics, is that every one of them dredges up pathetic social climbers who speak in the same fucking voice.

Many of them sound pharmaceutically sedated. It’s even worse than the Mary Mayhew Voice: she’s a scummy whip-wielding schoolmarm, but there’s a working soul rattling around back there. The energy on these shows is that of the belated, quietly frantic remoistening of New England’s upper crust, but it isn’t exactly a regional thing, either: Guy Raz and Stephanie Lazarus are both Jews from Los Angeles. Assimilate the Jews into the Wasp Nest, or assimilate the goys into the Tribe: take your pick, because there’s no redeeming any of them when it happens under the auspices of 21st-Century National Public Radio. Those assholes could drive out to Ronkonkoma and ruin the integration of the Jews and the Italians. They’ve already got David Brancaccio on air, so they’re off to an indecent start.

When Lena Dunham taking the Hampton Jitney out to the shore house to spend the weekend learning the words and the moves to the Fuck You Song is a psychological and existential improvement, we’ve got what they call issues. Entertain your concerns about the Brahmin funemployed all you like; just save a thot or two to ponder the possibility that all is not well with those they left behind, in the workforce (sic). An all too reasonable shorthand for their careers is that they dare not look too closely at what the hell they’re doing with their lives, because if they did they’d realize they’re in a cult. The few open fuckups I knew in prep school and college were WAY better adjusted than the hordes of neurotic social climbers who did the work and maintained the GPA but never looked like they were doing anything more than going through the motions and always appeared to be on the verge of a catastrophic, incapacitating emotional breakdown that they were barely holding at bay. They were much better adjusted than the rich dullards, some of the latter also being low-key sociopathic, who looked more or less emotionally capable of holding down a job but less or less intellectually capable. If I get daydrunk and fall asleep listening to LCD Soundsystem on repeat, and I should do that more often, I’m operating above the community baseline, not below.

I guess there are people with jobs who listen to NPR, too, like, people who do something describable for a living that others would generally agree isn’t a grift or a con. Chris Arnade says long-haul truckers all have opinions on NPR hosts, but trucking is just something for Kai Ryssdal to tacitly suggest bothering your underemployed brats for not taking up when capital is playing chicken with the driver pool again, not something to seriously pursue. This goes to show that everything isn’t always getting worse: Brancaccio once crowed, in the most revoltingly passive-aggressive voice, about how Amazon was hiring for the holidays. What’s wrong with working at a fulfillment center? Uh, everything? It ain’t your fulfillment they’re after, kid, and as Drew Carrey says, that’s why they call it a job, but everything about that job and that company is atrocious. It might take Ikea to design a concentration camp, but it would take Amazon managers to run it.

Things about NPR that don’t make sense as news are better appreciated as quack-quality family therapy with Dr. Karadzic. It’s therapy, so that means you pay for it, although Amazon pays for it, too. Love sponsors! David Brancaccio doing product-placement seasonal recruiting for a company that keeps ambulances on call outside its warehouses isn’t about recruiting temp workers so much as it is about shoring up Amazon’s customer base (we hear it’s the place to work!) and shoring up NPR’s base of pay pigs (you’re the neurotic losers who are still listening to us denigrate your children with your pledge money). Most of these neurotics and creeps don’t actually want their overeducated adult children taking one of those hellworld jobs, getting radicalized on the spot, and reporting back at Christmas dinner that the Brands are Not Good.

There’s a lot of sociology and group psychology going on here. It’s easy to discover some of the many Millennial Success Normies who are really weird around the failspawn, for those of us who didn’t get the memo from Mr. Ziglar about seeing him at the top. The normcore faith in the Economic Recovery from the Great Recession (*Thickest Possible Stage Voice* You want a recession? What rhymes with “recession?”) doesn’t work if the normies stop having jobs. That sweet gaslight, it don’t work on the down-and-out. It’s harder to get people who DON’T HAVE JOBS to believe in the “jobless recovery.” As Rob Ford himself lacked the chutzpah to assert, it was a SOBER evening of whiskey on the rock.

Five million Americans and then some dropped straight off the national payroll in a single calendar year in the heat of a residential foreclosure crisis, and two years later everything was back to normal. For a nation with so much unemployment we’re really fucking squeamish talking about it, just off-the-charts delusional. We had that problem in the First Great Depression, too, although it took more sophistry to deny because the government and the press got caught short by the crash and were forced to report the statistics they had, not the statistics they desired. The deranged psychosocial interplay between the unemployed and the employed is about what should be expected in a society run as a cult by functionally do-nothing elites who believe that work is for Mexicans. It speaks volumes that we still have the nerve to ask one another, and tolerate being asked, what we do for a living. There are appropriate responses to this intrusive question, including “Excuse me?” and “Less than the Mexicans, I guess.” We don’t dare go there because we’re a disgraceful lot of pearclutching chickens, especially for the citizens of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Years ago a well-meaning but abrasive old college buddy who was working as a junior staffer on Capitol Hill who had asked me what I was doing for a living blurted out, “I wish I was unemployed.” Of course he fucking didn’t. What he meant was that he wished he had more time off work. It sounded like maybe he wanted a different job, too. This guy’s shitty job was suddenly my problem because he’d nosed in and made my employment status his problem.

More recently I’ve had people tell me that I wasn’t homeless. What they meant was that I was able to travel, wasn’t destitute, was able to clothe, bathe, and feed myself, wasn’t presenting with acute major mental illness, and wasn’t living under a tarp stretched over some plywood surrounded by a pile of junk spilling out of my shopping cart. They were too ignorant to know this, and in one case entirely too arrogant to care (I should have asked the manager to eject that bitch from the Starbucks in Elko for harassing me), but none of that actually had a fucking thing to do with being homeless. I did not have a safe, stable place to live. I could always crash with my parents back east, but the warm homeless routinely stay with family or couchsurf. I have to say, too, that I goddamn well did not have the patience to explain that homelessness has to do with the lack or precarity of housing, not with being a filthy incoherent bum. Material constraints, cognitive loads, and the intoxication needed to cope with life on the streets turn some homeless people into filthy incoherent bums, but there are propertied people who live like that, too, just without the threat of strangers walking by and bashing their heads in in the dead of night.

That’s what a lot of street people like about Davis. It’s not a terrible place to have a head.

It’s bizarre, then, to watch America turn into a place where idleness is suddenly the in thing. Obviously our bougies are too self-dealing to seek out the stigma of unemployment, but let’s be real: if you can go home, goof off, and still get paid, do you have a job? We have white-collar workers (sic lol) dipping into savings and taking furloughs, but that mainly means that they were never paid to work. It means that they were paid 100-200% of minimum wage to work and the balance of their packages for being clubbable. We aren’t seeing a surge in staycationing among grocery workers. How the hell do you have savings, Anthony?

Idleness became hip when, and because, it became a socially acceptable cause to humblebrag and cudgel to use against enemies. The current PMC boasting about staying in has the same tone as the longstanding, habitual PMC boasting, still in vogue through the first half of March, about going out and working so hard. There are at least two common denominators at play here, both of them embarrassingly low. First, bragging about being a shut-in is the cool new way to be a supercilious virtue signaler. The professional/managerial class is nothing, if not holier than thou. Second, it’s a superficially refined but fundamentally coarse class signifier for a class that loves it some fucking signifiers.

That’s a charitable gloss. It’s far from charitable by any reasonable standard, given its stipulation that these condescending shitheads are looking down their noses at the roustabout servants who go out to fetch them their groceries and restaurant meals. The shelter-in-place orders have provoked a rash of “tipbaiting” incidents at Instacart, in which customers promise generous tips for the home delivery of grocery orders, then greatly reduce or eliminate the tip upon delivery. There’s a traditional word for this practice: fraud. This fraud is of course greatly aggravated by the circumstances of convincing precarious to downright indigent day laborers to risk their health and their lives venturing repeatedly and for long periods into crowded grocery stores. For that matter, this charitable gloss stipulates that these fuckers are cheap and sleazy enough to do business on the gig platforms in the first place, just so they can live large and keep up with their trendy (read: affluent) peers.

The uncharitable, cynical gloss is that, in addition to being predatory cheapskates exploiting an irregular working underclass they were glad to dispossess from reputable aboveboard employment, the PMC is horny for rules. The evidence is, as Lasch might say, revoltingly strong. Shady gig apps are kosher because the VC scumbags behind them bought off or outmaneuvered and outwitted the regulators, making them de facto legal, and of course the rules don’t apply to traditional and customary practices like hiring Latin American peasants under the table as discount domestics. When it comes to rules that allow them to grandstand about their own adherence, though, or to justify their own salaries as scholars and judges of the law, they’re hornt as fuck.

It’s the crassest, most self-serving attitude, and it’s so goddamn smug. It’s the most retarded hypocrisy. These assholes are on vacation from their lavishly compensated make-work jobs, with a surfeit of free time, or at least semistructured time, and instead of using any of it to do their own fucking grocery shopping, they’re preening about how they aren’t allowed to leave the house. It gets even stupider: being horny for rules doesn’t mean reading the rules, unless doing so seems advantageous. Somebody has to provide these useless eaters with their food, and the shelter-in-place orders contain explicit exemptions for grocery shopping. These are the same exemptions allowing Instacart shoppers to endanger themselves and their families and roommates for a pittance. For the love of God the orders in this country explicitly encourage solo outdoor exercise. We mercifully haven’t gone into the technocratic lockdowns proliferating across Europe or, God forbid, the arbitrary militarized chaos of Turkey and India.

The “lockdown,” which isn’t really one, is proving to be the latest bullshit excuse for some of the worst official and semiofficial misconduct. It’s an excuse for cops to go wilding in parks and on public transit over physical distancing violations. It’s an excuse for pampered assholes on partial or total leave from their cushy jobs to exploit and abuse vulnerable casual laborers. Pay attention to the language. These sleazy gig apps never would have flown so easily if their owners, marketers, and customers had insisted on describing them in generally understood terms commonly used to describe the developing world. We had to go All-American and euphemize that shit to death. We have our neighbors working 70+ hours a week driving their social superiors around in their own depreciating cars for poverty wages so low that their cars are the closest thing they have to a home. We have our neighbors scurrying around fetching groceries for the wealthy on a meager commissioned basis, walking up to the doors of mansions only to be told that their customers decided not to pay them after all.

This is the shit we might expect out of India or Brazil. We’re allowing it right here, right now. It’s the next thing to a caste system. In ways it’s uncannily like the Indian caste regime, a priestly, scholarly overclass lording it over various grades of untouchables.

Our caste system is less intricate, so far. In the nineties it was affluent property owners hiring Latin domestic servants of questionable admissibility and work authorization, but sometimes integrating them into their families. Affairs can do the job; just ask the Schwarzeneggers. There’s no need to be THAT bashful about one’s sister wife, here in Pan-American Fork. In the South, this what can brown do for you arrangement has incrementally replaced the classic tradition of the black domestic.

The developments since the crash of 2008 are the really disturbing ones. I thought the fin-de-siècle illegal immigrant nanny/gardener/lover arrangement was bad, and it was. This is worse. One of the most heinous trends is the ever more systematic exclusion of gig workers from restrooms. Restaurants have been barring delivery workers from using their restrooms when they come to pick up orders, on the spurious basis that they aren’t customers. The Sacramento Airport, very recently renovated and expanded at a cost of $2 billion, stages ride app drivers in an exposed remote lot serviced by portapotties. Two billion bucks and they drop a fucking honey bucket on the tarmac. The prohibitive cost of the terminal loop garages keeps gig drivers away from excellent semipublic restrooms that they would almost certainly be allowed to use without interference. It also adds needless driving.

But as Adam Serwer says, the cruelty is the point. The Dalit servant lady must sit on the floor of the empty Metro car to show deference and submission. Who is she to presume herself their civic equal? That fucking cunt? Devyani Khobragade, to my surprise a Dalit herself, repaid the ritual quite handsomely when she got the chance. She had to show who was boss for once.

That’s the godforsaken thing. We have to show who’s boss. The pecking order does not assert itself. We assert it, distinguishing the peckers from the pecked. We insist we must, although rarely in so many words. It’s the gospel we preach with words only when necessary. In a society only recently and haphazadly exorcised of its chattel slavery demons and structured as a nesting doll of bosses inside bosses inside bosses, it would not do to tell the boss off. Being allowed a decent, civilized place to shit for free would convey all the wrong ideas.

Management never cared for the insubordination of the lower orders that proliferated and flourished throught the Great Compression. It was unseemly. It was scandalous. It forced them to live more modestly and even do some work.

And so management pushed back: stack ranking, mass layoffs drug tests, casualization, social media checks, punitive leave, punctuality, and attendance policies, “open door” policies (talk to your boss one-on-one, not your colleagues or your shop steward), unionbusting, “gigs,” “contractors,” nondisclosure agreements, bans on employees disclosing their salaries to colleagues, ad nauseam.

Amazon’s “fulfillment centers” would be impossible in a warehousing job market worth a damn. Turnover would hit 75% per shift. The bosses would get punched out if they had the nerve to come down to the floor and offer a cookie as the prize for winning Power Hour. Managerial tyrants used to get thrown down mineshafts back in the rough old days, for reasons as rough as they were themselves. The only reason they didn’t force one worker to shit in another’s mouth was because they’d get beaten within an inch of their lives if they tried, if not a foot past.

The organizational model of our whole rotten society is to convince sellouts that they have a shot of working for massa in the big house. This is not an exaggeration. Half-assedly compensated line managers at restaurants are routinely given carte blanche authority to abuse their grunts, and they seize it. Franchisees are given equivalent or greater power over their entire workforces. Again, they seize it.

Then we’ve got the bigger cheeses: in rough terms, the Brahmins. The temptation dangled in their faces is the chance to live in the big house. They are offered rule over the realm.

At the top is a small group of true masters of the universe–Chakrabarti in the old country, or Chakrabortty or some other variant. The British actually granted useful local families the right to use this surname. Members of this overclass aren’t usually given keys to the whole world, but they’re given dominion over enough of it not to mind what they’ve been denied, unless they’re uncontrollably power-mad, and many of them are.

The lion’s share of the day-to-day trouble from the Brahmins, however, comes from the high subalterns of the true overclass. In vernacular terms, these are the assholes you knew in college. Curtis Yarvin’s Brahmins clash with his Optimates over the narcissism of small differences: who had atrocious reasons for voting for Clinton versus who had atrocious reasons for voting for Trump, that kind of shit. As a rule, the Optimates directly own manorial properties allowing them to directly oppress or just fleece the proles: dealerships, fast food franchises, independent job-creating small businesses run by America’s Job Creators, themselves. It sounds like the Godhead because it is meant to sound like the Godhead. The Brahmins assert a different but no less disgusting prerogative: the right to rule by virtue of education. They’re priests, you see, not lords.

It’s a grand bitchfest of the Estates. Mind you, the Optimates own much more in the way of estates than the Brahmins do, who resent them for it. Some dealership dad and his cokehead son are proof that the good educated liberals of this fine country are proof that the latter are of good character. We could be worse! Just look at those assholes!

The superfluous liberal (sic) elites (mostly sic), increasingly hanging on for dear life in overheated housing and education markets, in petrified fear of the bottoms below, hate their nominal class peers on the nominal right for living in more affordable regions and having shitty but lucrative family businesses available for the plausibly earned upkeep of their useless, degenerate spawn. I used to drink with a guy back east who the Insurance Schmuck told me grossed $110k working in the main office of his family’s tool business. He could barely stand up most nights of the week. By the time I got done knowing him he’d been talking about leaving the Manayunk crash pad and moving back in with his parents in the hope of getting a grip on his gambling problem, whcih had him playing six online poker games at once and losing up to $7k in a single week. His mother looked snowed to walking death on Xanax the time I met her, mostly by nodding and watching her gaze off into the undefinable distance. His father was another raging alcoholic.

Another thing that gets the Brahmins so sore over the Optimates is the latter’s insouciant assumption that the justifications for wealth and privilege are wealth and privilege. People who’ve devoted their lives to proving that they deserve what they have because they have academically and professionally earned it don’t take kindly to some openly vulgar prick sauntering in and getting all like, yo, bruh, we own this shit. This is a constant subtext to the Hillary deadenders’ shitfit about the Oaf of Office.

I generalize, and I haven’t given much thot to whether it humiliates the Brahmins more when their intraclass enemies outearn them, are worth more, or work less for more. It probably does; it could be another reason why they insist, against great evidence, that Magaland is uniformly poor and practically illiterate. It must rankle to spend decades pretending not to notice The Brands downsizing, putting one chunk of the workforce out on the curb with last week’s trash and dumping its former workload on the other, casualizing what were presumably proud professionals, and just generally screwing over loyal salarymen by reneging promises made during cult programming, to debase oneself so with a steadfast affectation of superior education and critical thinking, and then to watch an unabashedly might-makes-right scumbag with a family business shamelessly plug his shit-for-brains degenerate kid into a headquarters sinecure whose duties are whatever last night’s bender and today’s aggregate stimulant load permit.

Jacob Bacharach says Democrats throw the make-work bullshit jobs at their cronies because they hate their children. This tracks quite well with the Trump Family Organization–for God’s sake Eric looks like a fucking retard–and well enough with Joe Biden standing by while his crackhead son Beau–uh, Hunter–scored a collateral sinecure with Burisma.

One thing that’s clear about these arrangements is that the Democrats prove themselves much more squeamish before insinuations of corruption. It’s that good old happy horseshit about meritocracy again. We’re all educated here. The kid must have earned it somehow. Stop acting like he’s a crackhead; we all know Putin ate his homework. That’s what Putin does. He’s a homework eater. Ask Hillary.

Trump pisses them off by openly not giving a shit. It’s yet another norm he keeps trashing. There’s no moral center to the norms. They are in fact powerfully amoral. President Trump compelling the Secret Service to book rooms and golf carts at Trump Properties because he has cajoled foreign officials into meeting him there for offiical business is every bit as outrageous to these whiny nerds as press conferences about how General Raisin Cane called him “sir” or stream-of-consciousness rally speeches about how he respects the hard hats and likes tariffs.

Any movement predicated on an elaborate gatekeeping apparatus theoretically responding only to merit and whose participants are horny for rules will take umbrage at crude operators like Donald Trump and Rod Blagojevich. There is no fucking way anybody who admires Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or either of the Clintons for their probity objects to Rod Blagojevich for being a crook. That’s a copout. They object to him for being a clumsily crass upstart from the wrong side of the tracks. I was going to add Barack Obama to that list, but I realized that he’s smooth enough, unexamined enough, and had enough sporadic, partial policy accomplishments for voters not to notice that he, too, is a bigtime crook.

The Brahmin-Optimate divide maps pretty neatly onto party lines, then, but not entirely. The Rod Now Spared is a proud and avowed Trumpocrat because he and his fellow celebrity yukked it up and flattered each other in openly crass terms for personal advantage. That shit has to make Obama blanch. Both of them say the quiet parts out loud. Trump in particular is so impolitic that the liberals (sic) who reviled him for being a mentally unfit blue blood prep, and rightly feared his administration at the time (many of them, at least) for what it was doing to civil liberties, now welcome him as a prominent member of the Resistance.

One of the quiet parts they do not with to hear pronouced has to do with the servants. One doesn’t mention them. Here again the Optimates and viable wannabes are more forward about the nature of our socioeconomic regime than the Brahmins dare be. It’s the affluent right wing that is out on the statehouse steps, packing heat and swinging Old Glory in nurses’ faces like a maxi pad hanging from a boner, clamoring for their hair salons to reopen. They need a haircut.

One guy got all kinds of flack for saying he missed sit-down drink refills, which I frankly find entirely relatable, We’re living through strange days, and it doesn’t seem too much to hope to again be able to sit down, have some drinks, and chat with other customers and the waitstaff. What gets me is the uproar of a political movement at once welcoming millionaire funeral directors who look like they cut their own hair and fussy rich bitches who just need somebody else to cut theirs right now and are demanding to speak to the economy’s manager. There’s a specific haircut for it, of course.

This is a bullshit grievance, especially coming from the women airing it. They look sociable enough to know hair dressers and probably be friendly with them. If I’m not totally misreading them, this means that they can make a fucking call and get a bitch to come over and cut hair for a bitch. They’re able to navigate the black market under such easy, nearly turnkey conditions; it’s just that they choose not to avail themselves of it (unless they’re just making it all up, which is a possibility) because they insist on the familiarity and convenience of that specific chair in that specific salon.

They aren’t horny for rules. They love the rules coercing their servants to go to work, such as state regulations barring unemployment benefits to employees who refuse to return to work because they feel unsafe, but the aim there is practical: to get a frickin’ haircut. The reason they want their salons officially allowed to reopen is so they don’t get caught patronizing or operating businesses that have been ordered to close, and also because they don’t mind owing the libs. They aren’t framing it all in terms of virtue; it’s all about flair.

This is a pretty rotten bunch, one that loves bossing servants around, no matter how pleasantly or graciously it does so, or imagines it does. There is, however, a crucial thing to say in Karen’s defense. At least these women admit that they avail themselves of their servants. The main thing they’re trying to do with their protests is to schedule shifts without having the government on their asses about public health. Some of the owners are looking to get back to bossing their employees around and would hate to have them all go indepedent, to become yeowomen (or men!), but they construe this as a private matter, something to let live free of employee recourse to labor law or die.

They’re just being pragmatic scumbags, I mean, goodness, small businesswomen. We’re professionals here. No, not that kind of professional. Ew. Besides, it’s not like these businesses have the cash flow* of a whorehouse, so they can semiprivately be open for business, as she said, but publicly closed due to the current indisposition*, as she said. They don’t even have the cash flow of a business providing what I guess we’re calling nonsensual massage. And, yeah, maybe we have some hangups about some dumb shit having to do with who’s recreationally rubbing whom how and why, but normies, yo.

*(/Sagest Dril voice/ but they care not, of the “Gash Flow”)

The Brahmin position, largely but not entirely overlapping with “liberalism,” is that there are no servants. The intellectual dishonesty alone is reason enough to hate the fuckers. Random strangers magically show up in our lives to help us with shopping and driving and stuff. How convenient! All we have to do is call the universe and it sends them. These yuppies never have a mature, intelligent moment of contemplation about why, exactly, the strangers who flit in and then back out of their lives drop by in the first place to ferry them around and bring them shit. Like, ooh, here I am at 79th and Lex, and this cute Dominican girl from Grand Concourse just brought me a big bag of yummy goodness from Whole Foods, so I tipped her a dollar and she smiled at me, like, totally sincere. Groovy! Karma is good! She told me to have a nice day! Beautiful energy!

Why would these soft cunts approach these matters with anything other than a Gwyneth Paltrow grade of thot? And of course there are other, more openly exploitative customers who dispense with all niceties to instead lounge around their co-ops and just demand stuff.

These gigs suck, and yet many of the customers won’t let themselves imagine that they aren’t all right. They look like a great way to earn some money on the side, especially for secure, affluent people who never do anything of the sort in the way of side jobs. Aside from the cardiac tetanus cokeheads who produce ad copy for Fiverr, the gig platforms are usually effusively sunny about the work-life balance that their drivers or shoppers or whatever can achieve by working part-time and keeping the rest of their time for family, church, and so forth. It’s a sleazy class tell, just like the characters in Harry Potter who are able to fly off on whimsical adventures without academic or professional consequences., suggesting that the author may have been living on a friend’s estate, not just claiming public benefits.

These stories are of course fucking baloney. In the places where these platforms are most used the people running them are almost always desperate, exhausted, barely afloat expendables living in their cars or hotbunking in a slumlord walk-up, doing everything they can to push through another day in hell under a standing cognitive load of 30 IQ points. Doctors in New York City find them presenting at the ER with SARS symptoms, then returning to their full-time restaurant kitchen jobs and the two-bedroom apartments that they share with nine roommates.

The customers don’t hear about this because the servants are trained not to mention it. The conditioning can be as implicit or explicit as it takes; the upshot is that the message fucking gets through. These are expensive cities: LA, SF, NYC, Seattle. Honesty costs tips. Take a stab at equality, and the only bitch that gets cut is your own ass, from the platform. Do punks be feeling lucky?

The blurred lines between master and servant have to be strategically crafted. People who do their own grocery shopping know that the people staffing the Pathmark are paid to be there. They assume the same about nail technicians, automotive mechanics (no worse on occupational pollution and the cars don’t talk back so much lol), and masseuses. Even if they habitually mistreat the employees serving them, they almost always fundamentally understand the nature of the relationship. Clients understand that sex workers fuck them for the money.

The gig platforms operate in an uncanny valley. They have 1099 contractors, not employees, which is bullshit but still de jure or de facto the law of the land most places. They’re work, but they aren’t exactly jobs. They don’t have set schedules. They brag, in fact, about the flexibility of their scheduling.

They’re exceptionally pernicious because they deliberately misrepresent themselves. Not consistently meeting the minimum wage in our most expensive cities makes them exploitative deep poverty jobs. They write computer algorithms to fire the help based on customer reviews. It’s like school grades, but for shitty, exhausting jobs. The corporate behemoths behind these platforms have the nerve to brag about the flexibility they offer when the workers presumably interested in the flexibility can barely get by hustling for their fucked-up business models fifty or sixty hours a week. What the hell is the alternative? Huddling under a cardboard box? Getting run out of Penn Station by transit cops on a nightly basis? Not even having a steady place to shit and shower, and at a time when the gyms have been closed as nonessential, at that?

It takes a peabrained hardline libertarian conception of socioeconomic relations to imagine that this regime fosters a great flourishing of free will for workers. The way it actually works, it does absolutely nothing whatsoever of the sort. Ffs a job doesn’t have to have Kunta Kinte in chains to be exploitative, inhumane, and coercive. The only reason this batshit crazy proposal has any traction is that every officially sanctioned economic philosophy in the United States assumes that our sacrosanct market incentives magically fail to include poverty as a motivation. All these fucking nudges, and none of them is the piercing fear and certain knowledge that not working will cause one to freeze and starve to death, although in fairness working might not be enough to prevent that, either. Any reasonable observer reading just about the dire poverty would guess that the country in question was somewhere like the Congo or Aghanistan, but as John McLaughlin said, *WRONG*. The correct answer is: you get food to eat.

This shit is worlds more delusional than pestering the state government to allow professional haircuts again. The #TCOT agitators behind that want the state to stop interfering in the private labor markets at businesses they patronize. They explicitly want the employer-employee relationship to be reprivatized and relieved of public health regulations that they find burdensome (i.e., inconvenient for their hairstyles). The shitlibs and fellow travelers blithely assume that there is no job market, just an amorphous cloud of angels following their own whims to work, or not, but with one or more of these angels always appearing to minister to their needs. It’s Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, but for servants, but we’ve already been over this, we don’t call them that.

This all happens out in the universe, where everything happens for a reason, but labor policy restricting the license for corporate crooks and their scumbag customers to exploit the reserve army of labor at will couldn’t possibly be one of the reasons for things happening. They just, you know, happen, like the weather or something. We want food, and they want work. It is what it is. It is a postscript chapter of Candide, about the best of all possible curiously convenient arrangements to have out-of-work itinerant peasants meekly fetch provisions and carry them to our castle door whenever we ring the bell.

This best of all possible prole summonings would turn into a real buzzkill if word got out that it’s just a big exploitation racket. ‘T would the mood. Taking desperately poor people who have been artificially coerced into taking hellish, terribly compensated jobs obsequiously serving others and systematically miscategorizing them as happy humble folk just following their natural bliss seems like an odd but oddly familiar tune, perhaps a little Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth. Mercy, O’Hara, that always comes as a shock, but I wish I were just shitposting. Underworked, overpaid shitheads in the metropoles say the same things about their underpaid, overworked servants that whites in the Old South said about their black neighbors. They were happier as slaves, surely preferred this to Africa, just look at that precious pickaninny smile. It isn’t what we want; it’s what THEY want. Sure, we’ll maim or just about beat to death any of them who object, or at least banish them from the day labor market, but goodness, we never seem complain.

The through lines dive underground, but they do not go away. If nothing else, the Planter South stipulated the existence of slavery as an institution. In New York and Los Angeles and other dynamic, forward-looking cities with two thirds of the GDP today, what caste system? There are no castes. It’s the Devil who denies himself as a being. Then, taking recourse to Harry Potter, which we shouldn’t but we must, we discover wonderous questions from the deepest reaches of the intellect. For example, what if the muggles enjoy serving the wizards? Should we feel bad? Like, okay, servitude or whatever is a thing, innit, but what if they like it like that? Is it still wack?

Christ have mercy, that bitch-ass wizard shit is a roman a clef for the English class system and the American racial caste system. We’re reworking these oppressions and horrors into a batshit fantasy series about flying around under the Gothic spires of a public school on a fucking broom. We have all these dumb af character archetypes who are really nothing more than Prince Charles, Our Cockneys, and, like, dingbat Harriet Tubman. Grown adults admit to reading this shit in earnest, with no shame, no gnawing feeling that there has to be more to books than this. Real life is adult stuff, not fun stuff, but maybe this stuff is close enough.

Bitch it is not. Is it any surprise that this shit overlaps so with our current round of semiofficial bearbaiting? I’m extremely familiar with the United States and reasonably familiar with Russia for a foreigner who visited once and still dabbles in the language. The shit I hear said about our alleged geopolitical relations sounds nothing like either of the two. Rachel Maddow is nothing but a neighborhood happy hour drunk who somehow got a high-profile platform to comment on the “news.”

And is it any surprise that both of these shitty mats of cultural detritus, MSNBC and Harry Potter, intersect in such an impenetrable spaghetti bowl with The West Wing? That’s the #content our presumptuous erstwhile rulers crave: a real-time reimagining of the Clinton Administration under a boring chaste nerd, not a fun horny nerd. They refuse even to romance us on the way to the electric chair, Mr. Thurmond. That retardedly self-important outpouring of prestige television is as useful a vehicle as any for the delusion that Bill Clinton exorcised our nation’s racial demons, when in fact he liberally fed them. Food to eat: that’s liberalism, too, kid, in America.

Say, might be some left over on Ricky Ray’s tray. Bless, o Lord, these thy gifts.

Faulkner wasn’t kidding. The past is not dead, but this gallon jug of Bourbon is. It starts to feel impossible to get anything done through political channels when these navelgazing freaks keep blocking them. What else should I say if factions within the Republican Party now seem more amenable than the Democrats to reality-based living? Bernie Sanders is not realistic, but Josiah Bartlet is? Joe Biden comports himself like he’s always recovering from a trip to the East End of Cincinnati for neurosurgery from James “Mack the Pipe” Mack. I guess that’s what we’re calling compos mentis these days. Up in Over-the-Rhine there’s a $20 blow-and-go to be had if you don’t mind the brick house blowing it, but I’m sure that price, too, is just the price the universe floated to and settled on in its cosmic wisdom and not the highest starting bid our thick sister was willing to offer because she was poor and desperate for cash.

We’ve really gone off the Reality Reservation lately as a polis. Our main political parties, both aggressively aristocratic, are, respectively, a postmodern full-on reactionary death cult, currently demanding an officially sanctioned afternoon out for a long-acting Jim Jones Kool-Aid cocktail, and a modestly less death-cultic but equally postmodern collection of ostensibly “liberal” and “progressive” authoritarian chickenshits trying to swaddle themselves against perceived threats that may or (likelier) may not be present, all from the arrested developmental age of a slow sweet sixteen. This latter “left” party resents the hell out of Bernie because he’s a no-nonsense Jewish grandpa, not some out-of-touch putz showing off his top-of-the-line home refrigerator full of high-end ice cream. The former, paradoxically, includes officials who don’t mind the old socialist because they have weird patches of common ground with him, as well as voters who might defect either way across the divide, passing over the perpetually adolescent crybabies and drama queens none of them can stand.

The partisan standoff over the Dread Ailment is not simply one of science and reason versus superstition and the economy. The average shitlib Democrat believes in science the same way the average right-wing nutjob Republican believes in Christianity. Cue Gandhi musing about Western Civilization as such a fine idea. There are those in the mix who seek out the truth in a spirit of genuine intellectual and moral curiosity, but they murmur into a void awash in the stupidest, crudest, most ulterior screeching. Public health restrictions might seem less onerous if one’s favorite services are allowed to maintain full operations (GrubHub, UberEats, Netflix) than if they are not (hair salons, the dining room at Applebee’s). In this light it’s all a petty cultural dispute having nothing to do with public health.

Paranoia that secular elites are using the crisis as an excuse to crack down on religious gatherings may be warranted. I stress: may. There are Dawkinsbots squirming around in the woodwork with smug glee that Easter services got canceled because they were all bullshit anyway. On the other hand, it sure looks like that dumb fool in Virginia got himself killed by going to church. Personally, I’m pining more and more for Mass and confession, but it still looks like a pretty inopportune time to welcome the parish’s sick elders back into the sancutary, exchange the sign of peace, and all drink from the same cup.

Once again, it’s a cultural weed thicket we’ll exhaust ourselves trying to explore. Like any other crisis, this one is activating the bad actors to exploit it for all it’s worth. We’re extremely lucky in the United States, for the most part, that there has been so little government overreach in the response. We have overwhelmingly been left free to go about our daily lives. NPR segments have been allocated as veal pens for teachers’ pets and busybodies to grandstand as private citizens instead of warping official policy to their whims and using the full coercive power of the state to enforce it.

But this is just for the lucky among us. There are neighborhoods the police chronically terrorize, sometimes even with the complementary assistance of nonsworn street gangs. We have our prisons. We have our SRO’s, our workingman’s flophouses, our encampments, our residential parking strips down by the bay and the tracks on the poor side of town.

It’s plain as day that we are not actually taking this shit seriously. Inept, derelict shitheads like Carolyn Goodman are still being allowed basically full latitude to fuck around and fuck up without state or federal intervention. Nobody ever does a thing for the homeless. It’s taken a public health emergency in which they’re confirmed vectors of communicable diseases that rampantly transmissible among the housed, not just other homeless, to move the above statement from 99% true to 95% or maybe 90%. Any adequately engaged government with jurisdiction over Clark County would have immediately moved in and forced the city and county governments out of the way the day the goddamned social distancing squares were painted on that parking lot with a direct line of sight to and from hundreds of vacant hotel rooms. We, whoever the hell “we” are, are doing little about congregate living disasters in general, ones that should have been made superfluous decades ago. It’s taken weeks to months to start emptying prisons in earnest, and so far the effort has been disastrously hit-and-miss. For the love of God prisons, flophouses, squats, encampments, and other crowded, filthy congregate living arrangements with poor to nonexistent utilities have been known breeding grounds for communicable diseases for centuries.

It is not that we don’t know. It’s that we don’t care.

Then there’s the very suspect official about-face on masks. Nobody I’ve seen in a position of authority has given a credible explanation of what motivated the initial opposition to the widespread public use of masks or the recent and in many places abrupt reversal. That which was forbidden is now mandatory. All that is not mandatory is forbidden. Hospital and supermarket workers were begging for weeks to be allowed to wear masks and told to shut up and go back to work. It would scare patients. It would scare customers. Some defied these orders and were punished. Some were fired.

The original party line was that mass mask use would deprive doctors and nurses of N-95 masks. These are the same masks that DHS and other federal agencies have been seizing on arrival, almost certainly to resell on the black or gray market, along with other medical supplies. They’re scalping masks and ventilators. Charlie Baker had to get Robert Kraft to send the Patriots’ 767 to China to bring a shipment through Anchorange and into Massachusetts unmolested.

This shit rightly pissed ordinary Americans off. It was reckless and outrageous, all of it. Citizens very reasonably protested that officials were trying to get us all killed. After weeks of this furor, the authorities started to come around. Like, shit, that sounds like a good idea; we’d hate to get anyone killed. From that point public health officers moved quickly, to the extent that full mouth and nose coverings are now required to enter enclosed public spaces in much of the country.

If they wanted conspiracy theories about the pandemic, they did exactly the right things to culture them. Keep in mind that the current outbreak surged from a baseline level of public trust corroded by years of escalating celebrity woowoo about vaccines, autism, probiotics, pH balancing agents, and the dangers of allopathic medicine in general, itself facilitated by the blatant, widespread, officially unacknowledged failures of allopathic medicine. The pandemic has accreted to this already voluminous corpus of quackery, conjecture, rumor, and fraud prolifc Facebook conspiracy theories about, among other claims, the government having programmed the virus with a kill switch that it will flip once it’s killed its full quota of constituents. Mainstream Republicans have cast their lot with the Trump Organization’s fixation on hydroxychloroquine and similar compounds as cure-alls, a fixation driven by a barely scrutable combination of insider trading, extrapolation from preliminary clinical research, and Owning the Libs. Trust in mainstream medicine is now more than ever a hallmark of affluent Democratic orthodoxy. It’s a Brahmin Thing. That, and refusing to look at evidence that medical, quasimedical, and pseudomedical authority figures are ulterior, malevolent, or just fuckig inept.

It breaks down once again along lines of class, caste, and subculture. Dr. Oz is a touch on the low-class side for the proudest Brahmins, and Facebook samizdat is absolutely way too far over the line. Bill Gates, though? Dear God is he a creep, but he has his foundation. A reasonable, critical person, even one discerning nuances in his motives, as I do, has to look at the scope of the Foundation’s work and wonder whether maybe the foil hatters aren’t wrong about the guy.

;There are reasons why the streets don’t trust authority figures in these situations. Even if the proles are spelunking rabbit holes that yield no bunny, they’re touching on, if not directly raising, compelling questions about the trustworthiness of the governments that now claim to watch out for them with an eagle eye. Ask yourself: after Tuskegee, Pruitt-Igoe, the mass sterilizations, the eugenics craze that attenuated only slowly after the Gilded Age crashed along with the international economy, Flint, the postwar Nevada bomb tests, and the Anthrax scare of 2001, is there anything farfetched about gain-of-function experiments gone awry at Fort Detrick? The Chinese counterpart, sited impressively close to Wuhan, is also an acceptable answer. Correct? We just do not know.

What we do know is that the authorities aren’t telling us. At least they’re finally telling us to wear masks, although it would be nice if they didn’t encourage us to be showboating assholes about how we’re toiling away at home like so many Keebler Elf wives to manufacture them.

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.

All of a sudden all these things become unnecessary

Let’s name some of them, bearing in mind the local and factional caveats and other stipulations, but nevertheless, let us name a few, just from memory:

–Evictions;

–Foreclosures;

–Crosstown bus fare;

–Sitting in a tollbooth all the live-long day;

–Office jobs;

–3-1-1 quart Ziploc horseshit at TSA checkpoints;

–Business air travel;

–Winery tasting rooms;

–Tendentious objections to zero-barrier immediate rehousing of the homeless;

–Incarceration;

–Going to school;

–The sacrosanct quadrennial in-person voting pilgrimage;

–Constantly jumping through hoops for medical care;

–Moral hazard whining about UBI disbursements.

Yang Gang, you up?

It makes a constituent wonder whether any of these things were ever necessary, and of course they weren’t. We discover, to the surprise of our worst public intellectuals, that there are still a number of very necessary things: hospitals, groceries, auto supply stores, gas stations, farms. Our radio stations are still on the air; some of us still listen to them entirely too much, but Fat Cracka ain’t even tryna resist DJ Beth Holland Huizenga. The radio: why yes, Mr. Osgood, I will see you on it.

If you’re paying attention, you noticed that the examples just listed are not like those listed at the top. It hardly takes any attention to know, on some level or other, that the former list covers much of what is officially misconstrued as the American economy. Dear God, I fucking thought the last half of that sentence in the Kai Ryssdal voice. Remember what I said about too much radio, kids? That’s fine; I don’t exactly myself. All the same, NPR is like the Tenderloin: you can learn interesting things there. For one, this new dispensation has at once home-confined and spatially liberated Brian Wattttt. For another, it has freed up seats on BARTTTT.

Cut me a break; I’m not listening to Randol White People these days. Watt’s going on with that, Devin. We ought to wonder, though, what it means that traffic and ridership are down 80-90% through multiple notorious bottlenecks, with maybe a 10% drop in total capacity for immediate provisioning of necessities and a stark, sudden improvement in provisioning for certain chronically vulnerable demographics.

There’s an old unholy trinity to describe what went away, old in the same sense as prestressed jeans: waste, fraud, and inefficiency. This term of art is traditionally deployed, in the ancient and venerable connservative tradition of making shit up, as a slur against the government. Mainly it’s used against the parts that work well, such as Amtrak and the Post Office, and withheld to spare those that don’t, such as the armed forces and what we fancy the criminal justice system.

In our current state of emergency, this trinity transforms from scurrilous agitprop to helpful descriptor. Safeway is still operating, frantically. The dense archipelago of cube farms whose inmates were free to sit around repeating what she said as variable combinations of personal entertainment, foreplay, and sexual harassment mostly are not. I keep shouting it into the void: it speaks volumes that The Office is so prominent and popular as an eminently relatable satire of our lives (Who the hell is us? What is this? Bethel Park my fat white Lebanese ass) and not as a serialized work of transfixing Faulknerian estapism, a story in the same broad genre as novels about unemployable paranoiacs who hoard trash.

None of that is what a reasonable observer would call a workplace. I once chatted with a barely solvent flimflammer with a drinking problem who was theoretically selling insurance by day and less theoretically dating a dentist’s widow and the same dentist’s daughter by night. To his gushing amazement, he and I knew the same community-trust retard from Plymouth-Whitemarsh, a smelly fat fiftysomething who liked to go poolside and clumsily hit on thots. The guy was better at storytelling and getting that dentist’s sloppy seconds than he was at sales, but he was way too well-behaved and well-meaning to keep Jim, Pam, or for fuck’s sake Michael company. Meanwhile I hear nine-to-five normies saying shit like, oh my goodness, anyone who’s worked in an office can relate to that show. Huh? Good God, y’all, it’s no wonder we leave the getting shit done to China.

Git ‘er done. Say, I believe that’s what Mr. Jefferson barked at his fellow Virginians.

Emergency or not, we’re inevitably stuck on a timeline in which the toxic racialization of work and play pervades our lives. I get my fix through–what the hell else?–NPR. A fruit grower in Smithsburg, Maryland is the latest whiny landowner to go on the record with his grievances about how he had to charter a van to drive an eight-man beaner crew all the way up from Monterrey with the same focus a caravanner would need to get across the Nullarbor Plain and through the quarantine station at the state line on fumes by 1:30 pm sharp. Smithsburg is just across Camp David from Thurmont, where I insist on a drive-by pilgrimage to a community of some of my favorite peach trees whenever I’m solo and mobile in Maryland.

One ridge over from the Catoctin Furnaces and that son of a bitch was on the radio to piss and moan about how Yanqui never does him a damn thing. These sob stories always seem to feature enrolled members of the Wypipo Nation complaining about their fellow tribesmen. The lib owners of our great land love to titter about this hypocrisy and self-loathing, but it is categorically little to nothing of the sort. Lazy Americans, in these cases (Many Such!), are Americans who don’t own land. This landless refuse is commonly denigrated as white trash, explicitly or more often implicitly, or alternately as the coddled affluent, to distinguish this shitcannable mass from the farm owners defaming them, who are in no way proudly living off the avails of disposible Mexican reserve army labor.

This is at first blush a downhome pastime down at the corner of movement conservatism and liberal wokescolding, but it’s more than that. Complaining about lazy Americans under a whitening gloss, as opposed to the OJ-ready darkening gloss so cherished by Cliven Bundy on his trips to North Las Vegas, is a great way to ward off the idpol scolds on the cultural left, but it’s also a great way to avoid drawing unwanted direct attention from, say, Baltimore City’s unemployed. Too much frankness might cause them to notice that they’re in the same deplorable basket as the average Great Value Catoctin Cracker, and that would be way too reminiscent of an integrated Depression-era crab cannery union on the Eastern Shore. For God’s sake, boys, you don’t tell them that the steelworkers had an integrated local in Birmingham years before anyone out of state had heard of Edmund Pettis. We put the Ashokan Farewell fiddle track on the turntable and reenact Antietam, but we don’t do any of that nostalgic shit for Bacon’s Rebellion: insufficiently recent, perhaps, but certainly too unpleasant.

Speaking of the panda bear poor, guess who’s stuck manning the groceries this month. Asian-Americans are reported to have the highest rate of work-from-home capability, albeit still under 40%, much lower than the American press corps today assumes, and we aren’t talking about Camobians or Laotians here lol. The Onion ran an article years ago about how more and more Asians were defying stereotypes by being lazy and poor, just to show that outfits of its class don’t hire writers out of Fresno or Elk Grove. Any of these insipidly inspirational ethnic narratives is prone to run violently aground, and those who have the stomach to watch are in for some reliable entertainment, but the navelgazing, inflammatory multicultural horseshit is a red herring as much as it is a direct outburst of culture. The ethnic festival genre is a useful veal pen for the less competent and ruthless surplus elites our diseased apparatus of social reproduction keeps shitting out into the job market. The money and prestige aren’t what’s on offer in “consulting” or in i-banking, as a rule, but they’re adequate to forestall the working-class agitation that the wingnut welfare cases across the aisle conflate with Joseph Stalin and Ebonics, under the categorical umbrella of The Left.

It’s worth reiterating here, for the vast majority of pundits and think tank sinecurists who can’t fathom anything so self-evident, that American academia is NOT part of the left. Oberlin is a fucking sideshow. That shithead dean from Tisch who livestreamed herself dancing to REM in front of hundreds of highly educated, downwardly mobile witnesses studying under her authority, by way of refusing to refund their prorated tuition and fees for the cancelled balance of the semester, is the actual revealed moral center of the postmodern American academy. Larry, Jerry, Joe, and Jim worked at right-wing juggernauts. So many states, so few coaching methods! All we have to do is compare how many Americans watch NCAA football or–good riddance for once–March Madness to the audience for the published works of the academic divisions of the academy.

Think about that: we have to fucking specify that these academic institutions have academic operations somewhere in the back of the house. Our young people aren’t being brainwashed by this cabal of hopelessly tweedy dorks. Maybe it in fact exists as a movement. Who fucking cares? Nebraska Coeds exerts more cultural influence.

We may not have sports in our time, but, as always, it’s time for #SPORTS! Hollywood shysters like Harvey, Woody, and Roman notwithstanding, and assuming that the arts scene is credibly liberal (i.e., ignoring most of the blockbuster filth it releases), the lion’s share of institutionally facilitated abuse in the United States seems to arise on the right: churches, jails, Jungleland, organized athletics, Scouting. Chesterfield my leg, but usually not in the theater!

Or the theatre! Even assuming that repertory theat[e]r[e] is run exclusively by sex pests, there just aren’t that many theater kids. Nobody watches that stuff. A couple of years ago I dropped a ten spot, I think it was, on a repertory production of Oklahoma at Lebanon High School. A buddy from the berry patch was in the pit orchestra. It fucking whipped. This is the same institution of what we’re encouraged to call education where, if you go out back under the bleachers, they’re not gay, but $20 is $20. I could have brought a date, or I could have bought a date. As my late Kansas State alumni dependent grandmother always said, as a business school graduate herself, shucks.

It’s truly providential that the 2020 Summer Olympic Games have been cancelled. Postponed, delayed: I don’t give a shit; we’ve got a reprieve for a minute. As bullshit economic models go, wholesale intercontinental air travel for the aggrandizement of Bob Costas’s sense of purpose in our world is a whopper. Like every other skybox grandstander you or I could name from the boob tube, only more so, that pompous gasbag has netted more than enough ad revenue distributions to retire to a poolside bar or a squash court or whatever. These are the same games under whose auspices Matt Lauer committed a forcible rape while on assignment in Russia. NBC paid that guy meaninglessly huge amounts of money, he still worked himself like an Amish plowhorse, and he still raped subordinates instead of hiring his pick of working girls. This is of course the same international celebration of athletic greatness that hosted and served as the blessed channel of Bela, Marta, and Lawrence of the Labia. It’s the premier international excuse for eminent domain overreach, construction cost overruns, and white elephant featherbedding. Governments fight each other for this excuse to waste their constituents’ tax payments on lavish receptions for objectively useless foreign entertainers.

This is a beast I don’t mind seeing starved. Whatever national government is the most slickly, aggressively crooked and self-promoting wins the honor of dropping billions of dollars on theoretically reusable flagship venues built expressly to reconvene a quadrennial international exposition on the premise that any given sovereign nation is home to up to a hundred citizens whose accomplishments are remarkable enough to celebrate, but that certainly most of these elite athletes and their teams will fly home officially judged losers, duly humiliated before the world’s television spectators, in the short due course of time.

The cancellation of this spectacle is traditionally inspired by war, but pestilence will do. The Japanese Olympic Committee rode that wave all the way into the Fukushima seawall. I’m just saying, they know construction; they keep it safe. National pride was on the line. A couple thousand of the most pathologically competitive freaks on the face of the earth, earnest young things who had scheduled years of intensive training to optimize their competition performance down to the hour, stood to be heartbroken by, say, the organizers over in the sweet home of New Chernobyl noticing with rising alarm that their country was most prominently in the interational news for having a death ship quarantined in Yokohama Harbor. It took weeks of bitterly tenacious optimism in the face of a proliferating global health crisis for these fools to finally Christopher cross over from pigheaded boosterism to the minimal prudence of, you know, not going through with that.

The international camaraderie of sport can, in fact, wait until a safer time. How bow dah. This whole story is a sensible one to tell me, the slow-moving widebody from the no-cut high school cross-country team; surely these are all well-adjusted young women and men with good reasons for subordinating themselves to the likes of Nassar and the Karolyis. These are the role models we need for our impressionable children. These ceremonies and competitions are a prudent and compelling use of public funds.

I’m General Stroganoff, and you won’t believe what’s for dinner. Hint: it’s a lil sumpin I’ve got with the IOC. Honestly, there is no suitable time to get back up on that earnest bullshit, but as I said, we’ve currently got ourselves a breather, a grace for which we should all, in these contagious times, give thanks.

It gets even worse than the waste and public corruption of the Olympics. Qatar is Shanghaiing slaves to build its World Cup stadia. On the sunny side, though, and you’ll like this one, Chester, football is a sport whose players are constantly getting “injured.” That is precisely the respect international competitive sports deserve. Sepp Blatter is just what happens when the simulation overheats.

Different football, Hernandez.

Some of us are never ready for some. It’s past time, then, for there to be less of the worst of that crap. We are actually, if haltingly, getting back to basics. We’re honest to God cutting hunks of bullshit out of our lives and our societies. At long last we’re moving beyond the shady, questioable minimalist preening of Marie Kondo and all the #VanLife and tiny home influencer asshats. A drive-in storage unit around the bend from the clapboard church gun shop in Yelm stacked to the ceiling with old clothes and blankets was never our true clutter. That old soldier living in the woods out past Fort Wainwright with a barn whose second floor was on the verge of structural collapse from all the junk–the ornery shut-in sourdough who totally had a buddy lined up to buy this truck here, and another guy he knew lined up to buy that truck over there, just gimme another day or two–that gentleman, our broadcast entertainment, led a mentally clearer life than many Americans. Most of the people gawking at him from Outside (your facility carry that show, Rollins?) weren’t living any more purposefully than that. Why else were we watching Hoarders? That crusty geezer, at least his clutter had some resale value.

I said SOME, now.

New contagions emerge from Fort Detrick–goodness, I mean from the wet markets of Wuhan. New heroes rise up unexpectedly from the dust, flawed heroes and yet real ones. Nevada supported itself for decades through what came to be known, quite charitably, as gaming. The authorities did not a thing to regulate it, save some underage decoy stings and weights-and-measures checks. Then Steve Sisolak decreed the new economy. Like, hey, guys, we’re making some changes. You can move into the no economy, and many of you in Goldfield already have, but casinos? Game over, Lansky. We’re whole-ass Doctrines and Covenants quitting that shit, cold turkey, right here, right now.

That was it. Decades of cultural inertia and public corruption straight down the Thomas Crapper, in the name of public health. Tens of thousands of Nevadans woke up with the fresh opportunity to do something honest for a living, in many cases by honestly doing nothing. The hell else were they gonna do? This is the state where an active gold mine on the outskirts of town wasn’t enough to prevent Armpit Days. This isn’t a population chomping at the bit for an honest mode of living.

It’s the kind of bold move that gets the constituents antsy, and there’s bad karma to be had in gloating about thousands of line workers losing their means of support and the daily structure of their lives upon the sudden closure of the crooked business until this month employing them. The serendipity of Sisolak’s order, however, had nothing to do with trashing the keystone of Nevada’s formal economy and moving its workers’ cheese. The governor’s master stroke, rather, was to dramatically wash away all the cultural detritus surrounding Nevada’s storied place in American gaming, like so much winter trash at last floating inexorably down to the Indian fishing grounds with the alpine spring thaw, and humble the Chamber of Commerce boosters for the first time in their lives. These, you see, are the cheese movers, not the cheese chasers. Shoe don’t fit so great on the other foot.

It’s a new day in a brave new world indeed for this seedy cast of characters. Their firewall of horseshit about what makes Nevada Nevada is gone, and they aren’t the one with the authority to invite it back home. They aren’t used to not calling the shots. A teeming scrum of shysters is moping around the Chamber offices, impotently moaning, buh buh buh Governor, this is our folkway! We already have the Reed Rez out in Searchlight. We have our Napoleonclaves for the hardliners. Besides, we all know why we get visitors from Utah. If they wanted to enjoy a plate of jello salad and an invigorating glass of milk, they’d stay in American Fork. Oscar Goodman is our spirit animal! We’re, like, culturally Italian Catholic, like Mr. Martini from that retarded Frank Capra Christmas flick!

It’s a cool story. So is the one about what the working girl said to her client back in Ol’ Virginia City: “No, Father, you’re taking a bath first.”

Don’t look at me. Our popular fiction is about wizards and shit.

This new dispensation is, alas, only a partial cleasing, an incomplete Releasing of the Bullshit. Government, that name for the things we choose to do together, continues to do much to and awfully little for the homeless. Perhaps we aren’t together with them, however we choose to define any of that. There are now social distancing bums’ squares painted on a parking lot in Las Vegas, beneath empty hotel rooms with windows illuminated in a heart. #VegasStrong, you shitty loser. The poor in general, it seems, aren’t exactly part of us, either, especially for the Democrats. Chuck and Nancy are means-testing pissants, and Josh Hawley is a welfare liberal now: truly a horseshoe theory in which the horseshoe goes straight into the political observer’s head. Shh, don’t tell the Washington press corps; they’ll have strokes. As I keep saying, Trump hardly even has to try to be left-liberal; all he has to do is get bored and own the libs.

Mainstream American culture, politics, and policy are so hostile to the poor that these weak, partial, still slow reforms are watershed moments. Gavin Newsom and London Breed talking about not just talking about doing something for the homeless is, by the standards prevailing prior to this crisis, active. Decisive. Effective. I understand Nob Hill Dreamboat and Garcetti and the gang are actually kind of doing something here, fitfully and ever more belatedly. It might be, as ever, the hour to show another month of patience for the failure of one of the wealthiest societies in history to get one’s sorry ass into a decent budget apartment. Alternately, it might be an outrage that it took a discreetly homeless Panera employee five minutes to correct one’s modestly botched rush order.

We have things to do and places to be and grievances to air, unless, of course, we don’t. We see California’s officials, all in all a reputable and responsible lot compared to the domestic alternatives, only timidly dipping their toes into the water of eminent domain. Granted, we’re talking about basic constituent services here, and this is no time to build a ballpark, but, say, that’s the whole fucking point: we have a plague on, and this is no time to build a ballpark.

That’s the damn rub. Even in crisis old habits don’t die easy. Process-oriented stakeholder-responsive processes respond to the stakeholders. If that sounds solipsistic, it’s because it’s solipsistic. If you don’t like holding your own stake, ask Beavis if he’d mind. Hehheh hehheh. The process responds to those who force their way to the table and lay it right out there, just like LBJ.

That is, property owners. Garcetti, Breed, Nob Hill Dreamboat: these characters are too bashful not to ask the owners for permission and then wait for it, and wait, and wait. Asking permission of the tens of thousands of constituents they continue to abandon to chaos, squalor, and mortal danger would be a bridge too far.

It might, then, be time to rock straight over London’s head. Shit, I like her and mostly trust her, and it’s a surreal thing to say, but one of the few ways out of this mess is the Wesleyan tradition. Scream like a wild animal at Wynn and the Hiltons and the Marriotts and the ghouls at Blackstone and all the other cocksuckers until they hand over the keys, pending an official determination that the crisis has abated sufficiently to allow a return to normal business. Does this look like an art store?

Besides, eminent domain takings usually include fair market compensation. Again, this is no time to build a ballpark, and since that isn’t what we’re building, we can rest confident that the owners will tolerate nothing less than fair market. It’d be like Trump suddenly “having to” rent rooms to his Secret Service detail. (The Clintons must resent him, having inherited from Mr. Lincoln and the nation only one spare bedroom.) Hey, I don’t have a problem with this. Not at all. I’d like the government to get a bulk discount, but lawyers also clean up large details, and I haven’t been innocent in decades.

Refusing to be an elected accomplice to homicidally antisocial gangland rentier thugs is a process of its own. Cool. We’re definitely being mature and responsible and responsive in these not at all urgent matters. But it’s Saturday night. Let’s get this fucking party started.

If you don’t mind death

That’s a fascinating viewpoint. What I want to know is this: what if you do?

Donald Trump said that in a moment in which he was possessed of Ricky Ray Rector’s understanding of death. I do not mean to shitpost here or make fun of him. This is precisely, descriptively, functionally, literally what Rector was thinking when he scored his A+ on the Marshmallow Test by saving his pie for afterwards. Scout’s Honor I am not trying to fun the Donald, not this time. Our metaphysically challenge executive friend here is the head of state and government in the sole extant global imperial power, if we still wish to exclude the infrastructure diplomacy of Red China. Ricky Ray got the launch codes this time. It’s obviously hilarious, too, a good cause for ridicule, but ooh boy.

South Park bizarroworld though that stream-of-consciousness (unconsciousness?) was, it’s basically the Beltway consensus of the two major parties, artlessly stripped of its traditional and customary paint job. The state and local parties push the same heinous shit, of course, with some merciful deviations but not many. It’s an awesomely bipartisan praxis. The two parties play bad cop-worse cop in this vicious game, Brentwood Mark Fuhrman as the foil for Homan Square Jon Burge.

Trump, at once to his credit and his discredit, was in no way mentally awake enough to be morally crooked, as we might tell Chester if he field our legs. There’s no way his saying that was immoral or even amoral, let alone heinous; it was too thoroughly fucking retarded. There was no moral, philosophical, metaphysical, or other form of thought of de minimis maturity. He blurted that out in the course of a quick dive into the infinite void of his own mind, like, if you don’t mind spending an extra buck on the Impossible Whopper, or being killed by this plague I’m not really bringing under control.

Since we’re on the topic, but barely, we might assume, under more normal political circumstances, that his throwaway comment about death would be impossible, but either way, it’s no whopper. To lie, gaslight, push the Overton Window, or even just deliberately bullshit, a person has to be at least vaguely aware of what’s under discussion at the moment. Trump was when he bragged about being able to walk outside and shoot somebody in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue. This was something else entirely. Fifth Avenue? That’s a nice candy bar, a phenomenal candy bar, if you don’t mind it, or maybe you like animal crackers. We love our animal crackers, don’t we. Pecan pie. We love our pecan pie, too, and as long as you don’t let the flies get to it, it keeps.

It was jarring and at the same time refreshing, even encouraging, to find a politician talking about death with absolutely no concept of death. Trump’s colleagues damn well understand death. They may not think about it deeply, or seriously, or reverently, but they understand it adequately to rest assured that Ricky won’t be coming back for dessert. These are heinous monsters who casually order the annihilation of people they dislike and then publicly revel in it. Trump does that, too, although less consistently. Does he do anything consistently? Fucker has the attention span of a squirrel on crank.

The reason he mentioned not minding death was that he’s been bombarded in recent weeks with reports and projections of death. Talk of death flooded his field of vision. It filled his ears and washed through his mind. Free-associatively regurgitating it on camera was the same monkey-hear monkey-do topical freestyling he always does about whatever combination of news. Fox News, back-of-the-house whispers from the clashing factions of court Rasputins, and other physically repeatable noise he’s been hearing on a regular basis over the past thirty seconds to twelve hours. He’s one of the crudest, most impulsive, most distractable public figures we’ve had the honor of being able to watch in recent years. If he liked the idea of mass constituent deaths, the Oaf of Office would have said something to that effect. He would have expressed noticeable hatred or contempt or condescension, or something. His comments in this case were casual because his thoughts were casual.

Geez, I think. Who knows? For all I know he was repeating heinous disregard or contempt for human life that he’d been hearing from aides or appointees. This is not a guy you turn to to keep a secret.

I don’t think. It sure sounded like the flippant, thoughtless meme of killing Kenny again. Obviously that isn’t death in any normal sense. It’s an absurdist gag, the kind of thing that’s impossible not to get for anyone who isn’t utterly deranged or mentally retarded enough for Bill Clinton to order exterminated from the face of the earth, to touch at last the face of God and see if there isn’t pie in that part of the sky.

*****

Dude’s Ash Wednesday sermons must be fucking LIT. Death. A lot of people are talking about it. They’re talking about smearing ash all over your forehead so you look like a loser, when you could be out eating KFC and Cinnabon. They say people die a lot. You hate to hear it.

They killed God. Can you believe it? They killed God. Grabbed the guy, beat the shit out of him, put him up on a cross. God. They killed God. You wouldn’t think they could do that, but they did it. They killed him.

You wouldn’t believe it, this general came up to me. Simon Peterson, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Salvation Army. And this general, General Peterson, he told me, sir, that’s unacceptable. We can’t let them just go and kill God, We gotta do something about it, sir. We had to do something about it.

And you know what? They did something about it. General Peterson? General Peterson told me, sir, that was bullshit, sir. That’s bullshit. We can’t let them do that, sir. We have to do something about it. And he was right. I told him, you’re right, Simon. That’s bullshit. Dirty, dirty cops. Pontius Pilate, the centurions, all dirty, dirty cops. They’re all dirty cops. Comey? He killed God. Tried to crucify #MeToo.

It’s phenomenal what Simon told me. He told me, sir, he broke out. He called Satan a loser and a hater and he broke right out of hell, sir. That son of a bitch, he was outta there. Killed him Friday and Sunday morning he was gone. Can you believe it? Three days of dirty cops and their bullshit, and that was all he could take.

And I told General Peterson, that’s only two days. Friday they kill him, Saturday he’s down there, and Sunday, he’s outta there, see ya. And Simon, Simon told me, yes, sir, you’re right sir, Jesus couldn’t stand John Dingell. So two days. Two days and he was gone. And Cardinal Dolan told me, you know what Cardinal Dolan told me? He told me, sir, we have a Saturday night service we call the Vigil Mass. The vigil. The vigil.

Day and a half tops. They kill God and he’s dead only a day and a half. Phenomenal. Stretched it out to three days for the ratings, but day and a half, folks. Day and a half. We love God. We love to hear that. We love God, folks. I love the Hindu!

*****

That was, of course, a culturally Protestant retelling. Cultural Protestantism is most of what we get in the way of presidents, although we did give Jimmy Carter a try that one time. No, I don’t feel like explaining it, and no, I don’t figure it’s something you can look up. Think about it.

Just think about it. Give it some thot, Jack. Up against the wall, signora, if you have five minutes. His Vigor, Chappaquiddick Cool Change, and Good God, y’all, Fancy Nancy: all confessed Catholics, although best I can tell not privately confessed lol. There’s been a great deal of chatter about Francis decreeing Protestantism by dispensing the Catholic faithful from the normal Lenten obligation of the Sacrament of Penance this year–feel free to call God anytime if that’s what it takes, like we’re all about to head up to Geneva to head-off Calvin’s kin for fornication, or to Wurzburg to fart back in Luther’s face–but that’s just what the Pope does when he does mind death. You might mind it, you might not mind it, you might not be able to explain what the hell it is, and if you have command over the world’s largest nuclear missile arsenal you might not be able to come close.

Hey, kids, launch officer is a great career, if you don’t mind living in a basement in North Dakota and shitting in plastic bags. Great bosses, too, if you don’t mind them.

Just remember: Pete Wilson and Bill Clinton are notable examples what we get when we elect leaders who mind death. There’s no relishing it without minding it. As Dan Quayle said at a United Negro College Fund banquet, perhaps apocryphally, it’s a terrible thing to lose your mind, or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.

Mind you, I’m not always subsumed in this quality of extreme retardation, just often, because this is America. Early in the American chapter of the pandemic, as shit was starting to get real enough for quarantine zones and shelter-in-place orders, I talked with my youth minister friend. He told me about something he’d heard from a colleague, in reference to the cancellation of public masses, likely well into Easter. She pointed out that the only day of the year when the faithful are not allowed to receive the Eucharist is Good Friday. The weekend is nigh upon us, and I encourage you all to have one. Her point, since she had one–look, I don’t ask you for money, and most of you don’t ask for anything more than Dubai Porta Potty–her point was that this Lent and Easter may be an extended Good Friday for the Christian faithful, and we ought to be receptive to the grace that may come from it.

Once again, what you think about it depends on how much–nay, if, you mind it. Fucken Camus-ass da-da shit, and the guy saying it has supreme command over one of the world’s largest, most meddlesome, most belligerent militaries. I just looked it up for a wee bit more context, and sure enough Trump was riffing on Boris Johnson’s dipshit plan for herd immunity, i.e., replacing a lot of public health work with what Trump called, verbatim, “a lot of death.” They’re both vicious, and it’s possible that they’re psychopaths, but more than anything they stand out for being stupid and cavalier. It was BoJo who walked around in the Shwedagon Pagoda gently singing that rude imperial ditty about kissing the local girl in Mandalay while a career UK diplomat pleaded with him to shut up and show some reverence for their hosts. #GoodStuff

The big difference is that BoJo has trains of thought. He knew what Mandalay was. If you’ve been watching and thinking critically about postmodern American politics, you may have noticed that this mental competency keeps getting us into very bad places. Trump is pretty awful himself, but on the other hand, he keeps letting important official secrets slip: the FBI is dirty; the other three-letter agencies are dirty; cooping Rod up in that cramped home on the range was bogus; his closest ally in Europe wanted to kill his constituents wholesale by exposing them to the deadliest pathogen currently in wide circulation.

The first three are true. Hell if I know what to make of the last. The Brits have had monarchs before who were hella stupid, but I’ve always been under the impression that Parliament screened its premiers for smarts, and that the Conservative Party lowered the bar for Boris. Good grief he’s no Maggie. He doesn’t even look like he’d wash up after sloppy seconds on Cameron’s pig. For that matter, comparing BoJo to his recent predecessors, as with the Donald to his, should be cause enough to take our evil leaders unfiltered when we can.

Megxit

It’s rich, we might say, that the Royal Household and whatever the fuck else they call it is clutching its pearls over the failure of Harry and Meghan to pursue a sufficiently process-oriented separation from the family. If there’s one country that comes to mind for competently and cordially executing separation processes strictly according to protocol, it’s Great Britain and I’m Clement Atlee.

What a bunch of wankers. They’re all bloody miserable cunts, aside from the ones who are straight white trash. On the surface, disengaging from this wretched family looks more inspiring than engaging with it in the first place. Royal watchers are ruing that Prince Harry appeared bored with his duties. He sat through them, they said, but made no effort to hide his contempt for the proceedings. At last we have a member of the family somehow threading the needle between the festering vapidity of most of his relatives and the royal bumptiousness of Charles III. (Is he not on his way? I’m only semifacetious here.) He was born into this dogshit-stupid pageantry but has the good sense to recognize it for the absolute bollocks it is. Does His future Majesty very much enjoy the tikka masala? Well, does the chap look like he gives a shit? No? Good for him.

There are occasional monarchists who have thoughtful reasons for their philosophy. The problem is this: for every John Regan arguing, say, that we seem to end up with hereditary rule no matter how we get there and the British have some practice and wisdom in getting to a better version of it de jure, there have to be hundreds of drooling fuckwits gasping and cooing about how majestic it all is. Bugger me all the way to Balmoral you dense bitch, that’s no way to run a country. Some asshole from the BBC’s royal desk was on Here and Now today enthusing about how it’s a national department of having fun. Nice fun we’re having here, Harry; shame if you tried not to have it. Crystal Harris was, against the odds, right: we all just like to do fun stuff.

Some amateur beancounter inevitably shows up to these debates about republicanism versus royalism with stories about how much tourist traffic that horseshit brings to the UK. If true, it says nothing good about the tourists in question that they would be hopeless to think of anything else worth doing in England, Scotland, Wales, or Ulster if that wretched clan of inbred krauts weren’t there for them, and it’s a well-established matter of postmodern British political and economic history that a succession of recent governments have decided to make the City (read: fraud) the keystone of the national economy, so there’s no moral ground to defend here. What the economic development concern trolls are trying to maintain comes from an even uglier position. They insist that it is right and just that the House of Windsor serve as the displays in a human zoo.

Harry and Meghan are of sound mind and great wisdom to remove themselves from this horseshit. The Windsor grapevine kept reporting that the family was abusing Meg, cutting her off from loved ones outside their direct control like any other good cult. It takes all the maturity of an observant teenager to recognize that the fairytale lifestyle for which the British royal family is so fulsomely celebrated is stultifying and meaningless as all hell. Have I ever mentioned that Harry Potter is a popular adult fiction series among the American upper middle class? This seems germane. Between the wizard crap, The West Wing, and all the pseudohighbrow royalist/aristocratic propaganda on PBS, we can start to see things that are frightfully wrong with this country. Ali G, the same gentleman who asked if there will ever be a female prime minister, provided a useful litmus test for this kind of shit: is it good, or is it wack? For H&M, the former turned out to be the latter.

Fuck off about how they’re committing dereliction of duty and scheming to capitalize on their titles. Nobody fucking respects Andrew and Fergie. Those two are both royal bigshots, or he is and she was, but everybody knows they’re fucking useless and expects absolutely nothing of either of them. The Canadian kids sure seem an improvement over the Lolita Express shitbird and his messy lush of an ex-wife. The claims that they’re fleeing the Household to put a stop to interference in extended family visitations with their young child are evidence enough of their relatively good character and judgment, and as they say about sex in Vermont, and at Windsor Castle, it’s all relatives.

Hey, the kid may be a Nazi cosplayer, but at least he married out. We’ve got portraits of the shit the old school unclefucked into existence, and it ain’t good. The Hapsburgs were a bunch of drooling retards–or, as we call them stateside, PBS Sustainers. There’s a huge amount of cooing shit on PBS’s evening lineups, on Sundays especially (maybe something to do with who doesn’t have to go to work tomorrow/watches that shit in the first place), about how Victoria restored flagging British reverence towards the monarchy. This is interesting–by which I mainly mean dreadfully uninteresting–in the historical context of her own son and successor, a lecherous ditz. Edward–Bertie, as they called him–Eddie could never afford to live that kind of life. That’s why he was a public charge like the rest of them.

That’s the thing about the monarchy, though: the duties of these offices are whatever the hell the wankers holding them are able and willing to discharge, and in a number of cases the answer has been John Dennis Diddly. Say, that sounds like a public school pastime. Coach, do put me in there! Eddie, in this case not of Brender, was a great disappointment to his father and mother, but nobody looked any finer than that vapid bastard, whether or not he’d been banging that Irish floozy of a camp follower or however many dozens of other tramps. It’s been written that Long Islanders piss off Manhattan’s elites because they’re close enough to the seedy shit that goes down on Oyster Bay to know that we’re all just a little bit Buttafuoco. According to folklore, Newsday has unpublished photographs confirming our sinful nature: SATIN LIVES.

The British royal family ends up in a fourth-turning cycle or some shit in which, rather like Russia’s periodic teetotaler tsars/premiers/presidents, a fastidiously chaste goody-two-shoes pays people to preen about her bottomless virtue and glamor for the duration of her reign, punctuating a succession of utterly useless and blatantly disreputable wastrels. The Millennial monarchs-in-waiting are maintaining a three-generation streak of not being boorish and stupid within their direct lineage, if we leave aside Philip, an ever more senile oaf, and Elizabeth, who’s perhaps not too bright. Meanwhile the family’s got allowance claimants wandering around with the intelligence of Eric Trump and the sobriety of Amy Winehouse. To go parochial and translate that for the streets, that entire family proves that there’s no shame in my game. What, are they the only ones who are allowed to be indolent? Look, whatever the stuff in these pages is, I write it. (Does it look like it has editors?) I’ll be Lord Byron if one in twenty of that useless lot is able to independently pen anything worth reading.

If the British government and public wish to continue subsidizing these fuckheads, it’s their business. If these jagoffs themselves insist on breeding, it’s a dysgenic nightmare but not anybody else’s business, although the size and continuation of the public allowances encouraging this animalistic proliferation are a matter of genuine public concern. Luther Burbank does not have descendants, but they all do.

Sharing this culture with the United States, however, is specifically and directly our business. We fought a war of independence to be done with this shit, and now we celebrate it multiple times a week on our federal public television service. We don’t need this garbage. There are other things little girls can aspire to be when they grow up besides princesses. Why have a society of princesses, professional athletes, ballerinas, astronauts, and marine biologists when we can instead aspire to a society of working smallholders, union railroaders, craftspeople, prostitutes, the chronically unemployed, and definitely some hot CBSA agents and Mounties? (Field uniform, please; the dress uniform is too ridiculous for comment.) Unfortunately, I know exactly why: it’s the same reason we read fucking Harry Potter. My list was fucked up, but it was half useful and half sexy, I thought for a moment that I’d erred for including the unemployed, that that was hella wack, but then I remembered why we find the royals and aristos so captivating. It ain’t because they work.

Who’s “us”? It’s whoever presumes to speak for us on deep state radio and television. I’ll be interested to see what the Scots offer for licensing under devolution. It could be shite, but the limeys are already burying us in it, so it could hardly be worse. Maybe they’ll come up with something better than the current Wheel of Fortune-ass storytime about the mulatto chick with the kraut husband and the abusive in-laws.

Corey Pein describes this as a mob family. The pervert uncle of the lady who got whacked in the staged car crash in the French tunnel along with the shady Arab fellow and so upset Elton John that he sang about it for clout and profit is now in trouble for being on the recently whacked American sex island pervert who died by his own hand in the jail where the surveillance cameras don’t work. Mob sounds about right. Financial and operational independence sounds wise.

And for God’s sake Harry and Meghan won’t be the only ones profiting from the British Royal Family in a seedy fashion. There are honest modes of living in England, but we never hear a word about them. As far as I can tell, I’m the only American who knows that the National Fruit Collection is not where they store Elton John. On the Canadian side, there are honest modes of living, too, but Kevin Vickers has gone from dairyland to Depot to Parliament Hill to Ireland, and Jian Ghomeshi is still in Toronto. Meanwhile we, too, still have public radio and television broadcasters, and Kwesi Millington hasn’t been gracious enough to sue either of them.

A zealous love of honest work and plain dealing is not the reason we’ve heard of any of these people. We should think that there are better reasons to be scandalized than the possibility that Harry and Meghan will be living off the avails of the House of Windsor illegitimately, as opposed to the old legitimate fashion of getting an allowance and an archipelago of palaces for making stupid small talk with other dipshits and sitting around like a fucking dunce. We should hope, for that matter, that the prince is the worst Harry. Instead we have novels about Eton and Oxbridge, but with elves and wizards and shit, and reruns of a dumbass nerd show about a wicked boring version of the Clinton White House.

Ordering a society around the pathetic escapist fantasies of a pampered but panicked overclass is going just swell. At least Harry and Meghan are trying to escape into something more like reality, not less. I guess that’s why the teachers’ pets resent them.

George Washington’s teeth

New Zealand has placed orders for about 1,300 square feet of human skin. I swear I did not make that up. It’s enough to carpet my apartment and stop by to visit with the neighbors, bearing leftovers. Beautiful day, stranger. It’s more or less enough to refloor my parents’ house, WITH HUMAN SKIN.

New Zealand was very recently the site of a gruesome natural disaster, a violent volcanic eruption on White Island, or, as they call it around 80th and Lex, Tuesday afternoon. That is to say that they didn’t place the orders for the lulz. They need graft material. They have medical reasons. In New Zealand, an English-speaking country, the technical term is me dickle raisins. Those sound like a delicious chutney for me Invercargill mince pie; stop by if you have a minute to see if they’ve got any next to the hot case at the Cal-Tex.

I understand there’s a book with these recipes. It’s a cookbook.

Mind you, New Zealand has world-class medical care. It’s the beast cone tray with the beast sex hose peedles, a great place for Dr. Nassar to practice veterinary medicine until they catch him at it.

Nah, I’m just back on my shitposting. It’s for real a better place to seek medical care than the United States. A nurse in Queenstown told me that Invercargill is a better place to get mince pies, too, with a look on her face implying that there’s something just a touch wrong with the locals wicked south.

Granted, this is the kind of skin order that could be rolled up and dropped off at a shady Armenian’s rug warehouse in Glendale, but the problem here isn’t with its destination. The cause for concern is the origin. The provenance is questionable. This is America. Our actual history with medical ethics is worth a read. As Faulkner said, the past isn’t forgotten; it isn’t even past.

Remember a few years ago, when there was a minor international hubbub over the shipment of human organs from China and the implications about their sourcing? Observers were looking at this impressive supply of sometimes surprisingly healthy organs, cross-referencing them with the mainland Chinese judicial system, and, to their gathering horror, connecting the dots to what they call high-impact lead poisoning in certain ethnic neighborhoods back east. We might say that China is a different east. Fly there, but maybe not so much to the southern part, on Northwest Orient. RIP. Delta did us dirty by buying and repainting that venerated big metal. Of course there are worse places to fly than Atlanta: say, a dawn charter, ground transportation included, out of the private terminal at Ngurah Rai to Cilacap.

The Chinese are surely still up to these tricks. This is the same country with a strong enough market for ivory and ground-up tiger balls and that kind of thing to get Joseph Kony into the elephant poaching business. There have been questions about China’s export pharmaceuticals and baby formula.

That’s an odd nation to maintain a relatively low incarceration rate. Sure enough, though, it does. All we have to do is compare it to the American rate. We’re the world champions. For a while we had, like, the fucking Seychelles or some shit beating us due to a passing political crackdown, but I’m pretty sure that ended.

We all know that medical care in our prisons is top-notch. Prison is a great place to go to get hale, happy, whole, and well. They say so on Fox News, right? Some poor schmuck on the outside has to pay through the nose and wait, and meanwhile it’s free at the point of care in the clink. At the very least, Chad Kroeger insinuates that he spent some time on the inside, and he looks great.

We can consequently rest assured that the American authorities, at all levels of government, are not harvesting skin from prisoners they have neglected to death or murdered, did not conduct syphilis experiments on black airmen at Tuskegee, and did not test chemical or biological weapons from the top of the Pruitt-Igoe Towers. None of this happens in America. You get food to eat.

Again, the Kiwis are not the problem here. You go to the operating room with the ethically sourced grafts you have, not the ethically sourced grafts you’d like. You may notice one word in the last sentence that’s doing the Pareto power player lifting. As an erstwhile Turkish drinking buddy said, “Why don’t we put it back in the dumpster? Too much ethics!” He said this in the course of his studies (sic), as a speaker of English (sic), towards his master’s degree (sic) in business (sic). He’s officially more educated than I am; read it and puke. If you’re practicing medicine, emphasis on practice, at San Francisco General, the other thing you take with you into the operating room is your own stumbling drunk ass: that is, unless a woman in the waiting room goes full Bear Flag Republic mama grizzly on it, and on you, and threatens to call the Medical Board the moment you cross the threshold.

The beast me dickle in a pickle system: we’ve got that, too. The reasons to be alarmed that this shambolic, bumptious country functions as the world’s strategic skin reserve go well and far (heh) beyond the strictly ethical. Can we, or anybody else, have trust and confidence in the safety and reliability of our blood and tissue supplies? Our surgical or dental equipment? Much of anything that we still manufacture? Boeing has manufactured over 400 units of the 737 Max since the Ethiopian crash, playing chicken with every civil aviation authority under the skies, and isn’t done shipping these fine ships into storage yet. This is how a corporation renowned for decades as one of the All-American best is making its manufacturing and business decisions. We’re gonna spend another month hammering these bad boys together and flying them to the Sonora Desert and then, uh, uh, yeah. That’s it! We’ll shut the assembly line down THEN, to save money! The federal executive and a federal legislative majority are perfectly happy to smugly shut the government down until air traffic controllers reach their wit’s end and shut down La Guardia for leverage. At that point, the brain geniouses in Washington soil their diapers anew, freshly (or not so freshly) scandalized and shocked that mere workers have such power over them, their masters.

Medical care in the US in general is frankly terrible. The only reason this isn’t universally understood domestically, as it increasingly is abroad, is propaganda. We advertise fucking cardiac surgery at base hospitals in cities of 30,000. Fucking St. Joseph’s runs ads on Cool 105 and shit. Do you REALLY not want to be medevacked to San Fran for that? Because you Van Morrison-ass heard it on the radio, on the radio? On top of the ads, we have decades’ worth of spurious, bad-faith, flagrantly apples-and-oranges comparisons of, like, Johns Hopkins or the Cleveland Clinic to random Soviet-era base hospitals in Murmansk or Krakow or Leipzig that in point of fact usually provided world-class care, without the Hershey advertising budget and without cherrypicking their patient pools for better outcomes and the aggrandizing US News and World Report-ass statistics these skimmables yield. #TeshTips: They’re lying to you. It’s Powell Memo praxis all the way down.

We call this conservatism.

Again, medicine is just one critical sphere where this manifests. Are our feedlots and slaughterhouses clean? Lol. Somebody shits in a Salinas lettuce field instead of taking unpaid time off to hit the crapper, and a week later an unsuspecting grandma in Boise or Holdrege dies of E. coli.

This is definitely where the world should source its skin grafts, the world-leading exporter of mercenary blood. Go down to the near eastside of Reno, over by the rescue missions, if you’ve got some to spare and a local ID. It’s a real healthy donor pool in that part of town, all lining up for the cash money. As they say on the Penny Hoarder, we’ve all done these things to make rent. “We?” “All?” Who the fuck is “us?” This sounds like the kind of shit that would go down in a bad part of Manila, selling blood on the open market until it’s a higher aggregate-value export than soy or corn. Yeah, we’ve got some rice, we’ve got some pork, we’ve got some cassava and taro, we’ve got some usable veins.

Christ. The chilling theodicial banality of it: hey, we all gotta do what we gotta do to get by. Times are tough, so you gotta hustle. Look, I have no moral objections to $20 blow-n-go by the UP mainline. The, uh, scenery is prettier a thousand miles to the east, up on Moon River, but I’m not the one down on the low track paying for any of that. Thing is, this shit is not about public morals; it’s about public health. Blood-farming the indigent for the export market in neighborhoods with prevalent ill health and disease is an international public health threat. There was a minor moral panic of sorts maybe twenty years ago about the United States having to import blood from Switzerland, complete with news footage of a Swiss A330 on short final. Cool. Pretty airplane. That story increased my trust in the blood supply. What we’re doing these days is legit scary.

This is not the behavior of a confident, capable society. These are the death throes of a failing empire. We’re over here bragging about how we’re the best in the world, and meanwhile we’re tripping all over ourselves to excuse 95% safety and reliability in critical operations, or 90%, or, shucks, 75%. Boeing wanted to reassure the flying public that the Max was 99+% safe. That must be comforting for passengers on the other 1%. Recall that the FAA was the last civil aviation authority of any significance to ground the Max. We measurably, manifestly fell behind Ethiopia on safety standards. I’m not trying to be PC here; we fell behind fucking Indonesia. We did this deliberately, to curry favor with a once-trailblazing aerospace manufacturer that was being run headlong into the ground. Who’s us here? Hey, our government did that, in our name.

Radio Free Tom Nichols was just on World Affairs to bitch to Ray Suarez about how everybody back home in Chicopee has turned into an obese opioid addict stuffing his face with Big Macs while demanding that the government save him from himself. I couldn’t help myself. I had to listen to the whole broadcast once it came on. He veered into moral and mental clarity from time to time, but hearing from him about the death of expertise was reminiscent of Larry Craig’s bitter complaints about the death of chastity.

This is a guy who traffics stereotypes so habitually and thoughtlessly that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and doesn’t care. He stirred up a shitstorm on the D-List post-or-die left by declaring that Indian food sucks, period. I really didn’t care, and I still don’t. I’ll eat his goat curry if he won’t; I’ll even eat Her Majesty’s leftover chicken tikka masala, and that’s something that the best chefs can fuck up by not using potato cubes instead. It turns out that this woke-v.-broke horseshit was, in fact, significant. Radio Free Tom broadbrushes all sorts of things, most of them higher-stakes than not eating his bowl of Jaipur karhi. He’s every bit as shallow and coarse about industrial policy.

What we’ve got here is a contemptuous social climber cum know-it-all blowhard. It sounds bad when I phrase it that way, but Tom’s pretty modest and decent by the prevailing community standards in the philosophical wreckage that passes for his set’s idea of a community. Think about who socializes with people who in any professional capacity know Ray Suarez. As they say around Independence Mall, it’s kinda gross, Terry. Dealing with people who are peripheral or orthogonal to the truly bad actors of the Acela Corridor is revealing, provided we have some idea of how to extrapolate from those who don’t make us barf into those who do: the lanyard losers, the think tank creeps, the bigshot talking heads, the professional right-wing provocateurs walking around with shit-eating grins, the Congressmen, the lobbyists.

Being around that human mess for decades without current points of references in the real world has to have a distorting effect on one’s understanding of how America runs under the hood. If we’re claiming that a revolt against expertise cost Hillary the election and elevated the Donald all the way to the top, we might want to explain what in the hell kind of expertise it was that made it impossible for Her professional political nerds to miss the evidence that she was widely reviled in a whole bunch of swing states, or that her opponent was campaigning on some planks that were extremely attractive in the same parts of the country. That’s like if I said, oh, grapes? Yeah, that grows on, like, a tree or a bush or some shit, I dunno, you asked, go fuck yourself.

This class is completely unwilling to imagine that there are large numbers of their fellow citizens who take pride in plying what they consider lowly trades, seek to keep plying their own trades, and do not wish to see their industries consigned exclusively to Dhaka or Phnom Penh. They aren’t content just to be idiots; they insist on being loudmouthed, belligerent idiots.

I’m not even annoyed at Radio Free Tom in this case; for the most part I’m just cheaply entertained. There is, however, something surreally arrogant about this prick from the Naval War College being platformed on state radio to spend his portion of a fifty-minute hour sniveling about how the ordinary taxpayers contributing to the national treasury that helps pay for his frequent appearances are unfit for self-government. It’s a bizarre own goal for a sworn expert who presumably takes pride in being a communicator, a debater, a presenter of arguments.

It’s a bewildering mess of the mind, but one thing that stands out about it is the profound, dripping ingratitude. Who does Radio think does the real, tangible, physical work that keeps him alive and comfortable? Who do any of his peers think does that? Fellow talking heads?

We’re going out on a limb to assume that they think at all. This is too petty for their thoughts, too pedestrian, too crass. Giving thanks would prick their bubbles.

Somebody has to sow, tend, harvest, process, sell, and cook their food. Somebody has to keep their water supply clean and reliable 24/7. Somebody has to pave their streets, drive their Ubers, and, if they’re so down-to-earth, maintain their Metro system. (I assume we all know which one.) Somebody has to fly, maintain, navigate, and direct their planes. Somebody has to clean their bathrooms and cut their grass. Acela doesn’t drive, dispatch, track, or highball itself.

This is why they hate air traffic controllers. They don’t do any of this shit for themselves. Most of it is credibly menial and unskilled work: like, who gives a shit, we aren’t out of Guatemalans. Air traffic control is so obviously so highly skilled and critical, no matter how boring or rote, that even our worst useless eaters aren’t sheltered or deranged enough to pretend that it isn’t. So they misdirect: Oh, they’re just extorting Congress. They’re just bitter that they never landed the good gigs on the Hill. That’s why they demand to be compensated. We should come up with a computer program to replace them. No, I don’t know how to reboot my computer when I virus-crash it on dicey porn sites.

Huh. Having other people do the work and then complaining that they are too demanding and uppity sounds, uh, maybe a touch familiar from points south, and in some cases north, of Gettysburg. I can’t imagine there’s a rapid transit station in Ole Virginny rhyming with Darlington Flemetarry where a rising Union-turned-Confederate army officer got violent with the help before violently getting his men’s asses kicked and then going hat in hand over fly to a place that doesn’t possibly rhyme with Fappomattox Short Blouse and son they took the farm, you know, blood on the scarecrow, blood under the plow.

*Freshly resalted General Sherman voice* Sick burn, kid. Say, to stray a bit off-topic and a lazy afternoon’s float down the river–same damn bank; mercy, Mr. Davis!–, there’s a strain of impertinent Yankee thot holding (giggity*) (*your affiant needs sleep) that certain, shall we say, recently unpleasant cultural practices stymied innovation and held Dixie back. That sounds impossible. He went to Protestant confession for whacking the cherry tree, right? It’s in all the books, books from a time before plagiarism. He owned people and stuff, but they all did. How could he mistreat them?

They teach us about his modest suckface limp upper lip. They teach us about his dentures. They do not teach us that George had a tooth bank.

Even the ladies and gentlemen knew in their hearts the proper thing to call this tooth bank:

People.