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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messing with Texas

Yankee shitlibs refuse to confront the ugly truth that the gross misgovernment of the South mainly harms Southerners, most especially poor Southerners. It’s probablly because they’re racists. This evil country has been building common cause between Confederate brutes and Union appeasers since Appomattox. Charles Sumner got his insolent white ass caned on the Senate floor for refusing to accommodate his fellow cuntrymen, a misspelling he would wholeheartedly agree is not one. Some of speak more deeply in the Vulgate than others, some of the time. The good old classists–goodness, classicists–of the Good Old South were, as Sumner provocatively pointed out, Daniel Holtzclaw, just prissier. That was enough for Preston Brooks, Southern Gentleman, to forcibly get Charlie off his political bullshit. #CHAHLEE!

True Song of the South: I had the pleasure and honor, in my troubled youth, of briefly getting to know Mr. Charles and his owners. Mr. Charles was a nice pussy. They lived in a bed and breakfast outside Luray. Good folks, of all breeds. Mr. Charles was far from the worst Southern Ginger. Any of you fools read about the characters who founded this nation? My parents were taking me to a summer camp between Harrisonburg and New Market. Mr. Charles had his shit way more together than my modal peer or chaperone at camp. That outfit put the loco into the parentis indeed.

These days I’m much less troubled on my trips to Virginny, new, old, and dead. I’m talking about trips where I do shit like break down in tears in an easily bent-out-of-shape Marylander’s arms when we see each other for the first time in fifteen years and she asks me how I’m doing. “I keep thinking I see her.” All alma sane, y’all, is, some of us are less fucked up than we used to be. Take courage! Take comfort! In a world when so many things regress, some nerds advance!

Huh. We’re recycling our #content again. But ask: How much is there that is new under the harsh Texas sun? The ugliest members of the gentry are still grievously torturing their socioeconomic, and hence racial, inferiors. It remains the official policy. The scions of old-line Jeffersonian families do it because it’s what their families have always done. Canadian immigrants and other arrivistes in the Jacksonian mold do it because it’s what the Jeffersonian master class has done since time immemorial. We’re examining here the examples the American Adams of their diseased culture set in their own lives, not the ideals they proclaimed. That’s some perverse phrasing I used, but it’s not like we just started deploying seedy political accusations of treason and incest.

To plunge into the truly odd, our recently departed Oaf of Office, a man of publicly avowed incestuous interest in his own daughter, is consistently accused only of treason, which there is absolutely no evidence he ever committed. Did he get entanged in foreign rivalries, against the sage advice of our wiser framers and in the immediately recognizable fashion of every predecessor holding his office in his lifetime, as well as that of multiple framers of the United States Constitution? You betcha. Was whatever he thought he was trying to accomplish in the Russia and the Ukraine treasonous? Good God, y’all. “Woody Allen adopted that girl? Okay, but he’s Julius Rosenberg.” Come again? Dafuq?

The Russia obsession is the psychotic political equivalent of Ella Emhoff’s style of dress. That bird of prey goth bullshit is itself an updated version of the extant tradition of dressing up in starched shirts and neckties as a sign of one’s transcendence of physical labor. We’re encouraged to believe she does that to shock the bourgeoisie. Huh uh; homegirl is doing that to BE the bourgeoisie. The smartly dressed black bum on the San Diego Trolley who told his Goodwill muumuu-class white girlfriend “I can’t afford to go to the bank no more” dressed respectably because he couldn’t afford to go to the social capital bank no more neither.

John Regan would probably argue this is why we maintain monarchies. I take a different stance. This is why we mock monarchies. This is why we mercilessly mock all who butt in with aristocratic or monarchical pretensions. Go back to Canada and take that fancy-pants imperial condescension with you. “Oh. Which Canadian?” Yeah, that’s the fucking problem. We’ve got one in the fucking White House and still have one in the Senate. I’m afraid we can identify Regan as one of the good ones because he fled for Canada, not from it. They can’t all be Chad Kroeger or the Mentionable Justin. If I was them, would I let me in, like they did Dziekanski? I’d like to think so, but honestly, I’m interested in the backchannels–ironically by surf and turf, not sky–more than I am tempted.

Many of us, then, are stuck here. Do I sound like the kind of Cancunt who gets into Congress? Guadalajara? Oh no. Volaris is the Greyhound Airborne. Let’s see if there’s some room on the business standby list for Houston. Well shit, in that case maybe there’s a couple cops waiting for me back home, at the airport.

Bitch you could fly to Calgary instead, eh?

Rafael Edward’s Mexican Adventure is, in strictly technical terms, a distraction from the catastrophic failure of ERCOT and many of Texas’s municipal water supplies under the onslaught of a cold snap that was accurately forecast days in advance. That said, it’s of a piece with Ted Cruz’s decision to fuck off to Mexico during a statewide crisis, blame his minor daughters for making him abandon his constituents, and telling a press scrum at the Cancun Airport that he was flying home to roll up his sleeves and work on the grid. Cruz wore a Lone Star Flag mask for his airport press conference. He literally, bodily justified himself from behind the cover of his state’s flag.

Don’t mess with what now? Who dat living on the Gulf of Mexico and vacationing down at a different part of it to get out of the cold? Cruz’s block got priority grid service at a time when his constituents were on the verge of dying of thirst, dozens of them as a preliminary estimate had already died of exposure or carbon monoxide poisoning, and he and his family had fled out of country, not just out of town.

Everything they say happens to political cultures and supply lines in communist countries just happened in Texas, on an even worse extreme and grander scale. Indigent Texans are lining up for bottled water at drive-through delivery points. Will Rogers thought it was absurd that America went to the poor house in the automobile. That’s how we, as a country, are going to the soup kitchen and the open call for fucking water rations. It’s an astoundingy dystopian work of science fiction, and the citizens of a hypermilitarized police state, the subjects of the sole remaining global imperial superpower, are living in it. That’s our real life.

Fuck off about bitch-ass Russia. That joint at least seems to more or less work. The Gulag was a chronic atrocity, nothing to dismiss or justify, but it was never the fault or immediate business of the United States. It was a Soviet atrocity. Americans were right to denounce it in its day. But the United States is currently operating its own Gulag archipelago. It’s committing many of the same atrocities against its own prisoners, many of whom it incarcerates for political reasons. This is what America is doing to its own people today, as I write and you read. Our prisons deny their inmates food or serve them food that is unwholesome and barely edible. They deny their inmates clean facilities and clean water. This week, Texas prisons have been denying their inmates water, period, denying them heat, and even denying them blankets.

It’s controversial to say that the United States is a nation founded and run on genocide. Maybe we should think about something less unpleasant, something less recent. Mercy, O’Hara.

Mercy, Mr. Charles.

Most politicians, even the psychopaths, are keenly aware of how important it is to show empathy. The psychopaths among them at least try to mimic empathy to an extent that they figure will fool the rubes. This is exactly why there’s such a concerted campaign to praise Joe Biden for his “empathy” and “decency,” and Kamala Harris for her “warmth.” It’s a sickening effort to rehabilitate two armchair thugs who have devoted their careers to doing evil and continue, to this day, to deliberately do evil. The point of this campaign is to gaslight genuine liberals who voted for Biden and Harris in ambivalent but desperate hope that they’d be better than Trump. This same jumble of bullshit and lies is also good for writing the story of American politics from scratch on the blank slate of the low-information voter’s mind and reassuring illiberal propertied Wilson-Deukmejian Republicans who believe in life without parole much more than life with it that they’re in fact good bleeding-heart liberals.

The message is Message I Care. Poppy Bush was a psychopath pandering to the worst angels of the American electorate’s nature, but geez, they make a federal case out of it if you’re walking around the shanty in Kennybunkport in your plaid PJ’s at three in the afternoon just because you’ve got a case of the sniffles, so geez, Argentina, go cry for that papist collaborator fellow Bergoglio instead or something, and let me know how pork bellies are doing on the Exchange before I’m all out of rinds.

The point of this shtick is to bamboozle the public. They’re eager to minimize the cohort of dissidents openly wondering why that goody-two-shoes piece of shit spends so much time Downeast and never goes riding with Teddy. The gambit worked with the Bushes because their elders and family retainers teach them from birth the need to maintain the false front of noblesse oblige. The false modesty of WASP shabby chic is a way to avoid rubbing it in for the losers. They won’t vote for you if you flaunt it too much, kid. Behave yourself. Keep the guillotine memes directed at someone else, some idiot and fool who doesn’t know what’s best for him.

Ted Cruz’s message is What, Me Care? Message I Don’t lol sucka. The free press is eternally vigilant, always on the lookout for an easy dunk. The public enjoys an easy dunk and is increasingly furious with its officials. A savvy, refined politician knows this. The Bushes all try to act like they care. It isn’t just an old money thing, either: Marco Rubio and John Kasich try to show some fucking modesty, too.

Cruz is too arrogant to try to show any fellow feeling with his constituents. He’s too shameless. He doesn’t have it in himself even to make an insincere show of gratitude for having a lavishly compensated six-year contract for a position of public trust ostensibly requiring part-time hours but subject to no meaningful attendance or performance standards. He doesn’t have it in him to act like he’s got a good gig and is lucky to have it. He shows no interest even in pretending to want to repay the trust the public has placed in him. He flew back early from Cancun because he got caught. He put his name on the fucking upgrade standby list.

Cruz won’t resign for being so self-serving and irresponsible in the face of an arguably unprecedented crisis, the way the asshole mayor of Colorado City did after lashing out at his constituents on Facebook with a tirade about how he and the rest of the government didn’t own them a damn thing. That guy was a two-bit local yokel, used to doing whatever bad deeds he felt moved to do in obscurity, slithering around in the muddy dark. He must have been taken aback to get pushback for blaming his constituents when they begged for help during the infrastructural crisis of their lives. Cruz is used to the limelight and the savagery that comes with it. He’s used to being not just hated but one of the most hated members of the Senate. His colleagues can’t stand him or Mitch McConnell. By some accounts they have more patience with McConnell.

Scumbags whose understanding of communism is members of the Nomenklatura fleeing to their dachas on the Black Sea while ordinary Russians living in shabby housing estates wait in bread lines all day are here to tell us all about how their tropical vacations in the thick of a deadly breakdown of civiliation were perhaps ill-advised in hindsight, but privatized utilities issuing $200k household electric bills because they felt like market-surging the costs of energy they just barely delivered, when they delivered it at all, onto their ratepayers. This is capitalism, bitch. This is the free market. This is what we must defend against imperial interference from our own federal government, no matter the hardship.

ERCOT’s executives have been quick to accept blame–not all, but some–for their failures. They must be horrified by how badly they got caught off guard. It’s an unfortunate name, ERCOT. Watch your gonsonants; you good gadge a gase of id. The truly embarrassing part is the R. It stands for reliability.

Oops.

There’s a reason for their relative accountability. Independent system operators are run by people with extensive, granular technical knowledge. They’re forced to work in the real world, and deeply so. ISO’s attract people who take intense pride in their work. They literally keep the lights on. They’re embarrassed when they don’t. In episodes as dire as what just ravaged Texas, they’re powerfully alarmed.

Rick Perry is able to mouth off about the honor of enduring hardship for the sake of the continued independence of an electrical grid that just catastrophically failed because he suffers little hardship from the failure of public utilities and he socializes exclusively with peers who suffer little hardship. The cognitive dissonance doesn’t register with him because he casually, instinctively dehumanizes fellow Texans who do not live on properties with industrial-grade home generators. It helps to think they deserve hardship for being losers, and therefore of low character, but people of his class, even people I’ve known who are merely upper middle class and have a chip on their shoulder about somehow living in precarity and having to fight to kill what they eat, fundamentally conceive of “people” or “Americans” or “New Yorkers” or whatever else they find resonant as themselves and their class peers. “My Uber tonight was a sweetheart!”, that kind of thing. If she lives in her car and parks for the night at the hopelessly overcrowded rest area on the hill above Vallejo, she won’t breathe a word about it.

Rick Perry is a few stations up the line from there. He doesn’t understand what it’s like to live in a normal house. When his ilk arrogantly issue grandiose pronouncements about “Texas” or “Texans,” they’re pontificating about nothing of the sort. It’s Trolley Time with Uncle Fred. Everybody in Thailand has a servant. They need the servant to drive the family elephant. It’s awful when the family elephant has to go to the vet and they have to cross Bangkok on the elephant bus to their jobs as their servants’ servants

I’m fuller of shit than the elephant’s ass right now: the servants are not part of “everybody.” Duh. They’re excluded. They’re the underclass the law binds but does not protect, bound to their due station to serve the overclass which the law protects but does not bind. It’s no coincidence that rich, cosmopolitan parts of the United States are hardening into caste societies, in ways that overlap with race but in no way entirely map onto it. It’s no coincidence that famously liberal Santa Monica is ever more infested with property owners who foam at the mouth with fascist rage, good Democrats who privately concede that Stephen Miller has some good points but they don’t want him clamping down too hard on the beaner supply lines that keep them in gardeners and maids.

When Rick Perry blusters on behalf of “Texans,” he excludes the vast majority of every major Texas city, with the possible but unlikely exception of Fort Worth. That’s the most generous possible description. He’s actually excluding damn near the whole fucking state. The simultaneous, nearly statewide failure of electrical, water, and natural gas supply lines during and on account of an extreme cold snap is an entirely different beast from differences of regulatory philosophy or practical day-to-day engagement between the state and federal governments. The Texas state government allowed electric and gas utilities to decline to weatherize their key facilities in the interest of short-term investor profits. This was the regulatory regime AFTER a similar but milder cold snap in 2011 caused widespread power failures.

Working stiffs will not stand for this shit, in the name of Texas or in the name of anything else. The mythical hardscrabble pioneer stock the likes of Rick Perry claims to represent in fact exist. In parts of the state they’re prevalent. They’re mythical in the sense that their hardiness and prevalence is somewhat exaggerated for lyrical effect. If they supported the separation of the ERCOT grid from neighboring megagrids, it was to make it easier for the people running the system on the ground to keep it affordable and reliable. That kind of thinking isn’t just belligerently ideological. The continental-scale cascading failures precipitating the 2003 Northeast Blackout were a consequence of ill-designed and ill-managed interconnectivity on a continental scale. That blackout was truly nightmarish. My parents and I were lucky enough to be visiting family and friends in Oregon when the grid failed and to have booked ourselves on a return flight that arrived after the grid was back online in our part of Pennsylvania. If ERCOT were tied into any of the megagrids in the same haphazard, brittle fashion as the regional ISO’s are tied into one another within the megagrids, the results could be calamitous.

The North American electrical grid is designed, constructed, and operated for shit. ERCOT is not uniquely dysfunctional. The current (heh) blackouts were exacerbated by inadequate interties to neighboring ISO’s. In this instance, ERCOT’s unusual regionalization and operational separation from neighboring systems inhibited its capacity to import power from outside and then distributed it internally. In the event of a big sectoral blackout on the scale of 2003, ERCOT’s independence might well keep most of Texas fully powered.

Again, this shit isn’t about Texas. Exploitative bad actors in public office and corporate marketing departments want to make it about Texas. They want to make it about their lies about renewables failing during the blackouts to distract from the failures of deliberately unwinterized fossil fuel infrastructure. It’s about calculated disinvestment in already vulnerable and poorly maintained public utilities.

In a word, it’s about looting. Vulture investors get corrupt governments to give them the license to loot. They encourage them to gouge ratepayers, strip company assets, effectively embezzle capital on hand, and make a shambles of what they’ve been chartered to run. Texas is one of the states whose governments they’ve most thoroughly corrupted, and hence one whose citizens they’ve most thoroughly beggared. It isn’t because Texas is Republican. They pull the same shit in Democratic states. I’m due to pay PG&E $150 this week. I have no control over the stewardship of my utility payments. I have no control over how much of it goes to infrastructural improvements versus administrative costs versus embezzlement. About a third of it is going to Sonoma Clean Power. Do I have any goddamn way to direct that cut, or to know what the hell they’re doing with it? Of course not. It’s probably more transparent than PG&E, but for all I know it may be a huge pile of bullshit, and if it is, that’s a low-priority agenda item on the civic triage chart.

Yeah, we’ve got a lot of smug Californians–PG&E ratepayers, no less–shrieking about the absolute awfulness of Trump and the Republican Party and the states they win, rather than taking the beam from their own eye. Greg Abbott would probably find a way to make PG&E even worse, but that’s no excuse for blaming ordinary Texans. For the love of God cut that shit out. They don’t deserve to suffer because they vote Republican. They don’t deserve to suffer because their states voted Republican.

The demographic breakdown of the latter might skew darker and poorer than Mark West, but I can’t White see how.

A most curious afternoon on the old plantation, as the overseers lay down their whips in horror at what is being demanded of them

There’s something unfortunate, even embarrassing, about revering a junta of nine as the fount and bullwark of rights for a nation of over three hundred million. It was disgraceful to elevate to the same nation’s highest court a blackout-drunk cokehead, serial sex pest, and leering deviant who appeared before the independent, coequal body constituted to approve or reject him for appointment, visibly under the influence of alcohol and cocaine, and who verbally abused its members in their own house on live television.

If this country is in fact governed at the consent of its citizens, the deliberations and rulings of its Supreme Court are a rather embarrassing spectator sport. It’s the Triple Crown for nerds. Don a fascinator and go down to Pimlico for another round of degenerate betting and muddy animal cruelty. Watch that 727 full of containerized pens land on 10 under that Indian Summer soup. The semen will be arriving overnight on dry ice, expedited FedEx. Or maybe it has its own plane. Who the hell knows. Make also horse have milky explosion. Make benefit Glorious Nation of Bougiekistan.

P. J. O’Rourke is right: It’s teen pregnancy, only more so. It’s the third, most inexplicable, branch of government. It’s Bullshit. The power of its writs is the extent to which the people will tolerate them. Ask Chappaquiddick Cool Change what his theoretically fellow Boston Irish thought of edicts from Brahmin judges that they send their children to integrated public schools. It’s often the worst who resist such orders the most: Old Hickory and his henchmen, ethnic bigots in New York during the Civil War, Thanks for the input, Taney. How many Marshals you got?

The courts are famously our bulwark against majoritarian tyranny. If some generationally rich thug wants to pay you a pittance of scrip for sixty hours a week of blood, sweat, and tears in his bakery, well, maybe the scrip is a problem, or maybe it’s all right, or shucks, maybe we’d best restrain ourselves around Mr. Roosevelt. Do a bunch of shitheads from the Chamber of Commerce whose idea of an economy is minimum-wage concession jobs for the local pool of surplus poor in your postindustrial city full of residually leaded walkup apartments need your house for the new ballpark? What do you do if the Oracle of Nine says yes? Go out front against a sheriff’s SWAT team with a pitchfork? Come on. This isn’t Japan. What two-bit plot of rice do you think you’re defending out by the airport?

The whole point of the Federalist Society is to enforce and perpetuate this regime. Pick a name off the list, tell the Thicc Moist Boi he’s the guy, psych him up a bit, and let him go back to his rageposting and celebrity smackdowns and shouting fits on Hannity. It’s the permanent government behind the provisional government. Trump clumsily but deftly straddles the two, i.e., he’s a front-of-the-house distraction from Stephen Miller and the (increasingly overt) spooks, but he’s also allowed to commit forcible rape. Cosby and Weinstein were, too, until they weren’t. Maybe the Donald will do his own Harv Time. He probably won’t, but as one of the whore-ass men on the Manor Hill episode told his classmates on their way to the apology assembly, these are strange days.

The Federalist Society allows presidents, and none less than the one we enjoy today, to wander away from the nuts and bolts of judicial nominations and return to the more engaging crimes of their office. In Trump’s case, this largely means not crimes, but cringe. It takes focus to post. The libs are owned by the most ridiculous distractions. A few minutes of braggadocious locker room talk with Billy Bush is dispositive of his being a sex offender, as opposed to the general incredibility of Juanita Broaddrick’s public accusation of forcible rape against Bill Clinton, or E. Jean Carroll’s against Trump.

We’re using our words against other people who are also using their words. In no way is language Original Sin for enabling us to lie.

*****

Presidents are busy men–and yes, Kamala, women, too–with great burdens on their agendas, like prevailing on foreign officials and Secret Service details to stay at their branded properties and cheating at golf. The FedSoc streamlines the chores. Here’s who we have up next in the ghoul pen, Donny. He’s a good conservative. Get stoked!

Government is a powerful strange attractor for charlatans and incompetents. Most of This Town is stone out of its mind about how any community of ordinary Americans thinks. The Federalist Society only sounds crazy. It’s an outpost of shrewd, disciplined, ruthless operators in a 90% straight-ticket Democratic cityscape of teminally out-of-touch crybabies. The average American doesn’t want psychopathic right-wing nutjobs dictating the laws binding ordinary Americans any more than he (or she!) wants center-right Nudge Theory creeps calling out the rules at will. Disingenuous appeals to liberty work because people genuinely want genuine liberty. It’s the same thing with appeals to fairness. Ordinary Americans do not want devious elites waiving and warping the rules to oppress them.

Some are arrogant enough to think that are among these elites wielding the whip hand, and a few in fact are. Most, however, realize that a strong measure of fairness is essential to liberty and want both. The overclass is hyperaware of this sentiment.

In California this fall, this elite awareness was on garish display in the aggressive, fraudulent campaign Uber and its peer companies ran on behalf of Proposition 22. The app gig companies demand the rule of privilege, not the rule of law. When the state government denied them their way in the public interest and placed them under the ordinary regulations limiting the misconduct of ordinary businesses, they shamelessly, ruthlessly lied their way out of the jam. Their ad copy was all about how the apps allow working people–carefully coded as stable, not precarious–to make extra money when they have extra time, are essential to minorities, busy working mothers, and people who don’t want their loved ones killed by drunk drivers, and other diversionary frauds. They said nothing about the proven facts that Uber–one of the major backers of Prop 22 and one of the worst offenders in the sector–has a great many drivers working themselves to exhaustion, sleeping in their cars because they’re homeless, and increasingly leasing their cars from Uber on subprime loans.

Uber isn’t acutally a jitney cab network. It’s a con and a racket. It’s been a criminal enterprise since Day One. So have many of its peer companies. The happy horseshit about “side hustles” is a wholesale cult abuse tactic. They’ll never say, oh yeah, we prey upon earnest, downwardly mobile poor kids who want to do right by their families, Shanghai them into accelerated depreciation on their cars, cash them out at deep poverty wages, hose them for subprime rents since we’ve exhausted the pool of financially creditable drivers, and leave them flat broke and sleeping at rest areas, because it sucks to be from Vallejo lol but really because our purpose in life is to make ourselves and our degenerate rich cokehead buddies rich enough to gentrify the Tenderloin. The companies did not dare be honest. They knew the consequences.

It’s no coincidence that this is exactly the same playbook used to lure the gullible, the overly hopeful, and the desperate into paying for distributorships at Amway, LuLaRoe, and Jamberry. It’s exactly how shysters in real estate convince working people to exhaust their life’s savings on worthless building lots in California City. We’re good wholesome evangelicals here. We’re good Mormon mommas. We’re pinoy. Let’s talk about how I’m definitely not Quisling on commission, in Tagalog.

It’s vile. The companies hire amoral marketing whizzes to cynically, strategically appropriate AAVE buzzwords, sanitize them of any underworld connotations, and deploy them to convince underemployed normies in Fairfield that it’s reasonable and not at all sketchy to run their cars into the ground driving the pampered affluent around the Bay Area until they abritrarily get fired by computer. You don’t want to be a burden and a shame on your family for not working, do you? You want to start adulting, don’t you? Uber lets you stack cash!

Here’s a backup plan: Show me a suite of incentives that makes some fucking sense and I’ll think about it. Millennials have been systematically traumatized, and “hustle culture” is a big factor. One group works itself to death for no good reason. Another can’t find work at all. #VanLife somehow stopped being Chris Farley as object lesson. Early thirtysomethings who aren’t able to live in their childhood bedrooms in San Bernardino with no employment history end up in tent shantytowns that get raided periodically by police goon squads. Call Ernesto Olivares if you need camping supplies.

Everything went to hell in 2008. There were private meeting where Hank Paulson talked with colleagues about the possibility of supply lines abruptly collapsing and civilization with them. We’ve never recovered. Ranch houses wouldn’t cost a factor of 10-30 over what are most likely overestimated median household incomes in neighborhoods where the better-off end of the local working class sleeps in its cars and the worse-off half get their encampments swept around like so many dust bunnies from block to block whenever the property owners throw a fit.

Normies keep thinking, oh, this is America; this is Norman Rockwell, just maybe with crappier architecture. It damn well is not. It’s Brazil. In places it’s India. Did you get your picture taken with a precious street urchin in a Calcutta orphanage that time you visited on vacation, or mission or whatever you’re calling it? The authorities found diapers in one of the hand-dug shelter tunnels they discovered in Kansas City.

*****

This is the future liberals want. It sounds outlandish until we remember that the Democratic Party’s highest-ranking officeholder in California is a Wilson-Deukmejian Republican. DiFi and Fancy Nancy are both out to brunch. Good morning. Sunday morning. Nancy is exactly the freakish lady of the house who would beat her maid in Sao Paolo for a living. Eric Garcetti is her psychopathic son who sneaks out of his mansion to shoot bums and tramps for sport with dirty cops.

They used to send us Sacco and Vanzetti. Can you believe it, DeAngelo? A colored fellow can hardly get a foot in the door at the Save-Mart warehouse these days unless he speaks Spanish, though, and even then it’s no guarantee.

The Federalist Society wants this shitty future, too. That’s why it preaches its virtues and pipelines extremist young lawyers into the federal judiciary, to unilaterally legislate this future from the bench. The FedSoc’s difference is one of tone: it loudly and proudly wants most of the same tyrannical evils its ostensible enemies in liberalism abashedly want. There are those who are shameless, and there are those who pretend to feel shame.

The partisan rancor of American politics in the new millennium, so notoriously corrosive of our trust in government and civic health and shit, is little but petty squabbles about tone. They represent the Brahmins and the Optimates, two castes with highly overlapping class interests but acrimonious disputes over precisely which set of terrible aesthetics to use in the fulfillment of their interests at the expense of their social inferiors.

Trump occasionally upsets both of their apple carts for a few minutes, then wanders away because he’s bored with populism again. Pay close attention to who comes out of the woodwork on the Republican side to denounce him and praise Democrats for being unifiers in a time of great division, and pay attention to what they think Trump is doing wrong on policy. It’s the same chickenhawk neocon/neolib ghouls as ever, bitching about how we need to keep our military (“us”) embroiled in ruinous imperial campaigns against scrappy desert tribes instead of asserting our rights as a sovereign nation to pursue an adversarial trade policy with openly adversarial trading partners like China. Trump’s shouting and coarse jingoism are problematic, but so is driving a hard bargain right back on Xi Jinping. We can’t dare retaliate against China for dumping industrial exports on our shores or refuse to play chicken when it threatens to boycott our soy. These are the laws of economics.

It makes me wonder: How long is a Chinaman? I dunno. How long? Whaddaya mean you don’t know him? He’s been running that fucking laundry since 1870!

The Democratic Party’s sniveling centrist twerps are appalled by Trump’s crude antics, but they love any other Republican who genteelly promotes even worse policies with a focus and organization Trump doesn’t care to cultivate. The idea it’s heartwarming to see Rick Wilson agree on something with Nancy Pelosi or Elissa Slotkin is barfworthy. These are some of the worst people on earth. What’s happening here is pretty much just some Optimate shitheads contingently defecting to the Brahmin camp because they get heartburn when Trump and his unsavories throw their shouting fits. There’s no fucking principle to it.

It’s exactly how the celebrated bipartisan comity of the midcentury came to be, too. The politics were different but the underlying dynamics were the same. Midcentury elected officials were too scared by what they’d seen in the Depression to dare comprehensively screw over their constituents for profit. George Wallace increased the salaries of white teachers and black teachers alike. Taft (does it matter which one?) mostly behaved himself. If they would have admired Newt Gingrich, they didn’t act like it. They understood the political consequences of telling constituents to go die in a ditch. It was to their constituents that they were more or less accountable.

One look at Mitch McConnell and he’s obviously a miserable cunt. He’s also truly evil. What are we supposed to do with him? Outcivil the son of a bitch? It’s sure worked so far. Then we get smarmy pricks like Ben’s Ass–now goodness, how do I keep misspelling that?–having centrist circle jerks with the amoral twerps on Wait Wait about how a better way is possible, by following their lead. LBJ would rightly have backed Mr. Ass into a corner like he was T. F. Green until he cut the #PassItOn bootstrap bullshit about the all-around incompetence of his own constituents at adult activities of daily living. On the other hand, the nice Cornhusker says nice things about NPR listeners and their weak centrist politics to Peter Sagal, so maybe he’s good.

The moment these ghouls show their faces–Newt, Gateside Downlow, Mitch, Diddlin’ Dennis, Ass–is the moment the Democrats unsheathe their tongue depressers for the gunfight. They resent the old-school pols among their supposed fellow travelers for fighting fair: Bernie hammering the overclass, Traficant wearing a thick top and wide bottoms to the whipping fence, for that matter Tlaib for hitting back at the Donald, even if she confuses Ivanka for his mother. They’ll stoop to the ghouls’ level on policy, but never on decorum.

It’s a preposterous thing to say about Fancy Nancy, but she believes it. We’re allowed to live in our own realities. Mr. Rogers was cool with a little of that, but know this: We have to pay our pound of flesh for the privilege now. We’ll cut off Mina Kim’s interview with Jesus Kristof and Wife unless we hear from our pay pigs. No, better, we’ll cut it off for the balance of the hour to reach out to our pay pigs.

We’re all good little pay pigs!

*****

That’s what we used to call the offertory, or the collection plate. This here ain’t civics; it’s church. Mother Nancy is our high priestess, Adam Parkhomenko our loyal deacon. How could Avignon would have had a pope?

Remember: we’re virtuous. That’s why we’re here. We’re the bulwark against an illiberal president like Donald Trump droning father-and-son birthright US Citizens to death without a warrant oops and mentally unstable bigoted rapists in the White House oops again and the drone president’s emeritus Solicitor General arguing before the Supreme Court that the Nestle Corporation should be allowed to own child slaves well Jesus Christ there’s no way he could have said that.

Of course he did lol. It was just subcontractors tending sharecroppers’ cocoa patches in West Africa. We really wouldn’t want one of our beloved Brands to face civil liability under the Alien Tort Act for practices that are also felonies in every other country with a functioning government. Let’s not be unreasonable here. Sometimes you drive just over the hill from Calistoga on 29 with a case of used seltzer bottles and fill up at the 0.005 cfs watering tub. Sometimes you buy the entire aquifer from an obscure but crooked charter township and sell it back to Flint at a hundred thousandfold markup. Sometimes you prune your own vineyard. Other times you chain a Mexican kid to an avocado tree and whip him until he makes quota.

Right? We’ve all been there. Besides, there are legal reasons not to hold US-chartered multinational corporations liable for violations of the Thirteenth Amendment and subsidiary criminal statutes when the violations were committed in foreign countries whose governments the same corporations bribed to ignore their already laxly enforced laws against slavery. We should leave the corporate corruption of West African governments a local concern. Corruption probably isn’t a big political issue in Nigeria anyhow. Okay, in that case let’s not fixate on how everybody with a political blog in Nigeria is fed up with corruption. Let’s try not to imagine that public sentiment is similar in nearby countries with weaker internet conections.

It’s like if a thousand Bangladeshis die in a preventable factory collapse. Are we really going to put them out of work to keep them safe? We need the underwear. We need the chocolate. They need the work. We know this is true. Matty is a Democrat.

My shirtwaist is getting into one hell of a triangle right now. Neal Katyal actually argued before SCOTUS that Nestle should be allowed to own slaves. It is a spicy Vindaloo. It is a hearty Jollof Rice.

This is starting to sound awfully like our next veep. Kamala is a slavery enthusiast of color. Neera Tanden isn’t white, either. I guess that’s good to know for some reason. Africans sold their own people across the ocean, just like what the old English elites did to their people, specifically to the Cockneys and the Irish. Do you have a problem with any of this straight talk about race? Waka waka hey–Hey, you ain’t black!

Normally I’d feel bad about strawmanning, like, maybe Katyal is just a huge piece of shit, not a Western supremacist or whatever, but this shit is insane. It’s hard to miss the touchy racial and geopolitical implications. Grease it up with some moral relativism and the idpol flies straight through the looking glass. This is not, in fact, how we like to #RaceTogether, here in America. You get food to eat, Ricky Ray, just like we told you.

The allegations against Nestle and Cargill are much worse than just slavery. They include maiming and permanent disfigurement. Our first half-black president’s ex-solicitor general doesn’t think our poor American corporations should be on the hook for their contractors or subcontractors skinning their workers alive. This is really hideous stuff. It’s the worst of the South. American or Global, it doesn’t matter.

The Alien Tort Claims Act was enacted to provide foreigners living under inept or corrupt judiciaries at home recourse to sue US defedants in US courts for crimes the defendants committed against them at home. The slavewhipping Framers of 1789 foresaw the inadequacy of the Ivoirian courts to hear slavery claims. They knew the titans orchestrating the whole thing would take the money and run. It was the same thing they and their cronies did. For God’s sake what fool would leave valuables lying around in front of the slave shacks?

Of course they were hypocrites. It’s bad, but they bequeathed a good framework to their better successors.

And then this creep Katyal showed up. Oh, this isn’t anything we should be worried about, publicly traded companies with US charters and domiciles profiting from the torture and maiming of kidnapped adolescents. Jefferson is easy enough to understand. Katyal is dumbfounding. It’s inconceivable for a lawyer to make those arguments in open court, and in a civil case at that. It’s /Terminal Robert Dziekanski Voice/ shocking. I’m mostly used to the United States being a moral disaster zone, but dear fucking God, that’s bad.

Eichmann got hanged for putting Neal Katyal’s arguments into action under force of law. That’s what Katyal is. He’s a latter-day Eichmann. Arendt you glad his kids don’t go to school with yours?

Look at his old boss, though. No Drama Obama looks bad in hindsight for hiring the creep, but we didn’t need to learn about any of this ugliness to expect bad things of Mocha Haole. We’re just trying to burn dissidents and their minor children to death with remote-control missile jets more aloha here. Mamma followed that bumiputra fellow home under Suharto and the Ford Foundation because, see, I–eh, never mind. It’s a hearty deep dish pie we’re eating here on the South Side tonight.

These are birds of a feather. Kamala is of the flock as well. One thing I’ll say in Barry’s favor is that he’s less in-your-face vile than that bitch. She’s just awful. We’ve been through that before. The latest festivities, to fill the uncanny valley with the bizarre, involve the search for a Senator of Color, perhaps even a Woman Senator of Color, to replace Her, a process that has obliviously missed Loretta Sanchez. I knew they’d do that, but I hadn’t thot of it in a minute. I’m still going insane. Alex Padilla worked for DiFi, so of course he’s colored. I forget who else they were talking about, although I’ve heard nothing about Antonio Villaraigosa. He must not be crooked enough. He isn’t creepy, just sleazy. You call that Spanish? You call that English? John Hatfield Maglited a black guy as a Latino, so I’m afraid so. Last I heard he was gonna be a nurse.

At least Harris and Garcetti aren’t our only colored role models in high office. My grandfather liked to call my uncle Kike Douglas, so I’m sure it’d be hella fun if the Jews were made off-white again.

*****

As I was saying, this Katyal stuff is driving me nuts. How are his arguments not top-of-the-fold front-page national news? Rhetorical, of course; we know why; but still.

We have slavery in the United States, too. We just declare our slaves criminals. In fairness, that guy we scalded to death in the prison shower in Florida was too crazy for a work detail, and Kamala’s idea of slavery involves nothing more than keeping the nonviolent in prison longer so they remain excempt from the minimum wage as firefighters.

Imagine a country where Paul Tanaka is the national police chief and the entire country is the Louisiana State Penitentiary, the other Angola, but they’re all black. This is the Ivory Coast. It’s close enough in a society where a retired government lawyer in good standing with the bar can tell the high court that it’s okay for companies to employ malnourished, grievously maimed chattel slaves, because why not.

*****

Here’s the thing about the Federalist Society, though. Its SCOTUS picks are not operating as programmed. Kavanaugh and ACB listened to Katyal’s chilling proposal and were like, what the fuck man. Gorsuch is a trailblazer on Indian Nation sovereignty.

A couple of things are happening here. ACB seems to be a sincere TradCath. You’re saying they can do WHAT to kids? Excuse me? Kavanaugh is a sexually disordered hot mess, the kind of guy who might be found helping Bob Hanssen set up his bedroom peephole camera after the Opus Dei meeting, but for the Smut Prince of the Lewinsky Hearings his jurisprudence is surprisingly liberal. As bad as his sexual misconduct was, it was always just booze-soaked sexual assault or flashing in the heat of the moment. Press-ganging kids onto a cocoa plantation and leaving them with stigmata is way beyond anything he’d ever do, or even imagine doing. Like his newest colleague, he was genuinely horrified. Judges are expected to maintain a poker face, and they often do so diligently, but these two have consciences and feelings. Gorsuch, in spite of his sometimes atrocious appellate jurisprudence, is normal for a lawyer.

More broadly, though, what’s going on here is that these justices, like so many of their colleagues, care deeply about their legacies. Judges who don’t give a shit about the law or equity per se get cowed into bowing before stare decisis because they hate being ridiculed by colleagues. These three seem to care about the law, not just their reputations.

Neal Katyal cares only about honestly I can’t tell what. He’s unbelievably soulless and amoral. He’s like his old boss. There’s a whole lot of that in the law. The C students become rich, as they say.

All we can do now is wait for the decree of a Jewess, a spic, an abrasive wop, a bunch of honky motherfuckers, and that Gullah weirdo about what exactly constitutes African-American law for Nestle and Cargill. Maybe it’s a bad sign that counsel for Monsanto is on the case. That’s one they didn’t keep down on the farm for sure. What I’ll be most interested to hear is what those who are scandalized by my language think about two Fortune 100 companies having Barack Obama’s lawyer argue that it’s good of them to buy from thugs who went full King Leopold’s Ghost on emaciated captive teenagers.

It should be fun. They’re Harris voters. I should scalp some yard signs.

Disincentives to work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do we still wonder how Trump won Schuylkill County?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So was slavery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whatcha gonna do when war is no more? Whatcha gonna do when war’s verdun?

We wait in joyful hope for the Blessed Eschaton, the day to come, not right now but someday, somehow, if you can hold fast to patience, Kroeger, we will climb aboard the Cruise Ship, leave it all behind, sail to Lahaina, and get into a street fight over a picnic table with a family of Micronesians.

This is how we allocate territory and resources more aloha. That’s almost an anagram for haole, whose insolent ass the Visitors Aloha Society of Hawaii will gladly return to sender, with or without an escort to the gate from the Attorney General’s office. One of the meanings of aloha is “goodbye,” yeah? She jus toldja, Pablo, yeah? She ain’t invited ya to da luau dis time, not to come here and pass da kine dacha coffin.

When push comes to shove, to wax delicate about these rude matters, the rules are whatever the hardest group of hard bastards to show up to the pig roast say they are. Indigeneity is an arbitrary, nebulous concept. “We were here first; who the hell are you?” is a reasonable position, but reasonable doesn’t carry the guns. Multiple indigenous tribes fight for control of the same patches of the Levant, the Caucasus, and the Balkans, with renowned results. Maybe they aren’t indigenous after all, depending on whom their ancestors charged in and beat to death first.

As Rachel Dolezal will agree, we’re all Africans. Pitcairn Islanders are mixed and at the same time inbred. They’re like Mainers, always thinking they’ll accomplish something by miscegenating with the Canucks. If you’re here, you’re family, and you might not want to be.

Back here on the Mainland, haole be talking the story all words-like about how we need to respect and obey our kupuna, notably including John Bolton. That Chesapeake Walrus was on NPR again, this time for his book (duh) but also to promote in-person voting, the civic pilgrimage of standing in line with the rest of the neighborhood. Why wouldn’t that pompous son of a bitch act like a quadrennial or biennial trip to the school gym to vote is the only time Americans ever leave the house to engage in the agora or the polis? Yeah yeah, we have off-year and primary elections, too; whole lotta folks showing up for that lol.

Voting is expressly and strictly a mechanism for the individual citizen to tell the government what to do. For example, a common constituent demand is “mail me my ballot, bitch.” In other words, I’m telling you what to do for me, and I’m telling you from home, asshole.

This is meta, but barely. We have to fight for our right to fight for our right to tell John Bolton to fuck off from the goddamn radio. That ghoul got over a million people killed for no good reason and tens of thousands more grievously injured or maimed, and there he is, using a book plug to complain that voters aren’t sufficiently reverent in how they vote. That’s what this shit is. It’s a procession. It’s a pilgrimage. It’s the fucking Stations of the Cross and the Camino de Santiago and all that shit, but for Norman Rockwell-ass nerds. Of course we should resent the government for pushing this shit on us. Of course we should vote the bastards out if they don’t put a stop to it and let us vote with maximum convenience.

John Bolton wants us to wait in line like dutiful pilgrims to express our will to our governments. I don’t suppose the lines at his polling places resemble those in, say, Atlanta under Brian Kemp, probably in large part because his neighbors think it’s ridiculous and demand ballots by mail. I fucked around at the County Center for a few hours on election day in March and watched traffic at the drop box, but I’d be pissed if Sonoma County told me to do that as a condition of voting, and I’m annoyed to hear John Bolton, of all Strangelovian horrors, being the faux-folksy codger who says that’s how it ought to be. Andy Rooney wasn’t behind a string of war crimes.

At some point, I have to wonder what isn’t meeting tonight to make waiting in line to vote feel so resonant. The Rotary? The Knights of Columbus? We do rather more of that than we should, as Americans, and we have precious little to show for it. The good Tocquevillean shit doesn’t work so well when Carnegie and Frick hire their Pinkerton goon squads. Standing up to such thuggish scum is how people wrest back their rights from tyrants. Queuing up in a parish hall like it’s the fucking unemployment office doesn’t connect cops with bricks.

We’re confusing upstream and downstream here, just as Bolton and the gang would have it. Since riots and other protests have been flaring up this year, we’ve been hearing more than usual about how much our public officials and other supercilious derelict busybodies respect peaceful protesting but abhor rioting, violence against police, and every other tactic that forces them to pay attention and do something. Of course they want a few handfuls of doofuses milling about on the National Mall in tricorn hats. Of course they want the pussyhatters, wearing a different style of tricorn watering the tree of liberty with a more peaceful flow of blood.

They started allowing us (sic?) to vote in the first place as a way to figure out how to keep the bricks in their place in times of popular grievance, i.e., by keeping the cops in theirs. It wouldn’t be unproductive to stage a runway sit-in anymore than it was unproductive of Richard Daley to send that streets crew into Meigs Field at half of dawn. Remember, we’re trying to get our way here, not express fealty to officials who can’t be bothered to care. *Most civic antigentrification Roger Schafer voice* I didn’t do shit to the dozer! I was cutting concrete!

The same tyrannical impulse drives all the scolding our Oaf of Office caught a few weeks ago for calling our war dead losers and suckers. The war dead he caught the most flak for disrespecting were from the First World War, the War so Great they didn’t try to plan for one greater. In other news, Francisco Franco is still dead.

I’m unaware of Americans of any importance making a patriotic stink about the Grand Army of the Republic in my lifetime. This is in stark contrast to Vietnam, although somewhat oddly not Korea. In effect, Trump holds the majority opinion on honoring our WWI dead, specifically, that it’s unimportant.

The namecalling doesn’t play as well in Peoria. Constituents who support Trump’s effort (lol sic) to get our boys (and girls!) out of the desert may well take offense to hear their antiwar president speak so contemptuously of war’s victims in the United States Armed Forces. Again, though, the doughboys he was dissing have been dead hella long, and the media shot their load on the story by focusing on Trump’s disrespect for our irrelevant war dead from the trenches of the Western Front and not on those who didn’t manage to run through the jungle.

As obnoxious or offensive as our Thicc Moist Boi’s private commentary may be construed, it was heartfelt. He genuinely and personally believed that the cemeteries weren’t worth visiting. The shitheads who piped up about his disrespect for our war dead don’t care about our war dead themselves. Many of them obviously treat military personnel, dependents, and casualties with dripping contempt. They did the same thing here as always. They seized on the latest bullshit controversy to impugn Trump’s character because they resent him for being a messy bitch from Queens who lives for drama. People of his character should not usurp high office, they fume.

What they mean by character, of course, is poor manners. Most of his predecessors were men of shockingly bad character. It’s just that they cleaned up well and the Donald does not. SuperZIP gaslighting victims now esteem George W. Bush, a man who respected our troops enough to get thousands of them killed in a war he started on false pretenses, with the main effect of destabilizing a country whose strongman the Blob hated for some reason, even though he was one of the less hostile officials in his region. Fuck off if you think I’ll grant that cokehead failson the good repute of caring about the military personnel under his command. He cared about them as much as he did the victims of 9/11. *Suprisingly high-energy Jeb! voice* Please, collapse.

Donald Trump gets war in a way few of his recent predecessors have. There may be an idiot-savant element to it, but he has the good sense to recognize that it was disastrous of the US to intervene in WWI and a Vietnamese civil war. Framing the disaster in terms of the gullibility or lameness of the grunts who fought these wars is pretty close to the mark, even if offensive. If they’d refused to go, we wouldn’t have gone, because they were us.

The battlefields and cemeteries don’t really tell us what happened. They’re misleading if we aren’t careful. I’ve walked around Valley Forge and Gettysburg. They’re deceptively peaceful. They’re long cleansed of the blood and piss and shit and moans of death. We watch Ken Burns for some drumming, a quick spot of shooting, and another spin of that sweet-ass Ashokan Farewell. Gettysburg wasn’t like that, either.

An area I like even better than Gettysburg is the Catoctin Mountains. I’ve walked around the ruins of the Catoctin Furnace and read the interpretive signs. It may have taken a loser or a sucker to run the forge for the rich degenerates who owned it. It certainly did to work for Carnegie. It takes nothing of the sort to divert ball bearings to the riot police. Horsey go wheeee!

Donny Fingers cares about that every bit as much as he cares about Camp David. What good is it for golf? The fucking government owns it, so he can’t charge for accommodations. That loser Lincoln only has one Bedroom.

Camp David has been used for peace, though, and so, in bizarre ways, has Donald Trump. That’s one of the reasons he’s so hated in Washington. He won’t mouth their deadly pieties. He’ll mouth his own, of course, but not theirs, and hoes mad.

A screaming eagle on fire, perched on a beam of steel

It’s been nineteen fucking years. The twentieth we’re keeping in reserve in Colorado lol. #TooSoon, of course. I was young then, so I feel kind of old now, no longer merely a freshman in this society where nobody is ever held responsible.

Not the ones who do the deeds, at least: remember, George W. Bush is a good liberal now. Even if he didn’t, uh, start the fire, he’s been on the record all along for ordering campaigns of official torture that would have gotten him hanged at Nuremberg.

It makes me feel like I’m having a stroke. Any Hannibal Lecter scumbag who doesn’t trick himself out with MAGA gear or talk trash about centrist celebrities is the #Resistance. My parents and their peers get really uncomfortable when I argue that Trump is not the most illiberal president of my lifetime and definitively is not the first illiberal, divisive, or immoral man to hold the office. Whenever I hear another round of that shit I point out that every other president going back to Reagan, my birth president, was at least as divisive, illiberal, and immoral as the current Oaf of Office, based on actual policy, not just the warm fuzzy feeling that they didn’t yell so much back then.

I think many liberals have spent the past twelve years but especially the past four doing everything they can to forget the horrors of the Bush-Cheney Regime. Trump doesn’t exactly have a Cheney figure; Barr comes close, but he’s a new kid on the block–preowned, actually–in an administration with exceptionally high churn and low institutional memory. If we’re actually looking to limit their damage, we should be grateful that they don’t know where anything is around the office. Few things stand between the Trump Administration and its missing administrative incompetence than the Donald’s own impulsiveness, disorganization, and drama.

This popular centrist derangement makes sense when we remember that the Democratic Party is a cult whose liturgies are set by Josiah Bartlet and folk devils exorcised by Rachel Maddow. We have always been at war with Eastasia, chap!

The Inner Party is mostly grifting; it’s again rid itself of its true threat, Bernie, and can now focus on cynically pretending to oppose Trump for being the worst ever. As long as Bernie isn’t their standard bearer and is given minimal influence over the platform and agenda, Chuck and Nancy truly do not care. They can work with Trump; the record shows that they regularly do exactly that.

The rank and file in the Outer Party take that bullshit much more seriously. This is what makes the cynicism of the Inner Party so heinous. The rich are ginning the merely affluent and in some cases the middling into hysteria so they’ll give more money. It’s despicable.

A spray-tan blowhard in elevator shoes calling people losers almost at random isn’t enough to make me forget or forgive the paranoid hysteria that erupted after 9/11. Bush and Cheney still deserve nothing but ill will for that. Most of the incumbent political class at the time does as well, including the Democrats. The mainstream media sure as hell do. I guess my memory and span of attention are longer than Trump’s. It’s cause for gratitude and relief that we haven’t had a definitive Reichstag Fire-ass casus belli on Trump’s watch. Compared to precedent within my adult life, this is no small mercy.

By the way, why the fuck do the Democrats have to slobber all over every general’s staff in exchange for his endorsement of their latest reviled shithead? Trump is bad, but he doesn’t make them good. Between the all-around weirdness of our old soldiers and spooks and the calamities they’ve made of our foreign engagements, maybe we ought to stop listening to a thing they tell us until we’ve confirmed it with someone we can trust.

Seriously, they’re bad news. Just by taking the usual Beltway shit less seriously Trump is an improvement. He doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing, either, but he’s less of a snake, and he calls bullshit from time to time. If we’re doing attack retrospectives, something too consider,,, about 9/11 is that the fourth anniversary of Pearl Harbor was celebrated under President MacArthur in Japan. We’re nineteen years out from an attack that served no clear military objective per se, still raping hornets’ nests abroad in countries whose regimes were vaguely or fictionally connected to the attacks, and meanwhile the Saudis are still our good buddies in spite of it all.

This must be why generals who thought, and still think, our military adventurism in the Middle East was necessary or justified or plainly good are now indispensable defenders of democracy against a Commander-in-Chief who occasionally says they’re full of shit. #Resistance dipshits don’t turn to them for backup just when Trump is mouthing off about not leaving office or pursuing a third term; they turn to them when he’s merely calling our foreign and military policy stupid, or said to have called our World War I dead losers and suckers. Talk about an ability to #NeverForget anything but the lessons of our worst wars.

Forgetting 9/11 wouldn’t be the worst thing we could do, especially when our remembrance has had such disastrous effects for so long, not just for other countries and nations but for our own. The only proper way to remember, it seems, is with the spicy memes. They do more to defend our freedoms than the US government has ever attempted in response to 9/11.

Hoosier favorite Hoosier faggot?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fancy them caring about that, though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That fucking putz again

If Sonoma County had its current cumulative per capita death toll and New York State’s population, it would have lost about 650 residents to the Rona. So of course we’re the ones who are ordered to quarantine on arrival in New York State. Of course it’s the police in New York who are confronting arriving air passengers and issuing them $2,000 citations if they try to enter the state without filling out an arrival card with their contact information and recent travel history. The arrival card is laid out with space to provide only two sets of travel dates to disclose travel in any of the dozens of states on the quarantine list because of course it fucking is.

I can’t tell if this shit is actually being enforced or just advertised to scare us. It’s public health theater regardless. The inbound quarantine order is a tristate effort, but apparently only Cuomo is getting all loud about it and sending cops into airport terminals to enforce it, or pretend to enforce it. I’ll probably check for evidence that this isn’t just bluster with a couple of bored cops sitting off to the side over the coming days.

There are at least two glaring problems with this arrival card scheme, leaving aside the also glaring civil liberties infringements. First, passengers routinely arrive at New York State airports for transit into Pennsylvania, which is not part of the tristate quarantine compact. Second, there’s a variety of other ways to enter the compact area from Pennsylvania or Delaware. These include, by my count. 34 road bridges across the Delaware River, pedestrian walkways on some of these bridges, and three passenger rail lines.

Ain’t nobody checking that shit. The fuck can they do? Have Jersey Staties get up in people’s faces on the Speed Line and another round of Port Authority cops get up in their faces in Manhattan? They’re arrogant and wasteful, but not enough to do that. Google Maps has been showing normal highway traffic speeds into the compact area, just as I expected. It’s easier than usual to fly into South Jersey’s main airport, in Philadelphia, and drive over the river from there. I assume the trains are still fine, although I know I should never say that about SEPTA.

Delaware was on the quarantine list for, like, a week, or maybe three days. Look it up if it’s that interesting. What stands out to me about Delaware is that it should in no way exist. Shove it all back into Pennsylvania, or shove it all into Maryland so the state lines don’t look so fucked up. Split it between the two. Give the District of Columbia its statehood, 100% zero sum. The only fucking thing Delaware does is coddle corporations, and sometimes their shitty owners, notably the Duponts. Mr. Dupont will not fare well in prison on his child abuse conviction. Gee, I suppose he won’t, but they could always spend less money incarcerating not just that pervert but Delawareans in general and not need to skim office parks that incorporate fifty companies per square foot to fund their “state” government.

It’s striking, especially in contexts like Andrew Cuomo’s thots on public health or the United States Senate, that our Several States are rather disparate. Idaho is on the tristate quarantine list. So is California.

This whole exercise is statistically meaningless. California has something like eight counties with populations larger than Delaware’s. Rural Northern California has a very manageable problem with the Dread Ailment. The Bay Area is doing pretty well. Things are worse in the Central Valley from Sacramento County southward and in Southern California. Imperial County is in terrible shape, but it’s insular. Few of its residents travel anywhere but back to Mexico. I’m much likelier to encounter people from ultralow-infection counties in Oregon than anyone freshly arrived from El Centro (first prize: one week; second prize: two). Reno likewise, although Nevada is conveniently on the list, along with us.

Washoe County was in much worse shape than Sonoma County last I checked. I swung through anyway last week, but let’s be clear about some shit: I spent all of about six minutes indoors in Washoe County, to get snacks in an empty Maverik where the cashier and I were both properly wearing masks the whole time, and I masked up whenever I passed other hikers on Mount Rose. Andrew Cuomo had infectious patients discharged from hospitals into nursing homes. Oops.

I’m not fucking going to New York to infect the locals, and frankly I find it offensive to hear that putz insinuating that we are because California’s numbers are mediocre. We have yet to hit anything like New York did a few months ago, and I doubt we will. Gavin Newsom is taking it seriously, and it shows. I wish he hadn’t allowed tasting rooms to reopen at all, and I’m not too comfortable with indoor dining, but Nob Hill Dreamboat is taking the most recent spike seriously enough to shut down bars statewide. This means the usual suspects can’t go out to the usual licensed meat markets to get tore up. Some of them will still go to speakeasies or house parties, but the germ swaps diminish the night the bars are closed.

Maybe it’s shallow or flippant to think about aesthetics in circumstances like these, but the Gavin Gabbin is a much superior institution to whatever the hell Cuomo thinks he’s doing with his mountain charts. (Nipples protuding–very disrespectful!) Gavin’s pressers are solid; he’s a gasbag but not a blowhard. He admits fault. He’s exceptionally sincere and, although he says so himself a bit much, humble. He doesn’t bitch about how other states are endangering Californians and the Semblance of the State of California in This Space. If he wanted to be a grandstanding asshole, he could thunder about Arizona. Arizona borders California, it has high-volume interstate traffic with California, and its hospitals are overwhelmed.

The thing is, he doesn’t like to point at the speck in his neighbor’s eye. My parents’ governor fucking does. It’s cringily obvious that Cuomo is trying to repay his humiliation this spring by lording it over other governors and their states now that New York has the pandemic under control. Phil Murphy and Ned Lamont don’t do this. It’s business for them. For Cuomo it’s personal. This is an entrenched theme of his governorship.

What’s even worse is that even though he’s so prickly and abrasive, he mostly just kind of flounders and moans about shit. Maybe I’m missing some good shit because I can’t stand the guy, so I don’t want to take words out of his mouth, but I don’t hear of Cuomo thundering about the reopening of Disney World. He went on Alan Chartock’s show and said “nigger wops,” but he won’t publicly tell Ron DeSantis to get his head out of his ass and shut down the theme parks. He has no sense of priorities.

It would be dramatic but reasonable and prudent to bar direct commercial flights between Orlando and airports in New York State until the tourist traps are shut back down. That would avoid the civil liberties infringements attending the police checks of arriving passengers; travelers would still be free to fly out of other airports in Florida or change in Atlanta, since you can’t even go to hell without doing that first. That’s the capacity to take offline: the portion that is measurably devoted to tourist travel to crowded, badly run venues where hordes of ill-disciplined children run around and touch everything. An overnight showdown with DeSantis, Trump, and the FAA over flights to Orlando could be enough to reshutter the parks. The wellspring of point-source pollution that is Central Florida entertainment has no business being open under the current dispensation.

Yeah yeah, I have a personal antipathy to that weird-ass cartoon fantasyland shit and think it fit to close for good. I’m not wrong, though. I used to work at Hersheypark. We don’t want the kinds of people who visit amusement parks traveling back and forth between the Northeast and Florida this summer. If that dipshit DeSantis won’t discourage it by closing these dumb-as-fuck parks, other officials should discourage it by tactically limiting commercial flight capacity.

Instead Florida’s officials are closing beaches before bars. Guess which has the campaign contributions.

A kingdom full of magic is not a civil right. If you think it is, you can drive there. Amtrak is still running. And yeah, I think air travel should be prioritized for people like me who have relatives and friends to visit across the country, not for Disney Freaks who are going to have full-family meltdowns in weather nobody with a damn shred of sense would visit on a pilgrimage. There’s never a time for that, but this really isn’t the time. And yes, I very much resent and bristle at anyone who tries to lump me in with that crowd of reckless, demanding freaks because I’d like to be able to visit my parents without functionaries intruding into my travels to make Andrew Cuomo feel grand.

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.