At the corner of suck my cock and fuck you too pal

Being the disorganized anxious-avoidant dipshit I am who knows as much about psychiatry as a keen observer would expect, I ran out of lamotrigine on a trip back east and had to get my prescription transferred from California to New York. There’s no Safeway here, which, oops, but there is Walgreens, so I got to spend $68 for would have cost me about $20.

They couldn’t even make it nice.

That was after all the discounts. I had to pay $20 to get it for $47.99. They’re probably trying to shave another penny or two off their rewards rebates, but they’re definitely trying to bamboozle customers who aren’t in the habit of rounding up to the nearest dollar in the presence of sleazy retailers. The $20 was to join the prescription discount club. You have to pay for prescription coupons at Walgreens. Membership is good for a year, so I can now get all the lamotrigine I want for a 150% markup until next June, unless they raise the discounted subtotal again.

The online coupons I was finding for Walgreens were horrifying. The cheapest was something like $150. I asked the pharmacist about the rack rate. $389. Bitch the fuck? It wasn’t her fault, of course, but dear fucking God. It has to be awful to complete pharmacy school and then discover how many of the job openings are with the same sleazy passive-aggressive shakedown behemoth. It has to be annoying, to say the least, to be professionally trained to spot and intercept drugs with potentially fatal interactions and be forced to tell customers that because they don’t have the proper coupon and their insurance is out-of-network they’ll be paying $400 for a bottle the size of a shot glass half full of universally available generic antidepressant tablets the size of Grape Nuts. Is it under $20 at Price Chopper, with that other coupon? Yes. Is it $389 here at the MSRP? Yes. Why? Fuck me, man; I only work here.

In a country with the rule of law, it would be possible for any customer getting Shanghaied like that to have government auditors collect and return $369 in change the next business day, along with the change due every other customer for every other gross overcharge. Real Heads of Depression recognized it as the 25, and everybody recognizes lamotrigine as definitely not an artisanal antidepressant ground, mixed, measured, and packaged by hand by Ye Olde Village Compounding Apothecary. This shit isn’t Charlie Smithgall walking into the garden with a mortar, a pestle, and a pair of scissors to custom-cut an order of St. John’s Wort. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t charge $389 for that, either.

None of this has shit to do with the free market or supply and demand or economies of scale. It’s extortion. The real retail break-even point for lamotrigine 25 mg 240 count is probably under $10. That should be enough to cover what it costs to manufacture, ship, stock, and dispense the pills. If it isn’t, Walgreens would do fine running the pharmacy as a loss leader for the rest of the store, to get the goobers in for the markups. The cost of getting that shit from the factory floor to the patient’s hands is not $1.62 a fucking tablet. Break me off a piece of something weaker, Stossel; I’m already hallucinating.

This bullshit has yielded Canada much tourism. Drug prices, eh. It’s like how my parents had to drive an hour and a half to Plattsburgh instead of 45 minutes to Queensbury for their Rona shots, and had to go to the old SAC base four times, because their Honorable Governor’s high orations about public health and how much he cared, did not extend to making it feasible to get the damn vaccine. I’m a low-grade paranoiac who keeps up with fellow travelers, and yes, there have been irregularities with these vaccines, and by God do the overwrought incentives raise questions, but when I got over my paranoia last month, I’d waited long enough to walk in for the J&J one-and-done at the Aviation Mall and walk out less than an hour later. They have brined me now alhamdulillah; alhumdulillah I am brined in full. Plattsburgh was so popular nobody went there anymore. That’s why the putz is noisily offering a SUNY/CUNY tuition lottery in a desperate effort to shoot all the kids. Business is down.

Greetings from the Hellstate. Montreal is always worth a visit, and many wouldn’t go unless they had to run errands, but that’s the problem. Who the fuck wants to take a bus to Montreal just to go to some random pharmacy? It’s no accident that our Canadian vice president graduated from Westmount. Neither of our dogshit major parties, if we even conceive of any others, have space under the big tent for a Francopopulist who figures ya hon hon hon have to represent Trois-Rivieres but sure, we can fund a friend’s Metro trip, too, but why the fuck wouldn’t you base the whole system on pneumatic tires, are you a goddamn Toronto limey bastard.

It’s so different now anyway. It’s so much worse. Canada is currently indisposed, to us a(ll), at least. It wishes not to catch sick, and we’d be inconsiderate not to show full trust, confidence, and deference before the demands of a couple of greasy nepotists like Justin Trudeau and Doug Ford when they insist that they’re just trying to keep their constituents healthy and alive. It’s a disappointingly American story, one reminiscent of Cuomo and any number of shitbags in and around the White House. Thank God Canada hasn’t vomited its own Anthony Fauci into a position of supreme epidemiological authority. Of course, Canadians can always borrow Tony, same as they can listen to NPR, watch NBC over the air if they’re close enough, and go shopping in New Hampshire lol jk sucka.

NAFTA Schengen is even farther away than it was. The only way to come close to enjoying it now is to know where to shimmy up against the cliff to evade the sensors and know you shit in dumpsters a few times, just not exactly how many. That’s what happens when you’ve done all the drugs, just like Keith Richards, except you always took the generic versions.

I repot, you de shite. What’s especially shitty about this for me is that, absent the still-indefinite closure of the land border and my parents’ screwiness about driving places when they live in a municipality with absolutely no public transit, we’d pretty reliably be able to drive to Montreal in under three hours and get hella drugs hella cheap. In October 2015 I got an ENT PA to scoop some special fall colors out of my ears. After he spent under ten minutes examining and rotorootering my ear canals, he got one of The Doctors to write me prescriptions for oral ciprofloxacin and Ciprodex ear drops. The Ciprodex came in the same style of itty-bitty bottle used for food coloring. It isn’t particularly complicated shit: same antibiotic as the tablets, cipro, plus dexamethasone, a common steroid, in normal saline. Yeah, it has to be medical-grade, not a thimble out of the Dead Sea, but it doesn’t fucking take CERN to produce that shit.

It cost $231. I’m not kidding. It was definitely well over $200. My dad was, quite reasonably, taken aback. I went online and found a forum where a Canadian pharmacist reported having it in stock for a retail price of about $30.

The loony is more or less worth something, but never by that much. We’re getting scammed. We’re all getting shaken down.

The germane question here isn’t anything about how enterprising and innovative America’s pharmaceutical companies are, leading the world in the development of new drugs; they either get the government to pay for that shit, throw a bit of their own money here and there at Boomer Dick Pills, or don’t do R&D at all. No, the germane question is the cost of toothpaste. Toothpaste, like prescription pharmaceuticals, is manufactured under strict quality control. Industrial chemists make sure it’s to spec. If we feel like being way too fucking generous and assuming that the suspension of a long proven, widely used antibiotic and steroid require quality control costs a hundredfold greater per cc than toothpaste, Cirprodex would cost, like, $5 a bottle. AIM sells for a buck a tube at Fred Meyer.

We don’t need to be exact here; leave that for the chemists. All the math we need for this STEM project, for making good minds GRRRREAT!, is this problem, using examples from the community: Compare and contrast Mr. Charles with Ming. In this problem, Mr. Charles is a normal-size housecat I met in a B&B in the Shenandoah, while Ming is the adult tiger Antoine Yates kept in the ghetto (in the ghetto), with family buckets of KFC and also an alligator.

Cat people. Many such cases!

I was probably too generous with the $5 estimate. I don’t give a shit. I took statistics in college becuase everybody would have made me even more self-loathing than usual if I’d dropped out. Whatever. The problem with this country, and others, too, but definitely the God-blessed US of A, is that our ability to work with orders of magnitude is fucked. It doesn’t work. In a vague conceptual way, Americans understand that Bill Gates has a higher net worth than a dentist. What they don’t get is, okay, look: Assuming Bill Gates is worth an even million, your dentist is worth a plate of spaghett at Denny’s. Depending on circumstances, that might include an iced tea, dessert (why?), or even the tip, as a special treat. Your dentist isn’t going out for dinner at Cattlemens in this scenario without a HELOC.

America’s Dumber Is Always Open. For real, using the same ratios, Bill Gates the bare millionaire would make it impossible for a successful dentist to take the wife (or husband!) and kids out to lunch without getting in hock to Donald Trump’s lenders. (Ronald Reagan went for free.)

Raise the fucking marginal rates, of course. The same people who don’t grok the dire significance of not dispossessing thugs like Gates, Musk, Bezos, and Buffett into mere multimillionaires–yes, Sir Warren gets the haircut, too–often don’t understand just how astoundingly widely the possibly nonfictional R&D costs borne by pharmaceutical companies are distributed once a drug is in production. Lamotrigine isn’t artisanally hand-pressed by Keebler Elves. It pours off the production lines like wheat down a combine harvester’s spout into a hopper. Yeah, they pay a lot of people a lot of money to keep the operation running smoothly, with fewer recalls for fatal side effects in theory than in practice, but that’s because they churn out absolute shitloads of drugs. Yeah, a 757 costs more than my Civic. It’s because I’m not clown-carring a manifest of 200 from O’Hare to LAX in four hours.

What if United loses money flying my fat ass across the country? Good. Century Boulevard! We LOVE it! Actually, some of us don’t so much. Beyond the incomprehension of scale, there’s a deeper principle of trying not to get cucked and suck cock for The Brands when they sustain operating losses on some transactions. They’re what we call too big to fail, and they’re called that for a reason. They do not just kind of oopsy-doopsy lose money and not get it back. That only happens when they’re looted down to the nuts and bolts. But that’s okay, too. That’s why we have a government. They need their constituent services. The grand or so I lost on United and American stock after 9/11 so they could float new offerings and then charge me thirty a bag at check-in wasn’t enough.

Drug prices make airfares look comprehensible. The system is based on the assumption that nobody actually pays the full price because everybody has insurance or a coupon or something. Okay, so why the fuck is that the list price? I’m prudent to demand to know exactly what the pills will cost me if I cut the bullshit and just pay upfront. For one thing, Kaiser was out of network, just as I expected. For $20 or $36 or whatever at Safeway, I don’t mind. It’s different at a pharmacy that offers what amounts to a $321 convenience fee. That’s the difference I would have had to pay just to pay for it and leave. To get it for *only* $68 I had to wait nervously while the pharmacist and a tech punched God and they alone knew what into a computer terminal.

Only a tiny number of unlucky customers, chosen arbitrarily, get to pay full freight while everybody else gets a steep discount. Cool, Walgreens is the Menands Police Department. Real normal, honest, ethical way to run a business here, chief.

What’s so insane about this shit, not just evil, is that the more the customer pays, the less work the other parties to the transaction have to do. The discounts go only to those who put up with transaction delays for gratuitous bookkeeping or somehow joined one of the specific health insurance programs contractually permitted to enter into billing disputes with the specific pharmacy filling the prescription.

Nobody who doesn’t get paid to deal with that shit should have to deal with it. Entire workforces are trained to consider it normal and appropriate to dump pointless administrative burdens onto their customers on behalf of their employers and then act like they’re doing their customers favors by typing some hocus pocus into a computer for a discount code. Any grocery store doing this would go out of business. Price Chopper doesn’t offer five-pound sacks of potatoes for a hundred dollars but let customers wait around nervously at the register for a discount of 30-95%.

It rules that so many Americans resent the poor for getting free medical care or prescriptions in the Obamaphone tradition instead of just demanding free shit for themselves, too. They already scheme for free shit; fuck around with the mortgage interest deduction and find out. What they don’t like is being forced to admit that they get free shit–they work hard to live in a neighborhood with good schools and Kwesi Millington for Sheriff, you see–or sharing social services wth the poor. Medicaid you get for being a lazy freeloader, but Medicare, now that you earn.

Fuck off. If Medcaid sounds good, demand it as a public option. Demand admission. Demand it for everybody, right here, right now. Bang on the door at HHS: I lives here; can I come in? If enough people join the chorus, the answer becomes yes. The drug benefit needs to stop being this copay and that deductible and start just being drugs. Like, time out, boss, this shit’s been on the formulary forever, five spot and a receipt if I pay cash, but I have my number, so I’m getting it for free. You assholes can talk to the government about it; I’ve already paid.

Dat R&D tho. We can’t be disincentivizing innovation. Otherwise our pharmacorps will stop hiring research scientists and turn into stock buyback operations. What on earth would happen if Amerca stopped believing in hard work?

Buddy that ship’s been sailing for decades, centuries if there’s a free slip in Charleston. A mighty ocean is our national self-esteem. It isn’t seaworthy, but it’s out there.

Doctoring the stats, if we may

We live in noisy, acrimonious times, bombarded by denunciations of the kids these days for being disgraces to their parents. The barbs the Baby Boom caught were more or less for being insolent, i.e., too mature. The ones Millennials catch are even worse. Go read about that recrimination and religitation and general upset somewhere else, say, in any of the hundreds of passages where it’s already been beaten to death like Nigel St. Nigel’s dinner steak in these pages alone.

Occasionally an absolutely standout statistic pops over the transom and brings this bullshit into the stark relief it so desperately needs but so rarely gets, spotlighting the unlikelihood that tens of millions of extra Westerners under forty independently but simultaneously developed the same set of dysfunctional habits, made the same bad choices, and ended up with the same disappointing accomplishments and bleak prospects. From time to time—more like day or few, for those who aren’t numbed by the cultural onslaught—a snapshot pops up to prove, and I mean prove, that what’s happening is not just entire youth cohorts of current, erstwhile, and aspiring hikikomori freely choosing to make ruins of their own lives.

Tonight’s snapshot, for me, was a graph of the annual number of medical graduates in the postwar United States. The line rises steadily through around 1980. Then it falls into an undulating plateau for the next three decades, before rising more steadily again over the past decade, to the present day.

Did the national population do that? Of course not. It didn’t drop some years or decades and rise in others. It kept growing. Say, the turn of the eighties didn’t feature any other pivots from stewardship into schemes to sneak into other people’s houses and gorge on their seed corn at their kitchen tables, did it? Surely that wasn’t a period of constant strikes and lockouts in an effort to hold the line on the worst of the yuppies.

Metric after metric stagnated or reversed in the seventies and early eighties. It’s chart after chart after chart. It turns out they decided to stop training yuppies into doctors, too. It’s odd. It’s surprising. Aren’t the doctors all yuppies?

Yeah. That’s gotta be why. It’s artificial scarcity. When the unions attempt to enforce a third artificially scarce day of each air traffic controller’s work, they’re lazy freeloaders. When the medical schools and professional associations allow the training of new physicians and surgeons to detach from population growth in an aging country on course to start really aging a generation into the future, that’s, uh, markets something. It couldn’t be professional collusion. It’s not like Adam Smith snickered about how it’s impossible to put any two of any type in the same cafe at the same time and not immediately get them to hatch a conspiracy to fix prices.

The civic implications of Adam Smith complaining not just about every possible sort of tradesman being a born price-fixer but also about landlords are important, eternal vigilance as the price of freedom and all that shit. If that priggish gasbag was Mao by way of the Marquis of Queensberry, maybe the business of business really is monkey business and the landlords really are parasites. Smith happily granted that tradesmen are mere cheats. This might be worth keeping in mind when our elected officials and think tank sinecurists open their pieholes to spend time as the economics faculty.

As fellow tradesmen (and women!), certain members of the b College of Esteemed Barber-Surgeons might wish to do likewise for their own financial gain. They might wish to establish themselves as a strictly select fraternity.

Midwives and midwifery enthusiasts have things to say on this topic.

We risk veering into woo. Is natural childbirth any better than natural root canal or natural orthopedics? I don’t have any she-crunchies in my circles to impress at the moment; none of the bitches in that fight are mine. So let’s flip the question. If obstetrics is such a good idea, why have we spent forty years trying to have less of it? Patch my damn cunt right now, Adams! Be of cervix!

This is an entirely serious question. If a stagnating pool of physicians serving a growing population moves out of general or internal medicine and into OB/GYN for the pay (say, due to student debt), there will be a different mix of ill effects on national health, in this case through the neglect of routine checkups and preventative care, and there probably still won’t be enough obstetricians.

Did the raw ability of American medical schools to train new doctors falter for decades in the midst of breathtaking medical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs? I don’t particularly think so. That isn’t a deal where they just dump all the lab instructors into fulltime R&D. These are complementary parts of the system. They have synergies.

That’s a ridiculous answer for why medical school graduations plateaued alongside surges in the yuppie population. It’s more sensible to explain it by pointing out that recruiters for high-frequency trading shops spent years telling undergraduate math whizzes they were too smart for medical school. Don’t waste your career listening to geezers cough; come help us exploit our microsecond advantage over the other bastards by writing algorithms for the direct line we have from the NASDAQ floor to our new server farm in Hoboken.

These are gentlemen’s pastimes. It’s the kind of parasitic legerdemain that would tempt any ruined aristocrat who’s otherwise prone to club his fellow to death because he was budgeting tonight’s winnings for the latest round of last-ditch payments on his ample household debt. Granted, there are workarounds. For example, parliamentary immunity as a refuge from debtor’s prison is an exercise of classic Burkean conservatism.

It helps to know people to get into medical school these days, too. For veterinary school it’s just about a necessity. Mom and Dad are vets, they both know a bunch of other vets, and whaddaya know, precious Madison seizes the opportunity to shadow one of their colleagues and then gush about it on her improbably successful application for veterinary school. Honorably and lucratively, the family tradition endures.

In the Old World, this professional arrangement would generally be called a hereditary guild. Here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave new one, it’s called—well, shucks, it’s called nothing. We’re one of the most obnoxiously, inexhaustably talkative peoples on God’s green earth, and we somehow don’t have the language to describe the hardening tendency of children, in this case the children of the upper middle class, to take up their parents’ lines of work, to the exclusion of young people from other, less fortunate families.

Counterintuitively, it’s because Americans believe so deeply in the power of language. This is why we lack the language to talk about shit the English, the crew of our mothership and the namesake of our common tongue, traditionally classify with a single syllable. Over here, we’re pretending it isn’t odd that the children of veterinarians have such a preternatural inability to regress to the professional mean of not being veterinarians. They get prodded and hazed through the same test hell as any of their class peers, but kum-on, they aren’t all that competitive. They are not all so smart and capable.

Problem is, our Brahmins today get really touchy about what to do with the family dimwits. Maybe it’s their fault if they won’t study hard enough, but that’s beside the point. The dim their families will have with them always. The intense pressure to succeed doesn’t help, either. Some of their cognitive deficiencies—like, where if you talked to them just to talk to them without thinking about their excellence as striver brats you might walk away thinking they aren’t too fucking bright—arise from the pressure to turn them into Scantron idiot-savants. I was transiently dumber for putting up with that shit. You would be, too.

As Dan Quayle supposedly said, not to have a mind is being very wasteful; how true that is. Palo Alto’s teen suicide victims present, or absent, with scholastic aptitude such that they’d have to go to Atlanta to pass their tests. Youth suicide clusters in affluent communities may well in fact skew test scores and college acceptance letters upwards; I don’t care whether they’re crass enough to think of this, because I am, and I consider it a legitimate, relevant consideration.

All they’d do in Atlanta is grab a damn eraser. Encouragingly, it’s the same approach the proctors took on the Operation Varsity Blues show. Hey, champ, I know a guy in Houston. We’re seriously talking about saving people’s lives here.

*****

I’m shitposting, but I am not kidding. Colleges drive teenagers to suicide, and many more to self-harm, by playing around with the admissions dials to goose their cut of the vig. Then they wonder, oh no, our students have mental health problems. How did that happen? This stance conveniently opens up a slot in the trough for every grifting oddball with a PsyD to devise “solutions” that don’t force their employers to solve a goddamn thing. Our colleges retain an awful lot of in-house solicitors and regulatory specialists per capita for institutions that deal with customers they’re destabilizing to the verge of suicide by commending them to the mental health care of psychologists they employ.

Sociopathic multinational corporations that pull this company town shit on their employees in the interest of “wellness” at least pay them a little something for their trouble. The college model is to charge fees for healthcare upfront, along with tuition, and then delay or deny requests to apply the same fees, by this point on deposit at interest and declarable as liquidity on applications for corporate lines of credit, towards bills for the mental healthcare of outside providers who do not have prima facie conflicts of interest.

This shit is just too fucking obvious to give the benefit of the doubt. Rob Ford needed, like, a week of heat from the press to be like, yeah, I guess I can only prove that I smoked crack, but I’m pretty sure I was also drunk to the point of incapacitation, because that seems like the reason why I’d smoke crack. Dude’s Rock.

I am not here to humor anyone who runs a fucking chartered and accredited bachelor’s or graduate program and insists that isn’t a conflict of interest because it’s complicated and I don’t understand. No, asshole, I’m not a moron. I fucking understand. The arrangement for student mental health services at these schools is tangled but easy enough to describe and explain.

The schools are the immediate payors, the patients are their students, and the clinicians are their employees. The patients, usually via their much more solvent parents, have parallel customer relationships with the payor, as tuition-paying students and de facto policyholders enrolled in a group health coverage plan providing routine outpatient care in campus clinics closed to the general public.

Here’s where it gets sick. The clinicians have the specific, exclusive responsibility of treating mental health outpatients who almost always present with specific complaints against the clinicians’ employer, which is also the patients’ insurance carrier and provider network for psychological care whenever classes are in session and they happen to be on campus.

These are distraught teenagers and early twenty-somethings telling psychologists, all but explictly: Your employer is why I’m sick. Your employer is why I’m cutting myself and thinking of suicide. You work for my college. Our college is emotionally ruining me.

This is a mental healthcare system where the patient has an adversarial relationship with the counselor’s employer, EVERY SINGLE TIME. On rare occasions a patient’s difficulties may not have a provable relationship to the school, one of those situations that’s totally unlikely but plausible enough for Coast to Coast. Okay, I’m not saying I was on meth, but I’m not saying the alien didn’t stick a probe up my butt to download my soul, but I’m definitely saying the way I treat my patients is exactly the way I would if they weren’t telling me I’m working for the same organization that makes them want to kill themselves.

*****

At the institutional level, nobody at these schools can do a thing without debasing themselves to some combination of sophistry and carnival barking. That’s an American story if ever there was one. The combination of self-seriousness and power may be the most ruinous thing about this system. It seems not too conducive to peace of mind to bully teenagers already passing through a drawn-out, incoherently justified liminal period that their future wellbeing in everything from earning capacity to professional advancement to marriage and childrearing depends on their successfully walking a gauntlet of power-mad boors, scolds, busybodies, snitches, and lunatics.

Yes, the individual authority figure is allowed to be a mix-and-match; yes, it’s payable upfront; yes, usurers are standing by with installment plans. Call now.

I swear to God, it’s enough of a rite of passage to get the kids into the payroll workforce. The rest of this shit is just fucking insane.

I once had dinner in the same room as John Yoo for a symposium about Lincoln and Taney and why that did or did not make it okay for the intelligence services to subject detainees they’d gotten for bounties to mock executions. You know, the usual. We were treated to the usual high platitudes about robust debate and intellectual diversity and my balls, which were feeling better than they would have in Homan Square. The idea was that we’d be incurious not to give a fair hearing to a scholar of such stature just because we disagreed with his positions.

Whipped little bitch that I still so often am, I fell for this shit. A fair hearing of that asshole’s heinous and yet boring arguments would be to scream at him to shut up and promise to call 911 the next time he comes into sight. That reaction would rise vaguely towards the level of street justice. A pampered asshat like John Yoo would be horrified. People like him flip their shit at the thought of being heckled. They consider it censorship to be denied salaried academic posts and honoraria just because everything they have to say outrages their paying audiences.

This is the usual grievance about cancel culture: some bigshot pissed the wrong people off in exactly the way he knew not to do when he was on one platform, and how he must suffer the humiliation of having to take his large, established audience to a different, comparably prominent platform whenever he feels like it. The same assholes who are so fed up with liberal snowflakes throw a fit whenever one of them is belatedly denied ongoing payment to say absolutely any rotten thing that comes to mind on Fox News. They get outraged at the possibility of a marginal loss in viewership just because one of them barked a vile racist diatribe through a mouth too wine-soaked to form normal consonants.

To make it even more pathetic, they’re all bitter about their relegation to Fox News or some other platform of similar cultural dominance because a fair society would reward their talents with an appointment to Harvard. Yeah, Harvard doesn’t want me, either, doofus. Harvard does not encompass all possible atrocities just because it’s atrocious.

On the other hand, Boalt Hall made space for Philadelphia Eichmann.

This is the point where I start feeling like I’m fucking hallucinating. I’m just some schmuck who does more or less his fair share of the country’s farm work and publishes huge amounts of weird samizdat, some of which a few strangers enjoy reading. I’m over here chronicling the surreal from time to time, and I feel like a huge disappointment for not doing something more worthwhile. Meanwhile, the surreal who give me themselves as posting fodder do circle jerks for a living. They give each other accolades for publishing “legal scholarship” that would get them fired from the average newsroom for incompetence and serious ethical lapses. They get strivers to prove their own genius for a chance to pay for lectures about how it’s constitutional to commit the kinds of war crimes that got all those guys hanged in Nuremberg. It takes excellent grades and stratospheric LSAT scores to get into John Yoo’s lectures, plus a small fortune in tuition and fees.

Academic grades are barely credible without any of these freaks. They have the same problems with fraud, corruption, and chain of custody as subprime mortgages exhibited in the crash of 2008. The very premise of this system is that it can use printouts of some spreadsheet calculations derived from summary reviews of academic performance to classify alumni as anything from heroically hardworking geniuses to lazy retards, often based on coursework whose only copies existed for all of a day or two. To continue the unnerving hallucinatory feeling, the reason grades and grade point averages are taken so seriously is that the assholes relying on them are too lazy to review applicants’ portfolios. The standardized tests serve the same purpose.

The only thing we know about sexual quid pro quo in academia is that it’s underreported. I guarantee it. Sucking or fucking the right person to change some letters and numbers for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of future earnings is exactly what happens when the stakes are as high as they are now.

Most of this perversion and dissolution is only circumstantially provable. There’s conclusive, thoroughly documented evidence of the parallel ideological extortion that pervades academia and institutions associated with it. Freedom means the latitude to treat Alan Dershowitz like any other jerk with vile politics. It tells us what we need to know about the extent of intellectual freedom that it’s beyond the pale for so many professors and reporters to repay the foultempered immorality of such characters with anything but graciousness and patience. It isn’t mercy or magnanimity to put reactionary shithead lawyers on TV. It’s enabling. It’s collusion.

The assholes could always just grab soapboxes and serve as models of pluck and independence for the young people they rue have turned into whiny, easily offended conformists. They hate the idea. It would be an ego hit. I don’t usually look at my site stats these days. None of these emotionally volatile freaks would be able to resist. None of them can bear to be denied Harvard’s imprimatur, or to be quiet on any platform within their reach about the injury they sustain by being so denied.

*****

The simple explanation for their ill cheer is that they’re courtiers. They’re as bitter and resentful as any other chorus of petty little bitches about being barred from the courts of true power, those stuck kissing noble ass in Avignon for a living always pining for Versailles, where they’ll finally show the world that they’ve arrived.

Bruh, they feed you, right? And of course they do. Courtiers and whatever else they are as well—priests, scholars, jesters, counselors—are fed by the sweat of other brows. It’s one of the draws of the gig. They just have to concoct or perpetuate whatever story it takes to convince the peasants that they shouldn’t have to pitch in on the chores.

What makes these already miserable “conservative” crybabies go from the tragically insatiable to the farcical is their confusion of prestige with power. Sure, maybe critical race theory or whatever on earth is the matter with Larry and the Lady Mathematicians is obnoxious. That doesn’t mean it’s relevant. The people who actually run the Ivies and the United States are happy enough to toss some more feed into the vealpen on demand while those with the real wealth, power, and privilege either do their own whining about how marginalized they are or simply ignore the spectacle.

Our dean of humanities Dr. Summers plays both roles, getting rich and powerful and also splashing around in the mudpit of academic feuds. The litmus test of power, however, is simple. Whoever is getting rich is who matters. That’s the finbros and Tommy Tuberville before it’s anyone maxing out at $30k complaining about representation or free shit from the sponsors to fill out the team.

*****

The more or less reasonable assumption about the applicant pools and student bodies of prestigious universities—the Ivies, the Hidden Ivies, the flagship state schools—is they’re drawn from elite families, ones corresponding at least to the aristocracy or the medieval court clergy. This is intuitive, except it isn’t entirely the case. Harvard wouldn’t make its applicants grovel like peasants if it didn’t regard them as peasants. It esteems a few of them as true nobles; the remainder it regards as mere peasants with disposable assets.

Making these losers do a song and dance is entertainment for profit. It confirms the Good Schools as good schools, ones worth slashing throats and paying fortunes to attend. It reinforces the national and transnational class structures.

Once the higher strata of the peasantry matriculate, their mental health becomes important, because if it decides to go on sabbatical again the kids might do something to make their schools look bad, like drop out. The embarrassment of a high dropout rate comes with a significant loss of tuition and fee revenue, which also makes a school look bad.

There’s no fence bounding the prison. It’s still prison psychiatry.

To quote Zachary Karabell’s awfully unfortunate phrasing, what’s college for? It’s for itself. That’s the thing. It isn’t to prepare students for the professional world or cultivate in them the life of the mind or any of that shit. It’s an expensive crowdsourced matchmaking service, after a fashion, although Grove City is the only college to be honest about this pupose, and hence somewhat coherent. At other colleges the matchmaking role is mostly incidental; the same striving assholes might just as easily meet each other in prep school or grad school or even some yuppie bar in the big city, being yuppies.

The faculties do not govern themselves. Professors can be profoundly disturbed, but one thing they are not inclined to do is elevate the most parasitic flimflammers from among themselves to serve as their chiefs. The quality of administrator drops noticeably from department chair to college president. The central administrators are so much more expensive and so much worse. The principle is that it costs more to get more; quality of personnel demands quantity of funds.

Everything about this is happy horseshit. It’d be cheaper to elevate a sitting professor for a year or two instead of mounting national searches for the best of all candidates, and the candidates would be better. But that’s not the point. The point is to semi-randomly reward suckups for their sycophancy and corruption. Our college presidents couldn’t possibly be pulled from a grab bag of obnoxious, arrogant mediocrities for awards of salaries multiples of what any of the professors they govern earn and also free mansions. Surely they’re intellectuals of great distinction.

The true extent of academic self-government is the department. In some universities it may be an internal academic division, a “college” or “school” or whatever. /Most philosophical Jeffrey and the Jailbait Enjoyers salon voice/ Karabell, I don’t care what it’s for. What’s “college?” Yeah, okay, but wood does dat godda do wit pussy?

It has much to do, of course, just not in coherent or scrutable ways. HQ and the assholes who call their shots—the boards of trustees, the boosters, individual alumni who live to throw their money and weight around—tend not to interfere directly in departmental operations for a number of reasons, all of them better than nothing but none of them reputable. They want their precious schools to look good, and a reputation for sleazy bigshots intruding into departmental affairs is bad. They don’t want tenured faculty getting hostile, and if the vulgarians push the envelope the eggheads most assuredly will. These moneyball shysters are in it to make bank and move bank, not to get berated back off the academic quad by professors who are both avowedly and by consensus more educated, making a scene only to defend the ethical and intellectual high ground.

Besides, the departments have nothing of value to seize in the first place. They’re loss leaders for the big grift. It’s the vealpen again. No need to close the gate; just toss some feed in over the rail. They’ll gladly lie down and chew.

This is why the big cheeses keep the humanities departments around. This is why they don’t pare down the 100-level chemistry courses to excuse the morons who enroll for the distribution requirements and to have the TA’s turn on their Bunsen burners and do their math. They need to pretend that everybody who graduates is educated. Chad Kroeger is educated enough to admit he’s uneducated. That’s too educated.

Okay, he’s singing about high school. Is it the same notorious retard factory in Alberta that it is down here? It’s no pride of th’ American side, to judge from the bitter complaints of its being a volume-discounted version of college with marginally worse academic and occupational results. Nobody who comments on this shit has the intellectual curiosity to go after the deeper, real problems when it’s so easy to whine about low returns on investment. The rest of us get the discourse they deserve.

*****

If college’s intellectual mission is the formation of intellectually curious critical thinkers, a critical thinker would think college graduates would stand out for that, not for being insecure social climbers who get upset whenever somebody disses one of their cults at lunch. If the goal is to produce well-rounded physicians–hold up, because if that’s what we’re doing, we need to start by redesigning medical school.

It must feel too much like vo-tech to think about reclassifying medical training as a strictly professional course of study, such as the law still is in the crustier corners of Vermont. Medicine needs to be a profession of the Renaissance Man (and Woman!), not a grubby trade in which the barber-neurosurgeon is expected to know more about where and how to cut the brain than he does about the classics, butt enough about the Castro, or than she does about walking into her ex-boyfriend’s kitchen and yelling at him while he calls 911 from upstairs because she just woke him up from a nap. Understand, we cannot have the general public accusing The Doctors of exactly the obsessive narrow intelligence that’s drilled into them over the course of their medical training. This would decrease the public’s confidence in, as doctors do not call it but those who seek to marry doctors do, the medical field.

The popular understanding of this shit is all wrong. Everything I publish in these pages is the liberal arts. This right here is the real deal. You can say, well now, it’s nothing but gonzo shitposting, and fine. What I’m saying is still this: Whenever I barf forth another 2,500-12,500 words about Kwesi Millington or whatever the hell to polerize a friend, I’m objectively engaging in the liberal arts. There is no strict professional or technical purpose to this stuff.

There are strict professional and technical purposes to medical education. That’s why we’re all made to pretend that our doctors have to be Jonas Salk and also Marcus Aurelius. Look, I can hardly give my dentist a clear field of view when he starts talking to me about how much he loved “those trees with the pretty bark” (eucalyptus, I determined) on the first trip of his life to California because there was a clinical conference in, like, Altadena. I don’t need him to learn additional topics of conversation; that’s for his personal life, not my already full mouth.

Mind you, I’m just being too smart for school again. I’m not entirely joking, either. One of the purposes of the broad education of medical doctors, and Dr. Puliafito has indeed given a broad or two an education, is to encourage the public to think, patiently, as it were, of polymath brilliance as a proxy for the sharp clinical knowledge and acumen the same doctors may or may not possess.

What the fuck does that have to do with anything? I’m not over here telling Dennis Geyer where to cut, or what to cut, other than out the antics on the bridge, because young man I do not like the sound of that. Do we need or want our surgeons writing crap like that? No. We might wish for them to write post-op notes based on actual reviews of systems, but we can’t have a thing that nice, either. The professional standards are surprisingly mythical. Please insert my usual review of systems.

Medicine is a profession in which Dan Crenshaw’s eyes are equally reactive and dilated. The only way to face consequences for writing notes of that quality is to do so in a practice that maintains its own internal standards. The Mayo Clinic will probably shitcan anyone it catches doing that. The average hospital group? Lol wut, sure. Basically, you can do whatever until you get fired or sued, and if you get into either sort of trouble, you can find somewhere else to work. Drylabbing is okay as long as nobody gets maimed or killed, and the med-surg nurses are there to handle the med part.

My usual, please.

There might be less in the way of funds to slush if the normies start wondering what the fuck doctors know. Out in the streets a lot of Americans are bitter about medical mistakes and the incompetents who make them, but the main point is to overwhelm them by bamboozling nine-to-fives who vote. Dr. Oz is a doctor, you see.

Yeah, no shit. I’ll go to a different cardiac surgeon if I need one because he only practices part-time and the rest of them are somebody else. Does that mean he knows anything about probiotics or superfoods that can’t be learned from a list of ingredients? Does he know anything about exercise that any rando who gets out for a walk doesn’t also know? Of course not. He’s some freak on TV who eats an ounce of raw walnuts for lunch. He’ll be telling me what to eat just as soon as I’ll listen to some performatively folksy dipshit from the Farm Bureau tell me the parish hall coffee in his thermos is good enough for a breakfast at daybreak under the old oak out front of the barn when you’ve got twelve hours of silage to cut. Okay, then, you drink it, you twerp.

That’s the other thing: A whole lot of Heartland Leaders are teachers, not farmers. (I’m leaving the lawyers aside because they’re too numerous to be interesting.) Ben’s Ass—now goodness, can somebody teach me how to spell?—was a college president. Both of his parents were high school teachers. Lyndon Johnson and Chuck Grassley went to normal school. Denny taught in one.

Take that one to the mat. We all wrestle with these things, if we’re so unfortunate. The mere instructor goes to Minnesota for being homosexual; the true rancher goes there to BE homosexual.

The folksy wonders strutting around Washington and its many outposts around the world with their obnoxious method acting projects are eggheads. They’re thousands of times more likely than the average American to have Ivy League pedigrees. So much school, so little refinement. What the hell was the point of sending them? Brett Kavanaugh did not need to enroll to learn about beer.

Are we still to imagine college refines its alumni? Are we still to imagine it has a culturing effect? They matriculate as crass boors, and they graduate as crass boors. As Tom Lehrer might say, it’s a sewer like the rest of life, just costlier.

Rich people love having the merely affluent extrapolate and project their own fussy aesthetics and habits to the very top. They want the upper middle class to imagine that the overclass is not crawling with what Michael O. Church called uncultured barbarians. They want the PMC to continue to take Donald Trump for a poor man’s idea of a rich man, not simply a rich asshole. Between their sheer wealth and their forsaking of the noblesse oblige their ancestors learned the slightly hard way in the Depression, a rich person with coarse tastes today faces few obstacles to acting like Donald Trump. The press earnestly celebrates the vile antics of the rich. We love our celebrities, don’t we, folks. The authorities do little to temper their worst impulses. The matriarchs and patriarchs who were around for the lessons of the Depression in real time are too frail, feebleminded, or dead to meaningfully object. Who was that negro? Why, he was Kofi Annan, Mrs. Astor. Well, now, surely his parents were not foolish enough to name him Coffee.

The hardcore rich do whatever the fuck they please whenever the fuck they please. Sometimes they actually, sincerely try to be reputable and modest. We hear very little from or about these cases. The infamous hard workers among the rich work, or hold acting roles showcasing their own work ethics, almost exclusively to gather and hoard more wealth and power.

During the Great Compression they had to restrain themselves or be restrained. They had to negotiate with unions and submit to regulators. They love their current restoration to the powers of gods on earth. They have always consideed these powers their birthright. It smarted to have their worst wants denied for several decades on account of government intrusion into their affairs and the omnipresent threat of swift mob violence for overreach. They’re gratified to again be given tacit blessings to set quotas in ways forcing their employees to wear adult diapers. They approve of the prerogative Donald Trump used on television to ritually humiliate “apprentices” by breathing the words of ruin upon them like Zeus. They consider this a good model for the economy and for their own lives.

Yes, this includes #resist #WithHer #NeverTrump scolds. As always, it’s about substance, not style.

*****

As we mentioned above, medicine is a grubby, tiring way to try to make a fortune, and one requiring high intelligence. Some families are practically medical castes of their own. There are, for example, many Drs. Gupta. Judy Dench once got the sads on As Time Goes By and had to see a Mr. Percival, a Norman French cunt. To judge from the compensation packages, American doctors push their children High French and Original Brahmin children into medicine for the money. Prestige is the other obvious factor.

To be quite blunt, medical doctors and their class peers do not have a 70% or 90% lock or however much of it is they hog on young adult children capable of completing medical training and serving capably as doctors. Come on. Too many of their kids are too dull or soft or, inflammatory though it is to admit this away from the academic vealpen, traumatized to get through medical school and a residency the way these programs are run.

In the USA today (lol), these rounds of hazing are all too clearly a series of forced marches into a crooked, cruel system that doesn’t work. On an alarming number of floors, it’s acceptable for doctoring to fall somewhere between an acting gig and cosplay. The Village People were not in fact a cop and a logger and whatever. A medical license is worth its printstock as evidence of fitness for a physician who drops acid to make rounds “fun” or a surgeon who scrubs in too drunk to maintain normal gross motor function when he gropes his scrubs nurse with a breast pocket full of sharps.

It’s hard to imagine the quality of available medical staff not plummeting as word gets out about incidents of that nature. It’s more than a few assholes; it’s all the enablers among their colleagues turning a blind eye to flagrant unfitness for duty that could get patients killed, plus the openly homicidal executives and shareholders, plus the ethical impunity for consorting with cheerleader bimbos hawking the latest patent medicines on the junket circuit.

The prevailing ethics and standards of care in American medicine today are, if anything, higher than they should be given how notoriously riddled it is with profiteers, quacks, drylabbers, and other trash who have no business anywhere near it. It’s a powerful strange attractor for bad actors that is incidentally also a powerful strange attractor for good actors.

Where’s the tipping point? I think we’re right around it, but I couldn’t say for sure which side. Ask Malcolm Gladwell. Are Nickelback the dumbest Canadians? They sing popular songs about life, death, relationships found and lost and maybe found again, the sociology of small towns, luck good and bad, high school, sex in the shower, and the criminal justice system. Gladwell is famous for writing about how if you play a lot of hockey, there’s a good chance you’ll get good at hockey.

By God my stories about how if you spend 1,000 hours learning about horses at a government sleepaway school you’ll have no idea how to calm down a Pollack are better than that.

*****

The answers are so straightforward and yet so daunting. Train more doctors instead of whatever the hell we’re doing to miseducate our smart people instead. Nationalize the big pharmacorps, which profiteer on government research all the time as it is. Investigate the shit out of anyone trying to trade dinners and swag and a little something-something under my blouse for prescription sales, on both sides of the agreement; that setup is a way for our already quite well-compensated physicians and surgeons to charge their hookers to company expense accounts. Break up the for-profit hospital groups. Yank their nonprofit status on grounds of fraud. Establish more and better government clinics.

Medicare for All or Medicaid for All or Tricare for All would be a good adjunct.

Or an army of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed idealists could try to join it and reform it from the inside. It’s admirable, until it turns into a sellout fiasco like Teach for America or the law for most anybody. It’s the usual shit about systems and their inertia and peer pressure from colleagues and the kids’ classmates and all the rest of it. It’s a fucking mess, rather like the mainstream culture of this decadent, decrepit land.

Besides, you won’t need to call Toni Morrison to babysit your toddler while you become a neurosurgeon. There aren’t any openings. Help is not wanted.

God help us if they ever force Carol off the media

Dammit, Douglas, you incorrigible Maritime heartthrob, I may sound too hypomanic not to get Hortons on mane, but this time the pride is again th’ American Side’s, as it happens. Radio so bad, Big Ears Teddy will turn himself back around and refuse not to “bear” witness.

Have I used that one before? It’s about time in any event. The big news this time for us public radio trainspotters, as Colby Cosh calls us, pertains to On The Media, a program on the media. They sure as hell weren’t gonna call it On The Bala Cynwyd, am I right, Garf. #ThatWasBad #DudeItsRude. It turns out that that urbane Main Line dean of reporters was a toxic asshole who liked to throw bullying tantrums around the office and failing to abide by HR’s demands that he behave himself. Justice in his case was not particularly swift, but it was dramatic. Bob’s permanently away this week. I’m Brooke, and I’m glad about it.

That was also bad. It shouldn’t be a terrible surprise to hear that Garfield’s personality fell short of his persona. These are actors. If you find Buddha on the road, kill him. If you find Michael State on Facebook, repost parish hall normcore. My ex thinks he sounds like a slut and Beth Huizenga is out of her goddamn mind.

Whatever. As much as they’re anything, they’re entertainers. We invite them into our homes and cars and workout headsets and mind. We fancy them friends, buddy. Good guys. They work in a dynamic business, working urgently to balance the unbalanced on the fly on strict deadlines. It should be no surprise that more than a few of them are unbalanced themselves. They’re theater kids.

Excuse me: theatre kids.

The worst of these actors take advantage of the high pressure, high stakes, and tight deadlines to justify behaving however the hell they want. In Jian Ghomeshi’s case, this meant not just choking women but berating his production staff to pull everything together while he went incommunicado on deadline because he was having a mood. It’s a miracle Q was ever ready by airtime.

You have to have thick skin to hack it in the business. Jian Ghomeshi has exceptionally thin skin. What they really mean is you have to have thick skin to work around Jian Ghomeshi. Honestly, I sometimes wonder if he’s even happy with himself, no matter how inexcusable it was for him to take his disappointments and upsets out on staff and threaten to get colleagues blacklisted for saying anything bad about him, e.g., his renown for choking a bitch.

Radio is no place for a sensitive little crybaby, the Bob Garfields of the world like to say. They say the same thing about running a restaurant, working in an operating room, and every sleazy sort of sales work. Complaints about political correctness and oversensitivity consistently come from or on behalf of the most hypersensitive, emotionally incontinent outburst artists in whatever business is under discussion.

It’s always about maintaining the existing power dynamics. First they came for Bob Garfield, and I said nothing, because Bob Garfield had contractual employment protections and guild representation the likes of which I never expect to enjoy. An ordinary line employee would be fired on the spot for pulling that shit, assuredly so for doing anything of the sort to a supervisor. It’s only certain people who enjoy the latitude to throw bullying fits around the office. To WNYC’s credit, it lost its patience with Garfield for persisting in screaming at colleagues and subordinates over editorial differences and has previously released hosts as prominent as John Hockenberry for being sex pests. To its discredit, it seems to have quite a few problem personalities. As we say online, you truly hate to see Tanzina Vega on the HR list.

Living vicarious professional lives through the personnel disputes of media bigshots is pathetic. They’re nothing like us. Theirs is a different, separate, alien world. Lead characters in all media are infamously prone to be divas. This doesn’t make their behavior acceptable. If Bob Garfield’s behavior was as chronically problematic as WNYC’s outside auditor found, he needed some time away from the studio to chill the hell out. Terminating him outright was a reasonable decision when he’d already been formally warned to keep his temper in check.

“Cancel culture” is a red herring. The much bigger threat to the occupational viability of ordinary Americans is the combination of merciless at-will employment; intrusive, abusive employers; and the strategic absence of government job guarantees or even the faintest glimmer of full employment policies. It isn’t Bob Garfield getting shitcanned for having an unacceptable anger management problem at work and having to go on Twitter and Substack to complain about it, still a public citizen. It isn’t Don Imus getting axed not to talk about “nappy-headed hoes,” or rather, for talking about “nappy-headed hoes.”

It was some kind of foul feelings towards a team of lady ballers, I recall. To paraphrase the Ghetto-Ass Bitches of 103rd Street, their hair always gone BE nappy. The people who make the hiring and firing decisions in these cases don’t spend much time on the Blue Line, but that’s beside the point. Imus upset and scandalized the advertisers. He knew he was pushing the envelope by being racially edgy on air. They heard that tirade and decided they’d had enough.

Some of these characters are Greekly tragic. Garfield sounds more like a garden-variety bully who elected to dispense with self-control around the office, a man with an awful temperament but a sincere love of journalism and interest in its cultural context. Rush Limbaugh was something else entirely, a bitter old man who had every creature comfort and still bitterly fumed about random strangers being cheats or freeloaders or loafers because the bitterness and the fuming made him ever richer and more popular. As a young man, Rush wanted to do baseball radio; he was passionate about it and impressed people with his encyclopedic knowledge of it. The problem with this career is that it would have left him doing the yeoman’s work for yeoman’s pay in some local or regional market. The money was in being an angry reactionary who always sounded and looked ready to drop dead of a heart attack.

Wow Much rosebud Such sad. I can’t imagine having a platform of that topical latitude and not using it to reach out to loved ones I’ve lost and miss, to say good things about them in terms vague but recognizable to them and the real heads who know them, much as I sometimes do here with an audience of several of you, give or entirely take. I’m still dealing with a fresh breakup, but I might still be hella emo about this shit in more placid, less troubling personal times, with a somewhat more normal emotional and spiritual life. I truly don’t get why people like Limbaugh don’t pivot back to baseball once they’ve gotten some fuck-you money, just open up a free-for-all call-in about the Cardinals or whatever because the audience is already there and will gladly follow them to other platforms in the event of programming disputes.

Commercial radio is a collection of cesspools different from NPR’s. The lowest common denominators Rush Limbaugh exploited included the desire to rape. Guys who would have tested the waters more carefully in their local bars found, if we may, a safe space on his show and other syndicated garbage heaps of that sort to fume about how women were asking for it. Most of the commentary was sublimated enough to keep the advertisers from flipping their shit, but it was about rape. Imus’s comment about the basketball team touched on the ugly, arguably epigenetic American history of racialized rape, maybe only subconsciously, but it was a real factor.

Their target demographic is the same one that expresses its disgruntlement that the broads these days need to lighten up, toughen up, and just deal with a little light touch and talk around the office. The reasons to try to do better than that are obvious and compelling, and they aren’t all liberal in nature, either. In some sense or other, they’re all fundamentally conservative; the point is to try to set and hold a working sexual ethic that keeps the dumbest, worst elements in the workplace from using it to distract all and distress many by being uncontrollably horny all the time. As I’ve said before, Hillz is the conservative on this shit and the Donald the liberal. America is still not ready to have this conversation, but nevertheless, she persisted–in this analogy, I’m not with her, but personally her–to #GetTalking.

*George Nori Voice* Dominic, from Windsor, California, on the Wildcard Line. Go ahead.

The aliens consented.

They consented to what?

The aliens all consented.

Are you saying you consented to their sexual advances?

They consented.

[Sagest Dril Voice] Butt they care not,, too “Fap Only.” *Seinfeld electronica scene break*

Am I right fellas, etc., all that. That’s a big swath of who listens to that garbage, and a bigger chunk of the disposable income the advertisers covet: winery scions who can damn well afford to hire hookers but instead go into politics to rape their fellow elected officials. More than a few listeners are the doers of Denny Dundiddy deals; as fewer point out than care to hear, the loudest on any given seedy or perverted thing having to do with sex tend to be the worst about it themselves.

But now goodness, Sgt. Karsnia, I thought the acoustics in that restroom were just fine!

Yeah, I’m flying, too, on the night shift (on the night shift). Seriously, though, this combination of sexual repression and abuse is a significant reason why so many people are reluctant to engage in the workforce. Expanded to include other forms of abuse intersecting with sexual abuse, it’s a main reason. Decades of unrelenting propaganda about how it’s good to be abused at work–The Office, The Apprentice, Uber as hustle culture–have somewhat backfired. Work? Ah, yeah, work, that’s where you go to get annoyed by morons and treated like shit by assholes for poverty wages and then fired for displeasing one of them.

The whole edifice is shakier than it’s made out to be. Office normcore as a dipshit cover for abusive scheduling practices may be stable. Offfice normcore as a cover for sexual harassment of subordinates is metastable at most. That’s the kind of shit that has male loved ones cleaning their guns. The academic and affluent nature of activism against campus rape pisses off Walt Kowalski wannabes who call in to talk shows to bitch about how everybody’s so goddamn soft these days. It’s much less objectionable to people in the same towns–conservative, liberal, left, whatever–who are sick of getting groped by scumbag customers and shift managers at Applebee’s for a summarily recovable pittance, or who are furious that their sisters, wives, or daughters are being mistreated in that fashion. Company men were allowed to abuse longshormen’s daughters as a hiring condition until they weren’t. It had to do with their discovery that getting beaten to shit for trying to have their way was a credible promise, not an idle threat.

Bob Garfield ain’t got shit on that crew. He’d be on the mild side among franchisee sex pests. The Grey Lady accuses him of using “a barnyard epithet.” I’m not exactly fascinated, but bullshit, I guess? He’s mainly nursing a bruised ego from getting canned from a job where he sounded rather miserable anyway. It’s a useful object lesson in not being able to get away with that shit just for being prominent and playing the urbane WASP Jew on the radio. I didn’t even give a shit when I discovered he’s actually a Jew. He’s not exactly fun like Psychotarp or Pot-o-Shit Friend or Steph, in case the first two are having trouble with their sisters. #TooSoon. All he did was clean up from his disinhibited fits and emo moping in time to do the gentleman-scholar thing on NPR every week, or more recently every two or three weeks, depending on when Brooke Gladstone was hosting in his stead, stoically but now audibly quite the frosty Jewess herself.

Jewish conspiracy? I know, enough about NPR, but those two could barely conspire to put out a fucking radio show. As the old Brooklyn proverb warns, Christ, Mort, are you enough of a putz to believe a pile of crap like that?

As much as it must sting to be fired, Garfield picked a good country for his termination. He might be shocked to discover what happens to the easily upset when they get agitated in Canada under the name of Robert.

Protest peacefully! Express your frustration, but please not your anger! Wear your masks! Get a permit! Be home by bedtime! Stay off the freeway!

Minnesota is getting riot season going early this year, huh. No, ja, Pekka, don’tcha know, da colored folks aren’t too happy abaout naouw. And ya thought da ethnic trouble was bad enough between your kind and the high-class krauts!

Gee, one wonders why. The same secondary megalopolis where a beat cop is on trial for murdering a black man over a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill just had another beat cop shoot another black man to death because he was driving on an expired car registration with an air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror and an active arrest warrant. The police woman in the latest case mistakenly drew her taser, according to her chief. Did any of them learn anything from Johannes Mehserle? If so, what?

The authorities didn’t give their dispensation and blessing for the Black Lives Matter protests last year just to gaslight their constituents. It was whatthefuckular, for sure, having mayors and governors and health officials give their constituents an extraordinary hall pass in the thick of nearly universal orders to shelter in place, but for real, that’s what they always fucking do. The only difference that time was the ongoing outbreak of a virulent respiratory contagion. The provenance of and official reactions to the Dread Ailment have been questionable, to say the least, but most reasonable Americans knew better to taxi the nightclub circuit mutually freebreathing on total strangers all night under the circumstances.

This raises a question: Is there a difference between mixing unmasked with strangers indoors in a probably futile effort to bone one of them and mixing outdoors, mostly masked, in street demonstrations pushing back on the police for asserting their prerogative to strangle citizens to death at will? Geez, Ole, I know some a ya are priddy dense, but da ya fucken think?

The civil authorities knew they had an uprising on their hands. Dr. King’s beloved white moderates love to blame the upset on people staying home, being out of work, and watching too much TV, which, goodness, I can’t imagine there were any official incentives or demands or ubiquitous fnords encouraging such idleness, and it’s conceivable that unusual, unexpected free time makes it easier for the public to follow national news of, say, two Buffalo riot cops cracking an old activist’s skull open in front of local news crews for calmly walking up to their formation with a peace offering and the entire riot squad resigning when their colleagues faced criticism and minimal professional discipline for committing an aggravated battery that National Guardsmen in formation behind them narrowly prevented from turning into voluntary manslaughter by being the first ones with the decency to provide first aid and call an ambulance. Maybe these are policing practices that ought to have captured closer attention from more Americans in their earlier, sometimes less violent manifestations, back when we theoretically all had work. Yes: Buffalo riot police did nearly murder an old man for approaching them in a spirit of serenity and peace; yes, the Denver Police did shoot out a man’s eye in an attack that was either the result of terrible trigger discipline with riot control weapons or, all too likely, a reprisal attack on a random civilian for breaking a curfew on his way back from work; yes, Salt Lake City cops did shove a barely ambulatory old man to the ground for being in their way on the periphery of a protest; yes, the security services brutalized Christopher David when he calmly approached them to ask them if they gave a damn about their oaths of office; yes, riot police in Walnut Creek and San Diego made explicit murder threats over loudspeakers; yes, a Houston cop deliberately trampled a woman with his horse; yes, Pennsylvania State Police kettled and pepper-sprayed protesters on an embankment for briefly occupying the Vine Street Expressway, in the same city where Joey Baloney beat the shit out of protesters just because he was pissed off and felt like serving America a spicy wooder ice.

It was truly the Spirit of 76, American cops going hardcore Redcoat on their own constituents for challenging their samurai privilege to whack anyone who disobeys their arbitrary, contradictory orders, gives them mouth, or in any other petty way displeases them. It’s hard to believe, for example, that Bill DeBlasio has the NYPD under his civilian control. Likewise Lori Lightfoot, Ted Wheeler, and possibly the grandiose, Ceausescuan Eric Garcetti, although that sociopathic creep looks like he quite enjoys the classic folkways of the LAPD.

The United States turned out to be full of derelict, plausibly blackmailed or threatened with assassination, who would not or could not control their own cops. The whole country was suddenly suffering from a bad case of pigs mad.

As always, these shitheads did their thing. They tried to coopt the protests. They, those elected to answer petitions from the public, told the public how to petition. We admire your passion. We welcome your peaceful protests. We want you to make your voices heard. No, you are not allowed to riot. No, you are not allowed to loot. No, you are not allowed to be on the streets after dark. It’s bedtime, serf. Return to quarters at once.

That’s why they expressed their approval of protests. That’s why they declared protests an essential activity. They wanted to assemble a controlled opposition to divert and diffuse the public’s raw leverage: same shit as ever, just this time with a respiratory pandemic on the loose, as constantly reiterated through lecture series, human interest trend pieces, and fnordforce deployments.

What these morons figured was that if the protesters validated their permission to assemble for the narrow purpose of telling them to control their goddamn cops, they’d be in for a penny, in for a pound in the face of their every other overbearing diktat. That’s what they expect their constituents to do in the midst of escalating stochastic police attacks. They expect scared, angry constituents to subordinate their own anger to the feelings of Jacob Frey.

Yeah, that’ll fucking happen. “We know you’re scaed and upset–” Yeah, no shit, boss. You gonna do something about it, or do we have to shut down the freeways? Oh, YOU’RE the one who’s deciding to barricade freeway exits, raise the drawbridges, and retreat into your home behind multiple lines of riot cops, like a mad queen? Get fucked, bitch.

“Rioting and looting won’t accomplish anything. Please, express your anger, but–” Oh. Is that so? It immediately gets officials’ panties into a twist. It makes them visibly uncomfortable. It throws them off balance. Is that nothing?

Huh. Maybe these horny-for-rules scolds and the paranoid propertied constituents they always prioritize over anyone vulnerable don’t want to face genuine, credible pressure from their inferiors. Maybe they don’t like actual leverage from below. It sure seems like they get hella squirmy whenever they’re cornered. They sure seem to hear but not listen. It’s the same problem their cops have with private citizens. It’s exactly the objection the same elected officials have to direct actions that violate their instructions. Oh no, they strayed off the parade route!

The peasants are coloring outside the lines. Ousside, but such a long wait for the government cash. How bow dah. Let’s give the LAPD three billion this year, though.

We’re all bad babies indeed. We’re so insolent. They tell us how to express our feelings, and we insist on expressing them as we see fit. We just won’t listen. The subject can have a little peaceful protest, as a treat, but just a little.

It’s striking. Officials who never do shit to bring grocery stores into food deserts or public services in general into the ghettos suddenly go on edge whenever a mob smashes the windows at the Speeday, overturns the hot dog rollers, and for some reason leaves most of the pastries in place–in fairness, Kajieme Powell didn’t much care for them, either, it seems–because a cop just murdered one of their neighbors during a traffic stop and the chief described it as a tragic accident. Our upset public officials, the same ones who refuse to disciplne their police forces and instead deploy them like occupying armies whenever there’s an outburst of unrest over an act of violence on the part of their colleagues, insist that rioting and looting, the same direct actions that so palpably unnerve them, are senseless and useless.

As Melissa Ann Shepard always said, oh, come on, sweetie, you don’t have to step out on me and get your coffee in the breakfast line when I’ve already made us a pot. They don’t actually want us petitioning for the redress of our grievances. They don’t want their constituents getting so uppity. It’s inconvenient. It’s disruptive. If it doesn’t stop, it will force them to do something about their rotten, violent, seditious cops. Their sermons about the proper, effective way to protest are a pile of bullshit, and by now the people they claim to represent know it.

*Most civic Roger Schafer midnight munchies voice* I didn’t do shit to the Speedway! I was cutting food costs!

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 December to Remember, if we’re still around to remember it

There is no refined or delicate way to put this. Americans will get killed for reporting or trying to break up Christmas and New Year parties this month. 

It’s a recklessly nasty thing to do in the best of times. This year, it’s a death wish. We’ve been through so much this year. We’ve been asked, nagged, begged, screamed at, and ordered to make sacrifice after sacrifice while officials flout the rules the same week they promulgate them and our medical system melts down across the board. We’re pitted against each other, the genuinely sickened and frightened in league with resentful health nuts against those who insist on continuing to live their lives while they still have lives to live. It’s a barrel full of crabs, the ambitious clawing back at the resentful for clawing them back from their bolt for freedom. It’s Shawshank Redemption for hectoring stool pigeon trustees who send terrorized blockmates to the canteen to do their shopping. 

Bent but traceable through lines run back from this discord, through the English Civil War to the DIY Puritan Transportation and the Norfolk Company, and back from there, if more fuzzily, to Medieval peasant revolts. Wat Tyler’s ghost beholds our antics and smirks. It’s an old feud. No matter our modern technological innovations and postmodern decadence, we embrace tradition. 

It can be confusing. It can feel incoherent. The shrieking about how it’s an unscionable infringement of inalienable godgiven brithight liberty to have to put on a mask to go into Whole Foods during a respiratory pandemic currently coinciding with flu season comes overwhelmingly from a batshit crazy combination of establishmentarian zealots who want the government to dictate strangers’ sex lives and generally secular property owners who want the police to beat their homeless neighbors to death in the interest of neighborhood “character” (real estate values). Both off these coalition partners skew affluent. 

Watching the American Revolution from the Motherland, Samuel Johnson asked, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?” Gee. That sounds oddly familiar. It’s the same question. Can you believe it, Rodriguez? Fly all the way to Johanesburg and you still can’t get away from it. 

Thomas Jefferson proclaimed a rather different agrarian ideal for his constituents from the one he lived as a planter in Monticello. That’s a deal where a rich guy has whip-wielding thugs force other people to do the planting. It should go without saying, but surprisingly few Americans are aware of these small details, on which not only lawyers but soldiers and armory raiders dwell. As upcountry praxis, rather than Piedmont ideal, Jeffersonian agrarian virtue spread across the new country, over mountainous swathes too broken, remote and nonarable for largeholders to bother infesting for conversion into estates, then over the prairies under the Homestead Act, which was basically Honest Abe and the crew telling the vulgarians of the industrial trusts to restrain themselves and be grateful to monopolize minerals, metallurgy, and the railroads. Only in some instances did this model degenerate into Jacksonian coarseness.

Still, Tocqueville made America, the whole of it, sound like one huge sprawling village of the insufferably smug. Government services were meager to nonexistent; taxes, less so. But what else should we have expected of a federal government whose first CEO personally led a cavalry raiding party overland across Pennsylvania for the sole purpose of shaking down frontier crackers for excise taxes on homemade hard liquor? “We haven’t the funds to pay our war debts.” Shit, George, with that spread you’ve got down by the river, maybe it’s because you have the money. The immediate civic upshot of this thievery, in the decades before the granges universally came to the conviction that the railroads were somehow a worse racket than the Erie Canal even though there were so many more of them and they operated all year in almost all weather, was the consensus that neighbors were responsible for neighbors, every man his brother’s keeper, but in ways requiring countless formally chartered voluntary organizations, and somehow yet allowing deep poverty to fester throughout the land in spite of whatever the hell these organizations and their ostentatiously busy members thought they were doing.

Kinda cucked.

As Lincoln rued would be excruciating but morally necessary and inevitable, the blood drawn by the slavedriver’s lash was repaid with the bullet and the bayonet, in pastures and wheatfields and forests and (I’m always driving up Pryor Road like an incorrigible wanker to look at the trees on my way to the perimeter of Camp David for more fucking trees) peach orchards where, in our decadent postmodern times, a tourist might quietly whistle Ashokan Farewell on a leisurely midday stroll, think sucked to be here back then lol, and drive over to the General Pickett Buffet. I probably still have the punchcard for the chef’s dozen somewhere.

By the way, that place sucked ass. So did employment in the Catoctin Furnaces. The ironmasters in Cornwall looked down on their grunts for being filthy peasants. The sun came out once a year, when they cleaned the furnaces. Everybody went blind for the week. Down the hill, the construction of the Union Canal was notoriously micksploitative. The same crowd drove the 1863 draft riots in New York. Fiddle dee fuggen dee, m’love; oil beef hooked to doy fur some bloody Yankee race shite, Huizenga.

Break out the lonesome fiddle, Kenneth. Ply me a poignant tune on me telly.

Really, the Yankee Puritans lost the plot the day they left Appomattox. Lincoln was a railroad lawyer before he was an uncomfortable but resolute wartime president. His son Robert became a railroad lawyer, railroad executive, and golfer. Yankee and Rebel junior officers preemptively made nice with each other over graduation week, in unctuous farewell letters cluttering college archives. Sometimes I wonder whether they let in the coeds soon enough or too soon; one would hope for a moderating influence on the boys, a let’s fuck the parietal rules and fuck each other kind of deal, but they were exactly the shitty high-middlebrow Victorian broads who always married the overwrought messy he-bitches of the age.

Reconstruction failed. The old Union turned ever more into a Hamiltonian industrial dystopia. Jeffersonian virtue retreated into the deeper hills of West Virginia, of all incredible places. eventually taking a stand against the railroad and mining trusts, their backs pushed to the wall, pushing through now their only way out. Their descendants still do railroad sit-ins, or more accurately sit-ons, with whatever outside allies wish to join them, and you love to see it, or maybe you don’t so much if you voted Bye, Don.

As we noted near the start, this shit gets incoherent and confused. We don’t discuss this all too recent unpleasantness, but Po Whitey hated his masters passionately enough to take up arms with black slaves as One Community Under Bacon and later joined integrated trade unions in the Jim Crow South which we absolutely do not mention. Shanda fur die Yankim. Hush, child. George Wallace addressed black lawyers as Mister in his court and raised black teachers’ salaries in tandem with whites’. Bitterly racist downhome Cajuns? “We like Uncle Bernie!” It isn’t something the Jews say much in Greenwich. Funny, that. Is this some kind of money thing? Is this some communist class warfare?

It’s Russia, Rachel. The crackers and the honkies and the hunkies and how the hell did the Nigerians in Atlanta start voting for this shit over You Ain’t Black are all in it for the gold-plated Kim Philby treason, not the trade and industrial policy, which was never anything an Atlanta cardiologist ever wanted, so maybe the Nigerians really are trying to become white (they’re already White), although with the all the micks and wops on the force in New York City it’s a miracle there’s a soul left in Nassau County who isn’t colored.

Gimme a break; for once I’m just listening to NPR While I Poast,, not chronicling it. Fucking gimme one, Stossel.

*****

I don’t know what I was trying to say, other than what I just said. If Monty Robinson’s mutual cousin with Todd Palin bore Kwesi Millington a bastard, that would be the wrong kind of Afro-Indian for the vice presidency, and God have mercy on me for writing about shit I heard about the worst possible Canadians on NPR again. No, I don’t mean the Mounties, and I don’t mean Sweet Melissa bringing me coffee in deathbed, either; that I learn by reading. Is Fundamental. It is to study.

Come to think of it, if any of us can figure out why I did, the Palins are worth another quick review. The village idiot knocked up a union oilpatch tradesman’s kid, but Grandma was America’s Milf Governor, and none of it sat well with equally affluent families whose median ages were floating into the fifties while their babies pushed thirty, these precious brats all in graduate school under whatever duress it took to keep them on the straight and narrow path. Why couldn’t that stupid slut get an abortion? For crying out loud she was still eligible for dependent’s benefits under Obamacare when she did it again! A brat in elementary school, a second at the breast, nobody to keep her out of trouble when she got into trouble except for however many dozens of siblings and cousins who’d been changing diapers since they were ten and fighting over who got to hold the latest baby since they were five and could probably borrow airfare from the community chest if it came to it and would definitely be game to do some babysitting in Phoenix instead of the Mat-Su Valley for a change, and only a judgmental asshole from the Salvation Army or the Republican Caucus Sarah always helped the Democrats sandbag, or maybe Walt Monegan because he’s still upset about having to let what’s-his-name the alkie Trooper be Safety Bear, would care that you’re trading food stamps for a ticket to Sky Harbor and Xanny for the flight Outside, if you can cash me dare, Rollins, because there’s no shame in taking a trip to give your fiftieth cousin a break from your sixtieth and seventieth; but I mean, Jesus Christ, who the hell let the mother of such a woman run for the vice presidency when there are so many qualified professionals like Kamala Harris, girlbosses who stayed in school.

This is subsidiarity. No, not that fucking Canuck bitch; Sweet Melissa would at least have the domestic graciousness to bring me coffee in deathbed, and I should hope we would flee for protection to better death penalty abolitionists than that goddamned Anglo-Quebecker when we have Nob Hill Dreamboat holding the dual offices of the governorship and Napa Valley Job Creator Customer in Chief. Gavin said it himself, in a Gabbin: We’re decisions, not conditions. I’d certainly like to imagine we are, but Kamala’s are terrible because she’s been living in a bad one her whole career.

Against the odds, which the goods famously are in Klondike Country–it took me just as forever to find a California girl to tell me “Buddy you aren’t my boyfriend,” but the produce is better AND cheaper, and the drive over to her doublewide isn’t on roads covered in snow, drunks, and moose–I know where I’m headed, even though I’m taking my thots for another walk. It’s an Amtrak conductor who told a group of us, “The fifteen-year-old and the sixteen-year-old fight over who gets to hold the baby. It’s great.” He meant it. He spoke with 100% Napoleonic sincerity.

Yes, I’m aware that it’s usually Republican shitbaggers leading the charge to defund publicly chartered common carriers and cast the dedicated, competent workers running them out into gig app destitution or whatever the hell else they can find for themselves, but once again, that wasn’t Sarah Palin’s scene as governor. In rough terms, she was a center-right mayor, a center-left governor, a politically unclassifiable candidate for the vice presidency–hockey mom subsidiarity, Howard Jarvis-ass whining about taxes because it’s expensive to be a hockey mom, Northern Exposure Annie Get Your Gun shtick, walk-the-talk pro-life grandstanding mashed up with the usual persecution complex grievances-, and most recently a mostly hard-right cable television personality.

Whatever all she is, You Betcha is a vigorous free thinker. She’s a freer thinker than Mocha Haole. So is our thicc moist boi, the Oaf of Office. This is where we must unfortunately look again at liberlism and what fresh horrors have become of it. We can be confident that it is wack, not good, but what is it all about? Wot is ANY of that all about? To judge from recent commentary, it’s largely about what we’ve just as erroneously taken to calling conservatism. John Bolton and George W. Bush are statesmen of great character now. It’s because they don’t yell. John Bolton has always been notoriously abrasive and foultempered, but he only yells about, like, how he has perfect policy and everybody else’s is trash, not how Anna Wintour is lame or Pete Buttigieg is an Alfred E. Newman tryhard.

The Democratic rank and file need to vote for Joe Biden because a growing list of Republican grandees say they’re voting for Joe Biden. We need a Democrat to take back the White House. Huh? Why doesn’t that mean that Biden is the Republican candidate? The most bloodthirsty Beltway demons are upset with Trump for challenging core Republican policies and then getting distracted again: grasping junior lanyards, chiefs and deputy chiefs from all the spook nests, House Voice creeps on NPR, Taylorist armchair generals who tell actual generals to shut up about how they need workable plans for rear-echelon operations to win foreign wars. Trump wins entire states with margins of victory totaling fractions of his share of antiwar registered Democrats who would gladly vote for Bernie Sanders, too.

We’re rubes for questioning this Alice-in-Wonderland freak show. It’s now normative to insist that Vladimir Putin, who has little to say about domestic affairs in the United States and not a huge amount to say about US foreign policy, is orchestrating wholesale mind control of the American people out of a few cube farms full of junior intelligence operatives doing chatroom and comment thread work in English (after a fashion) all day, in contrast to the horde of ever more aggressive US intelligence operatives and assets who openly, forwardly tell private citizens what to believe but would never, ever try to brainwash anybody by catfishing as everyday housewives concerned about the direction the country is headed.

The Bircher wackjobs pushing this nonsense are, among other things, the same class of scolds who clutch their pearls at the trashy, low-class dysfunction of the Palin clan, often while enjoying their expensive upper-downer regimens much less than the Palins enjoy their grab bags of whatever they thought looked good at the liquor store on their way to pick up their latest pick-me-up from Levi’s one buddy who just finished another shake-and-bake home batch. “Oh, but you’ll get into trouble with drugs. You’ll have trouble focusing at school and work.” Fair points, but I never see Sutter Home trying to produce LESS Chardonnay.

“Drug use will keep you from getting into a good school and landing a good job.” Ah, it’s great to be back on the bullshit again. You mean low class. Everything the Brahmins ridicule about the Palins is something they look down on as low-class: starting a big family young; teen pregnancy; carrying a teen pregnancy to term; conceiving and bearing children out of wedlock; police calls over domestic disputes; middling educational attainment, always miscategorized as low as possible to imply idiocy and unemployability; clumsy, explicit nepotism, as opposed to the smooth, implicit kind, which Rod Blagojevich also neglected; an interest in state fairs; police employment; DUI; Beef with the Chief because he refused to give one’s drunk-driving in-law trooper a prized costumed PR post at the State Fair; unionized trade work; snowmobiles; pickup trucks; low-key statehouse bipartisanship; unabashedly having fun at politics; open, rambunctious religiosity; enthusiastic free-association riffs on Mama Grizzly and the Sourdoughs as political oratory.

A number of these things are statitically class-neutral or upper-middle-class. It doesn’t matter; we’re journeying through Wonderland, and it ain’t the one where the Blue Line ends. On second thot, that sounds like it might be misconstrued. Specifically, we aren’t at the one where we’ll be forced to get Charlie off. #CHAHLEE!

There’s a very deep, very broad resentment at play here. Brahmins resent the Palins for freely, boldly living their lives, and especially for suffering no discernible socioeconomic consequences. Those who stray are to be punished. It is their cosmic destiny. Don’t even dare say it’s a result of bad public policy. The policy we have is the only policy we can have.

These objections are the same ones that got Colonial authorities upset about settlers running away to live with Indians. I don’t mean this racially; the same people would have exactly the same ugly reaction to the Palins if they were undeniably white. They and their below-average children are a rebuke of us and a threat to our above-average children. Their refusal to miserably jump through hoops all their lives negates OUR dutiful payment of OUR dues.

“Liberals” would be less upset with them if they were blatant three-sigma fuckups. They’d have no problem with the Palins if they had a life expectancy of 35 and a lifestyle of cycling between the drunk tank and a home life of eating instant noodles for dinner under a sheet of plywood in an unheated ditch. This is about the degree of concern they show for the homeless in general.

What rankles them is that the Palins are a reasonably normal and well-adjusted family who showed up on the national stage affluent, uneducated (they expect law degrees), and expecting their first grandchild in their forties. The discovery that the voting public can pass credentialed, polished candidates over for promotion in favor of a loud, proudly uncredentialed and unconventional woman with a blue-collar husband and a happily pregnant minor daughter scared them. It still does. It reminds them that their own bosses will hurl them to the curb like so much trash if they step out of line, or even if they just lose the superhuman energy so many of them need to meet their quotas.

They hate being upstaged and outranked by a family of breeders whose heads of household at the time they became famous were a non-civil service salaried public employee and a trade unionist. It makes their beloved Democratic Party look like it doesn’t care about unions or their members, and it in fact is an aggressive unionbusting organization. This is not a circle they wish to square for skeptical voters.

When they say that Barack Obama is smarter or more eloquent (no, Joe, not articulate!) than Sarah Palin, what they mean is that he’s more urbane and makes more of a show of being educated. It’s like if I wrote in Cory Lerios for president because I prefer Pablo Cruise deep cuts to Justin Bieber. What he actually says is routinely as vacuous as it comes, or cunningly evil, or both and more: the Flint water supply is fine because he “drank” it (took a tiny sip from a glass whose source was and is untraceable), there’s no reason for NBA players not to go back to work, “we tortured some folks”–he actually said that, verbatim, in public–, I had to drone them, but I did it all cool and conflicted and Eichmann-like.

Obama is heinous. Palin runs hot and cold, unmodulated, rather like Trump. As I keep saying, here and everywhere else I think to mention it, this is the safe style of politics. It’s truth in advertising, a shock to voters, not the chronic numbing, soporific effect of the smooth scumbags who usually float themselves to the top. Obama is the leech injecting its paralytic agent into its host, to feed on it until it is killed.

Idpol was notoriously a primary factor in Obama’s career, and he tacitly encouraged it every bit as energetically as he rued it in his public denunciations, but I’m not sure I can decide from week to week how important it was to his career. The Palins got jack shit worth of idpol points for being Alaska Native (or American Indian, as Sarah looks to be more than Elizabeth Warren). Jesse Jackson lost Obama’s base to Michael Dukakis and Poppy Bush. Message: I Don’t Care If You Ain’t Black. Joan Didion’s extended dispatch from the trail makes Jackson sound like a predecessor not to Obama but to Ross Perot, Bernie, and the Other Dr. Jill. No, the elector may not have a little Rainbow Coalition, as a treat, unless he first has a little Massachusetts governor, as a vegetable. Obama’s elections were greatly aided by his running against two loose cannons representing the unpopular party of an open dipshit two-term incumbent during an abrupt economic crash, then against a fake-wholesome Dudley Do Right Mormon and his openly contemptuous hangdog starve-the-beast Wisconsin wackjob lieutenant.

There’s a serviceable argument that the only thing the Democrats had to do not to lose in 2008 and 2012 was hold off on what they did in 2016. It’s barely a variation on why America elected an Afro-Indian Canuck broad to the vice presidency this time. The competition said it all. The Oaf of Office refused to act like an adult for an afternoon during a once-in-a-century public health crisis. Mike Pence didn’t even try to pretend that he didn’t consider his constituents filthy little piggies at the debate. These were the only fucking things these guys had to do for a shot at reelection.

Four years beyond the retirement of a half-black childhood expatriate weirdo from the presidency, the country elected as its next veep a hella weird half-black teen expatriate turned highest-ranking Wilson-Deukmejian Republican holding elected office in California. We still have to drown in NPR cringe about that creep, because NPR, and additional racist cringe about how Gavin grabbed a beaner to replace the bindi negress in the Senate, but not so much about how the replacement just happened to have ratfucked Bernie in the primaries as the California Secretary of State, but this isn’t necessarily anyone who couldn’t have been elevated to such unacceptable height while white (like Mike the Greek lol). The racebaiting helped, but it was a lily-gilding operation.

I think. I hold too many thots.

What the Brahmins actually demand of their officials is devotion to the polite fiction that merit matters. Again, pay attention to who does NOT get idpol points for being a kike or whatever. Would I have voted for Bernie Sanders AND Loretta Sanchez a third time? Of course. Is that diversity? No. Why? Because the same radio scolds are giving the same celebratory homilies as ever. Besides, Bernie is antisemitic because something or other about Israel, which is all Jews, but really because they would never, ever, ever say that about a self-loathing Jew. The psychology is elegant, not elaborate.

Here’s the deal. You can’t spend your thirties doing fuck-all on pirated electricity in a travel trailer and maybe some shitty hippie carpentry and then just show up in the mayor’s office because you convinced enough voters that your platform made sense. You can’t run for the presidency on the stipulation that we aren’t comfortable here because we aren’t from here but we’ll start to become more comfortable through the healing of withdrawing from the fruitless overseas bloodbaaths we started with the pashtunwallah on the orders of the Baltimore Walrus. Mr. Bolton is a statesman!

No. You need to pay your dues, and not to whatever low-class bullshit was repping Todd Palin against BP. You need credentials. You need qualifications.

It certainly helps to be colored, like Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg. A Maltese is an Italian who’s an Arab, but also an Englishman. *Defiantly Scottish Mark Knopfler Voice* That little faggot. As Yogi Berra pointed out, only in America could a Jew be elected mayor of Dublin. The fork in the road worked either way because he lived in Montclair. There are of course other islands that are equally controversial to call America, m’love, yeah? Upsetting the ancestors and not even offering them any King’s rolls, yeah? That’s why we move to the mainland to start our political careers, yeah? Back in da neighbor islands da police chief puts on a lei to peddle influence true his wife da prosecutor, who also dresses like dat too even doe she’s Portuguese, and dat’s white, not wetback or some kine.

This is why our politicians swoop in from states their fellow haole idiotically assume to be free of all public corruption and win election by telling them, look, folks: You can trust me. I’m from Chicago.

Our idea of diversity is always some wooden cipher who turns out on examination to be blood-curdlingly cold. Dad translated Gramsci into English, so let’s talk all smooth and then wreck the Canadian bread market and get schoolchildren killed by shutting off streetlights to save the city a few bucks on its electric bill, but let’s be all gay and Midwestern about it. Alex Padilla: now is that guy a beaner or what? Uh, dawg, I get that you’re trying to get surplus elites to bark at each other from the veal pen like they’re resegregating Compton, but did you have to find somebody who, now that more of us are looking into his record, turns out to be another slimy crook?

It’s the Yugoslavian crackup, but as farce. Some of the more anxious types, like Michael Grasso, are worried sick that the rising tide of Brahmin idpol will provoke truly dire communal violence. They have a reasonable point, but my gut read is that it’s a sideshow to the actual vectors–moronic but resonant white supremacist Facebook memes, #BackTheBlue Punisher merch, the hypervigilant paranoia of the Karen ethnic minority on NextDoor–i.e., insufferably obnoxious, a serious political and civic problem, but ultimately inert in the streets. If cops were just like, hey, stop calling us just because some guy is taking a walk in your neighborhood, that shit would become REALLY inert.

It’s more hypocrisy. Becky may well have a BLM sign in her yard. In this house we believe in tolerance, lov–hey, get your skell ass off my lawn before I call 911! Zooming out to the structural elements of the fractal, although we really ought to stop using that videochat horseshit and go meet out friends in the park or something, we see Kammy again. Of course we do. The criminal undesirable can have a little prosecutor of color, as a treat.

Many on the right are aware of this. It’s an awfully easy script to flip on the libs. Donald Trump might have carried California if he hadn’t convinced so many kids in San Berdoo and Solano that he was out to deport their family and friends. Or maybe the Republican-identifying Wilson-Deukmejian Republicans would have voted for their girl and kept this here shit as blue as Monterey Bay. This is the quality of analysis I bring to the table, and I live here. Then again, look at what we all have before us,,, too Anal Eyes.

*****

Something of this nature is inevitable when only one side correctly reads the other for deep libidinal urges. This whole thing is about sex and death. The right wing, as we’re lately construing it for half-coherent reasons, is the only one that openly figures we might as well have some first. We’re riffing ever more elaborately on the little-discussed undertones of 2016 as a fight between a warm, gregarious libertine and a frigid, bitter prude. That was another good reason to claim my stateroom on the Stein Steamer and see if anyone else wanted to grab a berth: a ticket of two apparently well-adjusted adults talking about grown-up subjects in ways that made sense, instead of a vicious scold scorned diagonally opposite a he-scold church hug dork who was all like, oh no, a man should not be in the same room as a woman, lest he become lustful and cause scandal (yeah, like the raging horndog you allowed to hire you as his lieutenant when he was already known to shamelessly walk in on teenyboppers in the girls’ dressing room).

It’s what we call a political realignment. It didn’t make hella sense in the nineties, when Tipper Gore was whining about rap lyrics and the Big Dog was throwing Joycelyn Elders under the bus for encouraging young women to *Tom Lehrer Scoutmaster Voice* be prepared, as part of his vain effort to win over a Republican caucus full of serial divorcees and perverts. It doesn’t make sense today, with #MeToo veering into neurotic, avoidant paranoia about all awkward sexual interactions being assault at the same times as characters such as Soulja Boy get record labels and nightclub airtime for their songs of the celibate and the alt-right workshops the notion that it isn’t rape because she secretly wants it.

This nasty scene wouldn’t happen to feature some cringe racial tropes, would it? Oh sweet innocent baby child it fucking does. The left–again, as we’re construing this ridiculous shit–crashes into raging upset about the often dark poor trashing its property values by recreating in “its” neighborhoods, has another partially overlapping segment of the poor do its driving and shopping, and bit by bit decrees the poor, servant class and surplus underclass alike, as ritually impure.

Out in the provinces, loud and proud Republicans get their own damn groceries, chatting amicably with the cashier at checkout. They hear about this caste system, and the polite fiction that it is liberal. They smirk, knowingly: another crop of libs begging to be owned.

Things invert. It is now conservative to have casual sex. This sounds like nonsense, St. Robert Bruce Ford soberly partaking of the venerable rock, but if liberalism stands opposed to liberties of interpersonal physical intimacy in these times of contagion, and sex is obviously one such liberty, what else CAN casual sex be but conservative?

It’s baffling, but it’s coherent enough for American politics. This isn’t that fucking wizard shit. The lower orders of our ruling class cherish a series of fantasy novels about the white moderate. Hear me out: the Bartlet Administration, but everybody dresses up like an absolute dork and flies around on a broom. Huh. That sounds dreadful; let’s write up the contract and pay out the advance right here. By all means, be sure to perpetuate an ambiguously enslaved underclass in this storyline but communicate that the exploitation of this underclass for the support of the overclass on its multidemensional antigravity CIA brooms is only modestly problematic to those who examine these things too closely.

It’s normcore, but it’s normcore for batshit insane idiots who are without a doubt exploring the Spectrum. Many such cases! Let’s be sure to ridicule conservatives for their religiosity while we’re at it, and of course make fun of them for their oopsie babies.

That’s the thing. One couple’s–one community’s–career-ending unplanned pregnancy is another’s spontaneous family formation, one child born in the world to carry on. How can this be a bad thing?

Of course, the devil is in the details, and so when the ideals of family values subsidiarity fail in practice they often fail hard, and transitively so. Their failure fails families. George W. Bush probably said it, too, or Dan Quayle, but it’s true.

On the other hand, when it works, it works beautifully. That’s who Bristol Palin did for her family. She could’ve picked smarter, but the kids will probably be all right. There’s no need to stress about getting the kid into the right preschool.

Glorious Nation of Bougiekistan is intersectionally horrified by this alternative model because it sets an uncomfortably bad example. It raises the specter of being outnumbered by a horde of dysgenic zealots; let us be sure, then, to denounce the white ones and be tactful about what brown can do for you, too, on demographics. The booj are scared to death that their own precious brats will go native with low-class breeders. It’ll wreck their college and career prospects. It will dilute family fortunes and family standings.

This helps explain the intramural controversy over socialism in the Democratic Party. The PMC normie centrist wing very much does not want free money going to low-class losers who will waste it on bullshit like raising their low-class loser kids; these precious, scarce funds are to be stewarded for the education of the worthy elect (and the military). The broad left wing–Trump-curious blue-collar types, service sector workers (an actual working class the lib normies dare not contemplate because its existence would trash their prejudices), ruined surplus elites bitter that they got such a raw deal–damn well want the free money. If it’s good enough for Bezos, it’s good enough for us. The fuck is the problem with giving everybody two grand? The rich may not give a shit to get it, but the middling and the poor will be grateful because they need it. Do we really gotta means-test this shit again? Aging MSNBC tiger parents aren’t all like, please, means-test my Social Security check and reduce it if I exceed the eligibility threshold.

It’s always somebody else who must be strangled with the red tape. The neighbors can have a suitably little Castilleja School, capped at an enrollment of 415, as a treat. I don’t know if any of you wanted to be apprised of Palo Alto again; I didn’t particularly, but Palo Alto reached out to me by yard sign on my way to Christmas Tree Lane. It’s like the new father of the pride eating the last schmuck’s cubs, but for good down-to-earth public school supporters who love them some Walter Hays and can’t stand the rich bitches half a mile up Embarcadero.

The difference between this obnoxious horseshit and the means-testing of welfare is the difference between a bitchfest about the neighborhood quality of life (the worst people making the best arguments about street trees and traffic for the worst reasons) and government massacre by determination of ineligibility. We’re dealing here with politically hyperengaged property owners who are convinced, existentially and libidinally, that their survival depends on the Darwinian murder of the unfit. Mind you, they’re good woke liberals, so they insist on decimation by bureaucracy. It must be bloodless and deniable. There’s no way they could have known that their beloved elected officials would get their poorer constituents sickened and killed by insisting on proof of eligibility for public benefits. Yeah, no way except for their frequent, adamant refusal to provide for universal public benefits. Are we really expecting a single mother who’s desperately trying to piece a living together from minimum wage jobs to afford a lawyer or an accountant to dispute denials? Or are we secretly, subconsciously satisfied–even relieved–that this regime we support by always voting for weasels who enact it keeps her off-balance, precarious, and indigent?

These conditions make her a better servant, yes?

The Population Bomb guy’s only child is a nonprofit lawyer turned dog groomer or some other bullshit like that. Yeah, I guess I’m really one to talk, but that’s what a community gets for setting up a runaway real estate boom instead of an annual per capita sovereign wealth dividend for its legal residents.

The loud and proud right looks at the deracinated, barren, low-key eliminationist eugenics of America’s SuperZip freak zones and wonders, quite reasonably, whether the locals ever get any action. They hire proxies for their wars, just as they do for their grocery runs, and they sure don’t act like they get laid. They practice and insist on propagating a quasicelibate form of toxic eliminationist eugenics. Since that’s what the libs are already doing, what the hell is wrong with a socially exuberant, sexually active, fertile expression of fascism? That’s toxic, too. It veers into martial genocide, babysnatching, and rape. It yields performative horseshit like gender reveal parties (excuse me, children, I believe you mean revelations) and T-shirts with unfortunate gross discussions of how daddy splooged in mommy as passive-aggressive territorial patrol against the homo tranny shit and whatever.

I’m not saying it’s good. I’m saying it’s already here, it’s morally comparable to liberal one child policy eugenics and the associated overwrought hygienic protocols (see Palo Alto, obviously), and it gets a fool some ass. Hence President Trump. That, and trade and industrial policy and not being a prissy squeamish bitch around the hardhats.

We’ve been over Trump’s role here again and again. It’s predictable enough that the Donald takes the lead from time to time on cutting the damn check while Third Way shitbirds and their nominal enemies on the Republican right throw fits about procedure and fiscal discipline and other crap they suddenly stop believing when Lockheed-Martin shows up for another feeding.

*****

The relatively reasonable aspect of the respectable center’s objections to the healthy sexuality and familial abundance of clans like the Palins is that little people following their example won’t be able to afford to raise the spawn they so recklessly conceived. Back when the respectable center racialized this scolding campaign in the nineties under the auspices of welfare reform, welfare-to-work, and similar nerd-ass policy followups to Reagan’s Cadillac welfare queen slur, Toni Morrison made the ridiculous offer, in the first and second persons, to raise young black single mothers’ babies while they go to medical school and become neurosurgeons. I come up with grandiose cringe plans when I’m hypomanic, too. She was on to something, though. Our first black president and his wife could afford to hire the village to raise their child.

In many ways, government really is just the name we give the things we choose to do together. Contemplate it and shudder. Dat subsidiarity, tho. Who will be there to help the single mother raise her children, or the young, unprepared, unwed couple theirs?

Call me old-fashioned, but I keep thinking about ad hoc combinations of union pay and benefits, local friends and family, and government assistance. Gee, these are exactly the things our shitbag centrist rulers keep denying us! It’s impractical to expect these things of society and unreasonable to demand them of the government, but huh, whaddaya fuggen know, the same politicians who chide their constituents to be more reasonable about these things and wait in patience for incremental progress towards them (it’s called progressivism now) always find a way to oppose these same things when they come up for a vote. When push comes to shove, it is our lot to live deracinated, indigent lives doing on-call servant work for a pittance, scattered to the winds from hometowns our rulers have decided to gut and rebuild for their own private use (gentrification) or strip and abandon in full (the Rust Belt).

The hell is “voting against their own interests” supposed to mean when this is the agenda voters try to defeat at the polls? Voting for Trump the populist is coherent. Voting for Trump the liberal or Trump the leftist is coherent. It’s a longshot, it’s a Hail Mary pass (in this house we pray not for football, a vulgarity of the earth, but to St. Richard Russell, an aerobat, for support from the skies), but it’s coherent. Remember the lesser of two evils? Silverado Trail remembers! Where else would I go to be forcibly bathed in cope for grabbing my spot on the Stein Steamer, a voyage towards the affirmatively good, even though I easily preferred Trump to Clinton but didn’t see the point to voting for the dumbass who thot he’d keep the cartel drugs out with a wall when we were still, like, a decade away from ranked-choice presidential voting? Okay, yeah, Mark West or anywhere from Blossom Hill to the Marina and on over the bridge to some shit like Novato (but maybe not the poor part of town down on the frontage road between the freeway and the slough, out by the airport); that shit would work, too, because this state is right fucked.

It’s just as coherent for the affluent to vote for the Democrats’ predatory agenda because it works to their socioeconomic benefit, short-term and if they’re as lucky as they hope also long-term. Good liberals that they are, I guess we just have to keep listening to their psychotic rationalizations about how their voting habits are altruistic, or else retreat from civic life into Benedict Option escapism. The Amish get ass like they’re Mormon, you know. No, I mean one wife in American Dork–I mean, goodness–maybe two if you’re discreet, not some Colorado City bullshit where you have your private police force run surplus young men out of town because you fancy their sisters, which sounds different from the rest of America more than it is diffferent. In a still far from ideal society, grown-ass adults indulging in the faddish fixation on Hamilton would admit that they’re dipshits with bad taste in art, not act like they’re doing civics by soundtrack. Still, notice that they get the absurdly fresh groceries, delivered, by government when they can’t by courier.

Don’t blame me for using that language. I learned it from Dave Freeman. That unfortunately fits into the puzzle, too. KQED is now encouraging its listeners to donate by the end off the year so they can get a tax break for keeping their money in California. Slushing money to other rich people is charity now, but in high circles it always has been. The cope we’re using here is the ridiculous assumption that California’s net contributions to the federal treasury are paying for Mitch McConnell’s necrotic ass, not for the merest creature comforts for piss-poor dying Kentuckians out in the trailer park hollows who got that way by trying to work for a living or collecting much smaller government checks. McDowell County is about a tenth black these days, but it’s pointless to think about actual highland demographics and their implications on the left coast campaign to #StayWoke. We’re just trying to maintain #BlackLivesMatter as the archipelago of yard signs it should be. Swear to God, we’re just trying to kill off the honky-ass West Virginians, who have to be the whole population. Oh, the Black Belt is a net recipient of federal funds? Huh. Surely we aren’t trying to kill poor negroes from our 99.5% nonblack neighborhoods, through policy.

*****

How, as our Parkhomenkometer flatlines at its hard upper mechanical limit, could Bernie would have won?

Duh: by appealing to poors out in the provinces who maybe hold crudely retrograde racial views or maybe have dear friends who are black or maybe have both. We like Uncle Bernie! The Ragin’ Cajun doesn’t, but he isn’t one to work for a living. As we discussed above, that ain’t a check you get from the gubbyment by /extremely Guyland voice/ filling out forms, standing in line, and waiting here, for the Pennsylvania you never found.

Yeah, Bernie wears his mask. He isn’t a scold about it, though. He and Jane shooed a group of volunteers back out on the sidewalk early in the Rona, but they were Jewish grandparently about about it, not assholes. No, no, wash yaw hands befaw you come in faw dinna! Okay, you ready faw some bawsht? The other thing is, he’s trying to keep Americans alive, not starve the poor to death.

Many Americans are just trying to side with life this winter, not death, even in this death cult. They want a spiritually, socially, physically meaningful life.

TSA throughput numbers are credible, but what Anthony Fauci says about them is not. No, I’ve been lying to the American people about the herd immunity threshold for their own good. What nuclear reactor explosion? Why the hell are the Swedes saying it’s our radiation. How awful it is that some of them flew to see family this Christmas, as slightly fewer but still many did for Thanksgiving, in these times when travel means looming death but it’s also something we could all catch in the supermarket and the authorities are doing approximately jack shit to mitigate it. How dare they try to live their lives while they still have lives to live? They should be content that “we” are, as ordered, simply having a virtual Christmastime.

The drive to the airport is still the most dangerous part. That’s why I try to take the train.

Decency

Mike Mersky assaulted me for using profanity in a school hallway. He bumrushed me up against a wall in front of dozens of other students for two or three syllables of unmemorably light Heavy Seven. You pricked your finger and then fingered your prick? Use some lotion next time! 

If I’d had a set of fucking balls I would have gone to the police and probably had him fired within the week. It’s fine to squirm around courtside and bark moves at the lady ballers, but the safe way to act like Bobby Knight is to be Robert Montgomery Knight, and Mersky wasn’t it. He wasn’t even a Benjamin Montgomery Robinson; that was no union gig he had with us. My problem was that I was being low-key community blackmailed over mental and behavioral health moments that were more innocuous than the Mike Move but seedier.

I’ll still swear, to this day, that Mike Mersky assaulted me in his capacity as a school principal, to wit, the immediate successor of Headmaster Dick Johnson. That was why we needed to watch our language around the Day School. It would have been scandalous of us to address one another as the man in charge of all thirteen grades at our school. 

Mersky wasn’t any coarser than Lieutenant Tittytorque, but he was worse. Lieutenant Tittytorque forcefeeding me Jim Beam, slamming four times as much Jimmy himself, and then grabbing my nipples to tune in WWVA was 100% voluntary association, just as Tocqueville wanted it. None of that was ever a good idea, but that beefy freak did not hold authority in loco parentis. When the principal is acting like that, or God help us all the school cop, it’s past time to nip that shit in the bud. 

It hit me this evening, as I walked out on Joe Biden’s unseemly victory speech celebrating the recording of the Electoral College’s statehouse voting conventions to pick up an order of dim sum: Mike Mersky is Joe Biden is Mike Mersky. They’re the same fucking bastard. They’re the same coarse, insufferably greasy middlebrow Mid-Atlantic piece of shit. They talk the same, they strut the same, they bark abuse the same. 

I have no reason to believe that Mersky is a sex pest or a pervert–worth mentioning, obviously, because Funny Uncle Joe is overtly both–but otherwise they’re the same dangerous, disgusting thing. Mersky loved to say, “I’m gonna be perfectly honest with you.” Yeah, that’s what I expect you to be, you cunt. You run this fucking school. Malarkey, we might call it. Man alive, Corn Pop, I’m gonna brain ya with this chain, Jack. 

First State Skull Pudding has the permanent, total privilege to utter threats and fighting words at close range in front of witnesses and news cameras, grope, assault, and forcibly rape where Mike Mersky does not because Joe is two or three quanta farther up and out. When teachers do that it’s a contigent privilege, innit, Denny. Put me in Coach! I mean, put Coach in me! I mean, gimme some cash, Coach! You’re ready to pay! In ways it’s surprising that Denny Dundiddly went down for what Denny Dundiddily dun, but he was after an ex-Speaker with a personal fortune in the mere mid-seven figures. What stands out about so many other sexually compromised guys above him–Clinton, Trump–can be accused on the record of forcible rape and suffer no consequences. Nothing ever happens to them. The Big Dog got deposed, I think. Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, pudding his pop where it didn’t belong, there to pound more than just cake, got off Scot free for decades. Men who are known to have traveled abroad on a custom private jet with a convicted serial molester and his barely teenage sex slaves are allowed to do whatever the hell they fancy, and in their public lives, no less. Joe gets to put his hands wherever he damn well pleases. 

Nothing happens to these creeps. Nothing ever happens. 

Here’s the mindbending part. 

My parents both found Mike Mersky sleazy, shifty, and abrasive. I have never told them about what he did to me, because I always assumed they’d blame me and don’t want any unpleasantness over that bullshit. They didn’t need to hear a thing about his being physically aggressive or menacing for them to dislike him for chronically being a greasy prick. 

What do they tihnk of Joe Biden, then? He’s restoring decency to American politics. He’s restoring the rule of law. He’s a unifier, not a divider. Whatever he did for the banks, it wasn’t as bad as Trump. Whatever he did to make life hell on the vulnerable poor in neighborhoods he flooded with jackbooted cops enforcing newly draconian laws, it wasn’t as bad as Trump. Whatever horrible things he’s trying to od to this day, he is in no way as bad as Trump. 

It’s so dispiriting to hear people who always distrusted a shady sleazeball rally around Joe Biden, of all ghouls, because he’s a man of decency. How could he be a rapist, a molester, a groper, a white supremacist bigot, a fascist, an armchair jailhouse slaver, a superintendent of mass debt peonage, or even a dementing weirdo? For fuck’s sake it’s because he’s proven to be all of these awful things. Yes, he’s that bad.

I’ve heard “decency” more this fall than I heard it over the five or ten years prior. In tandem with the full-blast firehose of idpol the centrist elements of the chattering classes have been blasting on us since the election, they keep repeating that Joe’s decent, a man of decency. Audio and video of him from THIS CALENDAR YEAR show him lashing out with terrible indecency: Go vote for someone else then; you’re full of shit, a horse’s ass; meet me outside; you ain’t black. If the average A-List figure were carrying on like that, it would be all over the news all the time. Look at how they react to Trump. Instead they just flat-out make shit up about Biden’s character and repeat it ad nauseam.  

The idpol this fall is like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. I expect some gross idpol from the MSM, and certainly from the hopeless veal pen inmates who kiss up to PC Principal from the inept margins of academia, but the Celebration of Diversity they’re throwing in observance of the current interregnum is a world of its own. NPR has had days with multiple items about who of what communal identity has been nominated for what. Meanwhile, the Biden transition team’s nomination process has crashed on launch, disintegrating into a rubble field of corruption and dysfunction. 

What’s happening here, as has been happening across so much of mainstream American life, is that words mean everything and actions mean jack fucking shit. We saw this in a bad way in the pathetic dispute, still under litigation in some quarters, over Trump’s Pussy Comment. The real problem with this publicly accused rapist and unannounced girls’ dressing room visitor is the time he bragged about his louche sex life to a giggling Billy Bush. One of the least credible forms of self-incriminating testimony imaginable is a salacious locker room story for a trust fund dipshit with a celebrity gossip show. There’s no positive, intrinsic reason to believe that any of it is true. Trump habitually lies about all sorts of things to make himself sound successful and brash. 

Even if it’s all true, the troubling thing about the public reaction to Storytime with Billy Bush (again, how are these characters real people?) fixated on the pussy part. Very little agonizing effort was expended denouncing him for bragging that he “moved on them like a bitch” or his explicit claim that he did not ask permission or look for any expression of comfort or consent. What these hysterics feel so deeply about (as he said) is that the future president used common street slang to brag about his promiscuous sexual habits. He used the same word the vast majority of American adults use for the vulva and the vagina when they talk about sex in private.

The pussyhatters’ thinking is more confused yet. Few of them object to the general coarsening of public life with loud sexual language and imagery, which is unmistakable in many places. Genuinely conservative religious voters who sincerely want talk about sex to stay tactful and private quietly facepalmed when they heard that naughty tape from the Republican nominee for the presidency. Pussyhatters skew the other way, ridiculing the religious right for being prudish and repressed (about most of the avowedly conservative “values voters” in this country they have an unfortunately good point).

What they find so objectionable is that Trump, specifically, used that word. It gets even dumber (does it ever not?), because very few of these hysterical performative feminists objected to Trump’s ostentatious public coarseness when he was peddling it as a celebrity developer and television cosplay executive. The pushback against Trump’s obnoxious antics in the eighties was marginal and ineffectual. The pushback against The Apprentice was EXTREMELY marginal. It was impotent. I was around normies all the time. The only people who even tacitly or tangentially criticized “reality” television were a handful of lefty eccentrics and conservative Benedict Option types.

Then Trump ran for the presidency. He ridiculed politics as self-serious bullshit, humiliated Jeb!, insulted the full slate of movement conservatives on the debate stage, and stood up against immigration and for a reinvigorated industrial policy. All of a sudden he was unconscionably coarse and dangerous. Tens of millions of diehard Democrats who were basically okay with however nasty he was on TV as an apolitical celebrity, including quite a few who enjoyed it, were appalled that he dared speak ill of hard-right ghouls who should have been choked out by furious constituents the first time they workshopped their evil schemes as members of the school board.

This is what centrism gets us. The runup to the election was saturated with deafening campaigns to rehabilitate the very worst Republicans the moment they tested the waters as Trump critics. It’s surreal.

There’s no actual principle to this shit. It’s gone with the wind by the time W. and the gang get rehabilitated. God knows we’re still entangled to death in the desert, but Trump sometimes expresses a keen interest in winding down the desert wars and bringing our boys and girls home for good. Of course the bloodless chickenshit nerds who got us into that ruinous bloodbath in the first place hate him.

The deep story behind the pussyhatting outrage, the movement conservative-Third Way neoliberal alliance’s annoyance over Trump’s distracted wanderings through fleetingly but impressively coherent interests in left populism, the neoconservative objections to his sporadic desire to bring the troops home, and the constant lectures from the Intelligence Community (which did not exist as a formal public concept prior to his 2016 campaign) is that Trump is out of his lane and out of line for expressing political opinions. Nobody gave HIM permission to speak! Nobody gave HIM permission to run for office!

This is why so many people complain that Trump is declasse and his base is exclusively the white working class. The elite and subelite factions so upset by his presidency are uncomfortable with working-class agitation of any kind (because it threatens their wealth, privilege, and power) and hurt that other educated and moneyed people have in-your-face dogshit reactionary politics, not the usual “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” centrist moral evasion or mild-mannered movement conservative politics amenable to centrist Democrats (because that means they have class peers who will never go to the dance with them). Biden’s nomination and election are a soul balm for these insufferable nerds. His victory over Bernie and that whole rabble of downwardly-mobile class traitors and the unwashed generationally poor is soothing lotion for their bunghole.

This is what they mean by decency. They love Biden because his election restores the sacred reservation of high office for careerists who pay their dues (payable out of the US Treasury) and toe the centrist bipartisan line. It resubordinates the rabble to their centrally-approved political betters. It’s easy for them to ignore Delaware Brain Dribble’s repeated foultempered outbursts, expressions of deepseated bigotry, condescending contempt for the acute needs of ordinary Americans, and episodic overt senility because they’re brainwashed and insane. It’s easy for them to become and remain convinced he’s better than Trump: less of an asshole, not an asshole, less of a rapist, not a rapist, I mean, gosh, really, there’s nothing wrong with him for being physical sometimes, he’s just a stutterer who puts his foot in his mouth.

They object to Trump for being too human for politics: too passionate too emotional, too vulgar. His off-color comments are retroactively problematic because he had the nerve to intrude, agitate the undesirables (i.e., the poor crackers they insist are the full extent of his base), and make the lanyards and professional chatterers look like exactly the joyless dorks they are. Never mind that he spent his whole career prior to 2016 bragging about dicking bimbos; one is shocked that the President would speak and comport himself in that low manner.

At the same time, they celebrate Biden for being the genuine human we need in the White House in these troubled times. He’s down-to-earth, he’s poor for a career Senator, he has working-class roots, he’s liberal, and ad nauseam with the bullshit and lies. He’s definitely rich. His parents were white-collar upper middle class by the time he started high school. No attentive, honest obsever would ever make him out to be a poor simple country lawyer whose daddy worked in a wildcat mine.

Mind you, they don’t mean sexually human. That little something-something with the Defense Secretary’s wife didn’t happen. He doesn’t grind she-bikers on his lap in front of their husbands. He doesn’t sniff little girls’ hair. Or if it does, it’s a nothingburger. (Centrism is braindead straight down to its catchphrases.)

This is shit that would get an ordinary man throttled in a church parking lot or beaten to death in a bar brawl. The rules are different for grandees who are guarded by dedicated squads of crack federal agents standing by within lunging distance whenever they leave the house. A man would get tackled or shot for reclaiming his wife from Joe Biden. When a man has that level of protection and publicly, repeatedly makes moves on women in front of their husbands,who are painfully aware they cannot safely do a thing but outwait, that man is not decent. He shows what he is. He’s a predator.

Back east, I used to run with some frisky chicks in MontCo and Manayunk whose boyfriends didn’t mind if they danced up on me, and I on them. Shit, Burmila, I used to have it. Guess I still do, after a fashion, but good God I’m in here writing this crap. One of the chicks was Irish. Her boyfriend was super chill about it, not cucked, just laidback. Two others, both of them Italian, were both dating low-key weird and messed-up Jews. The one chick was the distant, hella crazy kind of Italian. The chubbier, more approachable one named her ugly-ass tomcat after me. That cat was like if you put G. K. Chesterton in a fur suit and then ran him through the warp setting on FaceApp.

It was still an honor.

There’s something wrong with the Italians, but we knew that. Point is, we basically maintained the normal give-and-take that normal people maintain in normal interactions and relationships. (The Insurance Schmuck was how I knew these people, so it was a small miracle.) Nobody showed up with the Mormon answer to a rapper’s entourage and threw his weight around all night. I sure as hell didn’t.

It’s perversely encouraging to consider that a fair chunk of Biden’s coalition only thinks it admires him for his character. The last thing good property-owning liberals want to do is admit that they vote as property owners, not liberals. As I’ve said before, it’s refreshingly apsychotic to get the feeling that the shitlib booj are voting their interests, not acting on an eanest terminal obsession with the tiresome Schoolhouse Rock shuck and jive about civic values.

This shit is why GnocchiWizard encourages his followers to walk away from politics and focus on art, on making the world a more beautiful place. Does this essay count? I feel less brainscrambled than sometimes from The Craft, so there’s that. We’re all just crying out into the void, into the wilderness or some shit. But we still have prayer, just like Jesus. We still have the prayers handed down to us. We can still pray for our politicians. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us against that shitty creep. We didn’t order that. Return to sender.

You think I’m kidding. I wish I were.

D mock crass, see cunt in you (D)

Ayelet Waldman announced that she would not be donating to low-income heating funds this winter because too many of her neighbors in Maine fly Trump regalia off their trailers, then passive-aggressively reversed course and announced that she would be pretending not to hate the beneficiaries of her charity, which she was performing to the glory of Joe Biden. Since we’re here to talk about existential threats of a sociopolitical nature, verifiable or hallucinated, I’ll mention that I’m Jewish enough to construe Waldman’s vile outburst as a minor and latent but unsettling existential threat to me, but as they say about sex in Maine, it’s all relatives.

Besides, I try not to be a whiny little bitch. As Colby Cosh would say, uh, you’re some douche with a Twitter account. What are you gonna do, post cringe about me? Waldman’s is the language of a person accustomed to bossing other people around. In this case, the uppity were gentile Mainers daring to show the audacity of the caucasity while Waldman indulged in the audacity of cope. In other cases it’s black and brown people, but we try not to talk about that. We’re members in good standing of the Society for the Prevention of Kwesi Millington for Sheriff.

They’re throwing furniture all over Silverado Trail again. Juice do you copy?

Again, the Beans of Egypt are not why Trump is president, but also again, the cope crew are hella squeamish about blaming their fellow affluent for anything, aside from certain classes of Optimate attacks on the Brahmin affluent (see: Turner, Brock). I’m persuadable on a case-by-case basis that the poor voted for the Donald, but I demand evidence, and just as importantly I demand context. Like, how many laid-off green chain roustabouts living in single-wides out in the pine barrens voted for Trump versus how many shitheads with yacht dealerships?

Mind you, Boater Nation can afford its oil bills. There goes your precious leverage, rich girl.

There’s supposedly been some impressive monkey business in a number of Democratic boss wards this year. Believe it or not, I don’t much care about electoral politics anymore, which must be why I write so much about it, so either way, clean or crooked, the Shit Done Gone Down on the Streets of Philadelphia I’ve triaged to tertiary priority at best. That’s the thing, Milton. We might as well spend more time with our ladyfriends out in Moorestown and less time on that crap. We are going to have an atrocious presidential administration for the next four years either way. What gives me hope is the unpredictable but palpable energy for direct action to do what none of those four shitheads and their entourages will ever do in the public interest.

What I find most interesting about the election, rather, is that it’s so gross. Admit it: That’s why you come here. It’s just like they teach in Outward Bound. The mistake is to fight the tide of filth. Hang ten and you’ll ride it out. *Guy Hagi midnight forecast voice* See you out in the Pacific!

A great example of the season’s grossness, almost as bad as the Holy Roman Empire of “coffee,” the Pumpkin Spice Latte (so, so sic), is the Biden-Harris First Saturday victory party. Either you believe in norms and wait for the concession call, or you don’t and you don’t. Try to square the circle and you’re just Rob Ford insisting that he soberly smoked crack. Our big boy had more self-respect than that. He knew he was round, not square. The Norms Respecters of our Restoration Party wouldn’t even wait 96 hours to do their touchdown dance. They’re promising to govern us, so I say that’s a bad sign.

It’s an unfortunately appropriate time for some All-American whataboutism, given the greater Trump campaign’s efforts to fix the election, if less successfully so than last time around. Still, trump is 100% right not to concede until he’s had his canvasses, recounts, and audits. First State Skull Pudding and his executrix declared victory based on some wire service election calls. That’s like saying that I just got into conductor school because my sister-in-law says I know too much about trains not to apply.

Humor me if I’m in no mood to listen to any more horseshit from or on behalf of those two about how they too passionately cherish our norms and institutions and (God help us) processes to give one inch to Big Orange. And demanding a recount isn’t a coup. Where the hell do they come up with this hysterial nonsense? Does that huge soft loaf LOOK like he’ll barricade himself in the White House and bar the door against an eviction party of US Marshals? Chill out. All he’s gonna do is grandstand and whine. If the standing nonprosecution agreement (cool, another norm) is breached, he’ll flee to Dubai or whatever. Remember, from Japan’s perspective, Carlos is still ghosn.

Meanwhile we also have to hear insulting shtick about how Gropey Joe is working-class. Joe don’t know jack about ball bearings, strikes, and the riot police. That’s a working-class game where the cops might want to check the stables for some “spares.”

You may say neigh; I say /Monty Robinson field statement voice/ Yeah, that’s it. The kid skidded his bike on some marbles.

D mock crass, see

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guys. Ya gotta do better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course not. It’s NPR.

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

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

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

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

Atticus Pitch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The math is yours if you want it.

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


Atticus Pitch

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

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

Duh. Money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ow, Tate, my balls.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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