More Panera Democrats: different blame rules for different blame fools

The Democratic Party cannot organize anything like See You at the Pole. It hardly even has the discipline to stand back and allow a movement of the sort that is consistent with its purposes to do its thing without nitpicking interference or other neurotic distractions.

That the GOP has See You at the Pole and the Democratic Party has nothing analogous is telling, and damning of the Dems. See You at the Pole isn’t exactly a Republican movement, but it’s tactically and strategically shrewd and consistent with the goals of every significant extant faction of the Republican Party (get thee back to the hearth, Rockefeller; nice job locking up all the black folk for drugs, tho), and so Republicans of all remaining stripes work in concert with it, just as it works in concert with them. Secular movement conservatives don’t try to engage the flagside establishmentarians in internecine warfare; the flag prayer circle dipshits, in turn, basically punch left, putting aside what they assume are relatively minor differences with secular Republican factions to focus on what they believe (mostly rightly) are major differences with liberals and leftists.

See You at the Pole is horseshit, but it’s effective horseshit. Those who aren’t familiar with religious right cultural touchstones may be having salacious thoughts of what Lambert Strether calls ladies of negotiable affection more on the pole than at it, but it isn’t anything that reputable or upstanding. *Beavis butting in, head and all* Hehheh, uh, I’m, uh, totally upstanding right now, but you might be more comfortable kneeling to, uh, polish my pole. *Huhhuh* There’s something touchingly innocent and earnest about a bunch of (mostly) young people who believe in their own ideals and in their own power to effect their ideals coming together in a prayer circle around a flagpole, but on reflection it’s a dubious and even dangerous authoritarian bonding ritual blurring the lines between religion and civics. There is no aspect of sincere Christian praxis that requires such a pushy stunt; this shit is Constantinian church-state aggression updated for a modern Protestant-leaning right-wing sensibility and reweaponized; but this is precisely why Republicans, both of the sort who sincerely believe in the religious right agenda and of the sort who secretly ridicule the religious right as a rabble of useful idiots, encourage this muddled public worship. It’s great agitprop for all of them. It organizes people who otherwise might wander down rabbit holes to the left (labor unionism, say) under the auspices of a public religious preoccupation that directs any political impulses back to the hard right.

The Democrats can’t hold a candle to this. As I said, See You at the Pole is not organized under formal Republican auspices, but it’s a very easy thing for Republicans, who already share an exaggerated and explicit version of the tacit authoritarianism informing these prayer rallies, to endorse. If their schedules are free or they really enjoy mixing it up with the values voters, they can drop by for some prayer and readings not in their secret closet. Otherwise, they can rope in a large part of their target constituency just by saying, hey, I’d have loved to be there but couldn’t make it, but you guys are doing great work, keep it up.

Liberal Democrats who try to outargue the religious right on these cheap authoritarian stances regularly get tripped up and made to look ridiculous and impotent. I campaigned for John Kerry in rural Pennsylvania, so I would know. Bernie Sanders has the rhetorical focus and discipline to stake a claim on his own policy territory and not be lured away from it by wedge issue assholes, but as I’ve carried on about at such length already, the Democratic Party as an institution was not down with the old socialist. Hillary Clinton and everyone around her are fucking hopeless against the religious right. Long Face, an unfortunately weak communicator, made a stumbling but sincere effort to present a nuanced approach to reconciling private faith with public policy, and he got steamrolled by anti-intellectual thugs who didn’t give a shit. Hillary, who has long had a reputation on almost every part of the political spectrum except the center-left for exceptional licentiousness, looks like the Devil Incarnate when she tries to appeal to religious voters, not just a possible unwitting tool of the Dark One. This diabolical look is pretty comprehensive for her, actually: the feminazi harpy never-resting bitch face (not the most gracious look) that offends and discomfits so many cultural conservatives is at least loosely of a piece with the commodities trading monkey business (Carl Sandburg and Leroy Brown, pray for us), the barely-legal-in-Arkansas Whitewater scam (Campbell, you on the line again? Afraid we need you, too), We Came We Saw He Died (for various reasons, I don’t even try to get a hold of History Resistance Liberty Glory Revolution), and the Dr. Evil in distress act that she couldn’t suppress late in her last presidential campaign on account of her being in trouble electorally, which she inevitably delivered in an apparently empty room while dressed in the fashion of a lesbian apotheosis of Mao and Nehru.

The overall optics of the Clinton/Kaine campaign were a raging clusterfuck that the Republicans were able to beat just by running a slightly wooden but impeccably wholesome veep candidate under a loose cannon who, regardless of his judgment or his intellect, clearly had a heart. Mike Pence and Donald Trump are both effective campaigners who successfully appealed to complementary parts of a Republican base that Trump dramatically expanded by appealing to disgruntled Democrats, many of them recently berned over. As inferred Trump voter Michael Moore kept pointing out, Hillary just wasn’t getting through in the rust belt; the different things that can be tried on Torch Lake include getting baked as fuck in a MAGA hat or soberly having a KFC family bucket and a half gallon of RC Cola for dinner while finalizing one’s conclusion that the Democrats really, seriously blew it this time and that one’s fellow slovenly fat guy is the real cultural liberal and trade union leftist remaining in the race at the witching hour.

Never Trump will have a shit fit over the last part, but look at the diverse coalition that the Donald brought together just by being all over the place and picking a politically and temperamentally complementary running mate. Hillary could have picked Bernie, and he would have put her over the top, but her priority, and for reasons of corruption her party’s, was spending the general election campaign reminding him and his supporters that their proper place in the coalition was as meek, submissive, whipped little bitches. That worked out great, guys. I didn’t want that woman in the White House, so I don’t mind gloating a bit now and then. Sexist? I didn’t really want Kaine around there, either. Also, I voted for Jill Stein, bitch. It depends on what the meaning of “her” is, and sharing a candidate with a marginal collection of anti-vaxxers and healing crystals freaks is better than sharing one with a horde of insatiable power yuppies. I’m not crazy about Trump getting so easily triggered by the Nork Dork, but at least he isn’t starting shit with our supremely rational and mostly peaceable alleged enemies in the Kremlin, who conspicuously are not joining Piggy Gangnam Style in announcing plans for a nuclear missile attack on Guam.

Etc., but Wow Much Words. #WithHer regards argumentation like that as retardation on the level of someone with Down’s Syndrome talking about how good the hot dogs are at Bear River Pump-n-Play. It’s Wiener Day at the Roth’s in West Salem tomorrow; go choke on one. The refusal to acknowledge nuance on the part of the opposition is not a good look in a sworn liberal party. That doesn’t just alienate conservatives and reactionaries. Donald Trump looking like the more liberal candidate appeals to some of us. If the nominal liberals won’t confront their own illiberalism, maybe he’ll confront it for them. It might be worth a try.

In this context, the impotent embarrassments of Democratic-aligned protest movements is worth a look. Happily married women with large families aren’t natural allies for the pussy hat marchers, whom they’re more likely to regard as barren, bitter, pathological shit-stirrers, even freaks. Appealing to nebulous concepts of virtue like science and reason backfires on those who won’t honestly state and defend their own principles: extensive moral reasoning led Rick Santorum in a very different direction, and now liberals smear him by smugly appropriating his surname for a slurry of post-climactic butt goo, all while he’s married with, IIRC, five living children.

Bernie Sanders stays away from this toxic, distracting shit, but the Democratic Party would rather adopt Dan Savage as a mainstream standardbearer. But it gets worse than that. Bernie is beyond their comfort zone, but he’s closer than most of the voters they’re theoretically trying to reach. He’s a college-educated sitting United States Senator. Famously on the gotcha right and center, he owns several lake houses. The problem, the intractable problem, is that he talks basically like an organizer at a union hall. He relates to coal miners. Like Trump, he’s comfortable reaching out to workaday people, but he does so at a much more granular, thoughtful, and probably honest level, and he has a strong track record in industrial policy benefiting his constituents in Vermont that parallels Trump’s casino bankruptcies and stiffing of small family-owned contractors in Atlantic City.

Sanders has a more honest version of what Republican politicians have and Democratic politicians desperately need: an ability to get into the trenches and interact with ordinary voters on their own turf. It’s hard to say for sure what mix of sincere interest and depraved psychosexual drives motivates Republican politicians to do effective retail politics with voters at state fairs and grange halls and churches and athletic events, but they do it. It comes naturally to them. They look comfortable. Democrats look all grossed out that some pig is about to shit on their Bruno Maglis. Or some voter. Hell, Mitt Romney has a fucking elevator in La Jolla for his cars, and even he had more in common with ordinary voters than Hillary Clinton on account of his involvement in LDS stake leadership, which involves ongoing dealings with congregants at various socioeconomic levels.

Of course this idiot crew can’t connect with farmers or factory hands. We’ve got a political class on what passes for the left that can’t think of a single thing that it has in common with normal, average people in probably eighty percent of US counties and, let’s not kid ourselves, many urban neighborhoods. The client-patron relationship that the Democratic Party presumes with African-American and Latino voters isn’t nearly as sustainable or cordial as the Dems think it is, but when they try to take the same attitude to majority-white parts of flyover country, where voters forthrightly expect not to be treated so condescendingly, the locals invite them to immediately enjoy a hearty serving of Manchego Fuck Yourself. They dig themselves even deeper into the hole by pretending that 10% black counties in Appalachia are 100% white and 100% bigoted, and then return to their contemplation of how bae Nate Silver is for being such a detail-oriented wonk.

GA-06 was their wet dream. Finally they had located a single congressional district in the New South that they thought they had a chance of winning by running a milquetoast Millennial neoliberal against a hardliner Gen X values MILF. And they lost it. Oops. They lost to the Jersey Slugger in Montana, too, but that was because they shut off the party campaign funds to their High Line native candidate as a fuck-you to the Berniecrats. Ain’t no Panera in Cut Bank, either. The proper bougie purveyors of coffee and sammich nicely complemented the obsession with winning over hardliner Republican dentists in Alpharetta instead of reaching out to ranchers who gladly vote for Jon Tester every six years.

Any party that actually valued meritocracy, in the sense of having what it takes not to torpedo one’s organization by being a moron, would tell anyone encouraging more outreach to Panera Democrats in suburban Atlanta to go on public assistance. They’d take the fuckheads down to the welfare office. Any sensible political leader would figure that a belief in Panera Democrats as a viable constituency could only come from the laziest, dumbest, softest, most squeamish motherfucker on earth. The Dunkin’ Doorman hangs out in a coffeeshop, too, but he doesn’t work as a political strategist. I’m writing this from a Starbucks, and I interrupted my writing to go trainspotting out on the sidewalk, twice, but I’m not a fucking idiot who has never talked to poor people. You might not want to hear the stuff I could tell you about the bitchin’ consists that I watched roll by, but I don’t pester the Democratic Party with any of that. The people who do pester the Democratic Party include incorrigibly timid little shitbirds who think they can run the ground war for a successful national political strategy from the lobby of a chain cafe that’s decorated with peak clip art.

I pick fruit commercially, and I think they’re fucking reprehensible.

Wet bulb temperature

The Pacific Northwest has been having some exceptionally awful weather for the past week. Northwestern Oregon has had record and near-record highs, and smoke is drifting in from every which way. We’ve dealt ourselves some of that which we’ve smelt, but another portion of it is coming from British Columbia, so I’d be derelict not to immediately blame it on Jamie Davis. His neighbors, too; fuckin’ eh, friends. You’re all too busy smoking that damn rock like country slumdog Rob Ford to keep the whole fucking forest from going up in a big wall of fire.

Let’s rundel in the jungle; well, that ‘s all right by, by God, that is not in the least bit all right at all, but as the traditional fishing ditty holds, take Tommy Thompson, take Scott Walker or David Clarke and some water or either Ron Johnson; take extra rations and take Sam Dotson, but plea ea ea ease, don’t forget the pole. You may have found that, dare I say, shockingly tasteless, but page view stats tell me that most of you are still here for even worse, and besides, if you’ve been paying attention, you know by now to expect nothing less of Gerry and the Heartstoppers.

Lord have Mersey upon us all. That was a mess. So is the air we literally breathe. There’s no need to bring Jian Ghomeshi down here to make us choke. In a rather expensive and cruel prank at our expense, whoever we specifically are as Americans, OPB sent reporters to Bingen and the Horse Heaven Hills to deliver soundbyte reports about how there wasn’t much to see and we might not want to breathe. Something’s already gone wrong, Kroeger. An additional something’s gotta go wrong ’cause they’ll be pestering us for money to fund that shit before long and threatening to withhold further programming, on the assumption that that would be unfortunate. Maybe if we ignore them (ooh, I’m getting a kloo, too!) they’ll eventually realize that they’re just a couple of impotent losers grandiosely addressing a rally of exclusively imaginary friends. Nah, probably not. That’s way too much humility and introspection to expect of anyone who tries to sweeten extortion threats with offers of Downton Abbey box sets.

Our federal tax dollars remain hard at work at these fine enterprises. I really should fill out and turn in the EITC paperwork that the IRS mailed me; there’s no way I’ll steward that five hundred and whatever so embarrassingly.

What this pulverized MRE pea soup has meant for the fruitboys and girls has been shorter workdays. We’ve been sent home (what is “home”?) at 11:30 every day since Tuesday. Daughter-in-Law initially told us to take Thursday off to rehydrate and “plan something fun,” but then, at Mother-in-Law’s whispering insistence (she actually whispered in front of us), she made it an optional workday. Lol they’re all optional, but sure. Oregon statute or no statute against first-degree involuntary servitude, nobody’s about to get dragged into any Kunta Kinte in chains shit around here. The second-degree involuntary servitude statute doesn’t quite get to the roots of America’s original sin, but even if MiL thinks light violations are a good idea (I have no doubt that Joe Dirtbag does), all that any tirades in furtherance of labor under duress will accomplish is less labor of any sort at a farm that is already losing good employees to KFC, Les Schwab, probably video games, whatever useless shit I keep doing in the Adirondacks, and, from what I can piece together, the Navy.

If I really needed the money and the benefits, I, too, might think it a good idea to enlist in the Navy (in the Navy!). I don’t, so here I am. KFC sounds pretty dreadful, too, although less compulsorily so. I actually think about applying to Les Schwab from time to time, since it’s reputable as fuck (I’m still getting free rotations on tires that I preemptively told the technician I didn’t believe had been bought or mounted by Les) and the store floor plans are open enough to tell that nothing obviously abusive is going on in the back of the house, but I’ll definitely be waiting until after the eclipse, which even my dad said, in so many words, will be a clusterfuck.

In the meantime, I’m getting shit done. We all have to eat, and I pick food. I actually pick more fruit than I’m supposed to pick because I sneak around to the good thick stuff when our bosses aren’t nearby to bother us about the barely marketable weak-ass shit they also want us to pick clean. It’s an ongoing learning process to grasp just how little Americans believe in the labor theory of value. For all the talk about the value of hard work, it’s curious how little some of us, nay, many of us, get paid for actually showing up and doing it. This, again, is the job where I got the 25-cent tip, the presentation of dem shine George coin. It seems that most people who are bleeding-heart or generous or whatever enough to contribute to panhandlers at rest areas cough up a paper George or three. There is, of course, a corresponding loss of dignity in sitting on ass by the shitters with a short story and equally tall tale scribbled onto a piece of cardboard.

Usually. This week, with its complete lack of MiL lectures and berry tastings and limited managerial annoyances for not picking the shitty fruit, has been usual enough, and I really don’t feel like getting into the weeds with any of the owners about how we’d all do better if we did some basic triage, got the good fruit first, and went back for the marginal leftovers if we had extra time. Not my circus, not my monkeys. I really appreciate working at a place where I can show up after I’m fully awake and leave early if I get really bushed. Sure, they had better be that flexible at the piece rates that they offer, but the alternatives in the industry include some real moral dregs, which these people definitively are not.

Yesterday was the first day I left seriously early. Sometimes I stay late, because once I’m on site and making progress I usually get really motivated, but yesterday the smoke and the water vapor from recent irrigation gave the fields that old El Centro climate, and I was struggling. I couldn’t put a finger on what was so awful about it, except that the winds were mostly calm, but MiL told me as I was leaving that DiLH had told her that the fields were really humid on account of the irrigation. Again, even though there are better ways to irrigate than their system, I’m not here to judge, because everything to do with irrigation is a gigantic pain in the ass. The game sucks, so it’s hard to blame the players. The weird thing about MiL’s comment was that the ground in the block where I’d been working had been fairly dry (I’ve gotten my socks soaked in other recently irrigated blocks), but I’d been sweating profusely. I should have recognized that it was super humid. I did recognize that it felt like a Pennsylvania summer, but I don’t think I got my brain fully turned on until after I left for the day.

My output was pretty good for only three hours’ work, but that was because I’d left some crappy fruit unpicked and gone poaching farther up the row. Far be it from me to hate myself as a player, either. You gotta do what you gotta do in this business. Statistically, what you gotta do is quit and go see what’s for sale at GameStop.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so harsh on the interior BC crackheads above. They’d be all right for this line of work. The big midcentury fruit growers around McMinnville, muh fuckin Mack, used to send buses down Burnside Avenue in the middle of the night to pick up vagrant drunks and take them out into the ranches by daybreak, in time for a full day’s harvest. Love too employ severely hungover and fatigued individuals with behavioral and substance abuse problems in jobs requiring the maneuvering and climbing of ladders.

Crack is an upper, a drug of gittin’ er done, a drug, possibly, even of optimism. I take coffee breaks in the field; it might be no less judicious for a rock friend to take a crack break. Toking lightly on the rock might be the equivalent of my taking a few sips at a time these days instead of drinking the whole damn grande in half an hour, like I did back when I was an idiot about that shit.

I’m not trying to abet crack use. I do not reify an interior BC culture of buying home baking supplies from the Boston Irish mob and/or the RCMP and baking a buddy some crack. This culture is already in place. What I’m saying is that we might as well put those who are already a part of it to good use as fruitfolk if they don’t look like they’ll inevitably destroy the plants they’ve been assigned to strip. We wouldn’t want to hire Psychotarp or Mixups in my Mind to pick fruit while high on crack. We wouldn’t want to hire them to do anything at all while sober. Psychotarp once dug a new hole for the outhouse without botching the job. I think Joe Dirtbag gave him permission to dig the new hole just to stop the requests for permission to dig a shitter pit. There were hygienic considerations in favor of a new hole, and in favor of not having everyone shit into the same hole in the ground, but JD obviously didn’t have any of these in mind.

For those whose problem is narrowly limited to doing better on crack than not on crack, to the exclusion of over-the-top, out-of-control psychosis, and certainly for those whose problem is limited to enjoying some crack, we really shouldn’t be so concerned about sniffing out those whom the rock is cooking. The workforce won’t magically become functional and healthy on account of their absence from it; we’re trying that already. The Mack Attack Squad didn’t need drugs to be a nightmare for its colleagues.

Crack, intersectional with a desire to make enough money to buy some more crack, might be what it takes to motivate some crackers (heh) to come out and do the jobs that the Mexicans don’t want. I’m pretty sure that what we’ve been asked to do gleaning crap fruit without no bonus and no minimum wage is something the Mexicans don’t want. If there’s a labor shortage that the sober won’t fill (video games) or can’t fill (area lodging prices relative to cash on hand), skid row might have some surplus labor available that either has a drinking schedule consistent with day-shift labor or cherishes its uppers. These marginally attached are already in the labor market; it’s just that they’re on System D. They’re already gutting rental properties for slumlords for pennies on the dollar. Bringing them onto the payrolls somehow would be worthwhile, but our policymakers aren’t thinking that coherently. These fuckers are already chargeable, so we might as well get some recharge from them when we can, even if they’d rather be paid in kind–or in da kine, da kine being, if you can believe it, crack.

No, I don’t want anyone dying from overdoses in the fields. I also don’t want some hungover dipshit falling off a ladder.

Being all about that base works, too. Sarah Palin has what it takes to take a powdered pick-me-up and pick some damn fruit. Anthony Scaramucci may. Donald Trump is too lazy and hey wanna ride bikes to do the job. So was the ADHD spazz kid from two years ago. That’s what we get for hiring a sober Christian workforce. 

But don’t go around thinking that any powder will do. Powdermilk Biscuits never got anyone’s ass out of bed.

Arendt you glad you didn’t go to Sidwell Friends?

The Clintons, that interminably festering boil on the ass of the Democratic Party, are oozing pus again. There’s nothing novel about this condition, but sometimes the discharge is particularly vile, and Chelsea’s beef with Corey Robin over the meaning of Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem” is one of those times. Chelsea truly rounds out Billary into an unholy trinity of shit. I used to want to give her the benefit of the doubt as an unfortunate child who didn’t ask to be born into that mess, but she’s past the age of moral culpability and has not been acquitting herself well. (Her parents never have a problem acquitting themselves of all charges.)

The details of her beef with Corey Robin are Extremely Online, a status which at this time of year interferes with my being Extremely Picking Fruit (try it sometime; done right, it’s true soulcraft), but the gist is that an ex-client who had aged out of an LGBT social services facility in Phoenix and been carrying an intense personal grudge against the facility set fire to the building, and Chelsea went bottomfeeding for political points by describing this incident as an example of the banality of evil. Robin then told her that she had gotten Hannah Arendt and her boy Eichmann all wrong, provoking Chelsea into a passive-aggressive snit about how grateful she was to have “read Hannah Arendt at Sidwell and Stanford.” Robin kept after her, point by specific point, about how exactly she had misread Arendt’s assessment of Eichmann’s psyche, and Chelsea, the eminently educated woman, kept basically making a bunch of shit up to conform a politically exploitable arson in a state that her mother had tried to win to her bullshit PR about the banality of evil.

Chelsea and Hillary Clinton are everything that workaday Americans loath and distrust about the college-educated and the university as a broad institution. (Bill, a former Rhodes Scholar, has a special charm that he has long used to strategically play down his own academic background.) Ordinary people, including informed and educated ones, very rightly chafe at being lectured by sanctimonious, bumptious, graceless idiots who constantly namedrop their own alma maters and can’t hide their contempt of everyone else for being mentally retarded. If any normal (eh, abnormal) private citizen dove into a Union-Tribune comment thread to accuse Jim DiMaggio of being the East County Eichmann, others on the thread would go, dude, what the fuck. Chelsea got dudewhatthefucked, but politely so, by a D-Lister who dwarfs her intellectually, and it got her sore. She didn’t just demonstrate sore loserdom, which Americans don’t admire; she was a sore, evasive loser in a pissing match that she had started over a famous piece of writing that she claimed to have read but clearly didn’t grasp in a desperate effort to shoehorn it into a bogus campaigning narrative that she was using in a craven effort to pander to a narrow identitarian constituency, and in the course of this gross outburst she made sure to brag about what fancy schools  she had attended.

This woman is the fucking platonic ideal of the arrogant, overbearing elite liberal. It’s goddamn unbelievable. As they say on the Yorkville-Rochester corridor, Hannah Arendt has John Dennis Diddly to do with where a rich bitch went to school. The Heartland: one cannot help but be moved to sing a song about it! That didn’t have anything to do with anything worth discussing right now, either, but it wasn’t well, well, herpes dederpes, I went to a prep school, bitch. I take that back: depending on political leanings and trust in incumbent institutions and those operating them, it may have had something to do with certain pizzerias. John Podesta: now there’s a gent you can trust.

Any public library could provide a customer with Hannah Arendt’s publications by some medium or other, but Chelsea isn’t the kind of peon who would condescend to use a library or to show a working laywoman’s understanding of anything that Arendt had written. Being mentally ill, angry, and impulsive enough to burn down a rec center because one is having a mad is definitely not Eichmann. The whole point of “Eichmann in Jerusalem” was that Adolf Eichmann was an unnervingly civil and bloodless dork who still managed to orchestrate atrocities. He was antipodal to Jesus Christ motherfucker I’m motherfucking pissed and I’ma go burn some fucking shit down. Most people who have heard of him are aware of this.

Chelsea Clinton is not. This ignorance would embarrass a normal person who values knowledge and wisdom, but Chelsea isn’t that, either. She’s an obscenely wealthy power player, a multimillionaire with the values and business practices of a billionaire. It’s classic for billionaires to resent their intellectual superiors and take offense at any suggestion that they are not intellectual heavyweights themselves. Chelsea didn’t sleep in my car last night; I did. Money can buy a person schooling, it can buy a person degrees, but it can’t buy a person a true education or the intellectual curiosity necessary to pursue one. As Det. Juliet O’Hara put it, guys. Guys. This isn’t working out. I can teach you the moves, but I cannot make you feel the crunk. The crunk has to come from inside, from right here. Chelsea is one who has never felt the crunk. All it takes to outshine that bitch intellectually is to stay up until 1:30 watching the nightly Psych rerun on Ion. (No, I am not Extremely Television enough to know whether there’s just the one episode per night; I am Extremely Television enough to be embarrassed about what I do know about Ion’s programming.) Watching Psych is like drinking from a fire hose, so I haven’t watched it much, but it’s striking that any episode at random contains more observation, truth, wisdom, and beauty than Chelsea Clinton has visibly achieved in her entire life, and that’s just some slapstick bullshit about a pineapple enthusiast hanger-on at the Santa Barbara Police Department who’s always getting in the way of the detectives.

The bar is low for our Chelsea. So has it always been. If she had the raw academic merit for admission to Stanford, I’m John Sutter. NBC? I’m Walter Cronkite. Being Chelsea Clinton and getting places because of who one’s parents are, well, I’ll be a sour, sonorous old bastard, but that’s the way it is. The Russert boy, too. Could be something crooked in that joint.

For a second-generation sworn meritocrat, it must be scandalous and humiliating to realize that one’s earned place in the Darwinian neoliberal order would be as a Dickensian trash-scavenging bum on the Bowery or a poor house slave. (Homegirl does not look capable of whoring her way up to a better life.) But this gloss makes the bold assumption that Chelsea is self-aware enough to notice such things. We can tell that she’s an intellectual midget, but I don’t entirely know what to make of her psyche. If she feels guilt, she certainly doesn’t show it, but being brought up in a family like her own, she didn’t have to go native to get to that degraded point. Both of her parents have a shocking lack of humanity. Her father, the one who flew back to Arkansas to give Ricky Ray Rector the opportunity to save his last dessert for afterwards, is smooth enough to hide his coldness; her mother, the failed presidential candidate whose time never came, famously is not.

Being the faildaughter of yuppies sucks; I have enough personal experience along similar lines to know it. Being the public faildaughter of A-List yuppies is even worse. Chelsea Clinton was thrown into a truly unenviable position the likes of which can be fully understood only by royalty. I never expected great leadership of her. Still, I’m disturbed that she doesn’t look uncomfortable with the arrangement. A decent person who understands the dynamics at play and what’s destructive about them would look pained. Chelsea looks smug.

She IS smug. Her understanding of formal education is that hers, being fancy, magically reified her life of the mind. She read Arendt at Sidwell and Stanford. That’s what she thinks of her own education. Her degrees are weapons that she can use to pwn academics on Twitter. They’re fnords that she can use to insult people who know what the hell they’re talking about and lord it over them with her own majesty. She expects to awe those around her into silence and deference with this crappy shtick. Her family is surrounded with the sorts of grotesque social climbers who respond positively in the hope of basking in and profiting from their glory. The Extremely Online community contains many who don’t, insolent citizens with the nerve to ask who bitch this is, and to answer their own question. They’re all BernieBros, of course. They’re all misogynists.

Chelsea Clinton is exactly why I hate college as an institution. People like her, although most of them much poorer and all of them less influential, have poisoned the social and institutional culture of my alma mater. Bill Durden catered to them because they have money and are the easiest to persuade to part with a portion of it in the interest of mutual aggrandizement. Selling a school’s soul in the process was an unfortunate but necessary side effect. Nah, these fuckers aren’t that engaged with the world. They don’t think that deeply. It doesn’t occur to them that there’s anything such Faustian bargain to be made or refused. They can’t imagine a world in which whoring an entire school out to the nearest shithead with more money than class, over whatever objections the scrupulous voice, isn’t worthy and respectable. They want to be quality, so they’re just trying to surround themselves with quality. This isn’t a detestable game whose players they still love; they’re obsessed with the game itself because it’s structured for them to win it.

These fuckwads may be the most glaring single source of conflict in academia, especially at schools that aren’t athletic powerhouses. The grope and the perv of our Lord’s Servant Gerald be with you always. They bring the cult bullshit to the table. There are other students who come to college to study, to discover existential truths, to learn trades or professions, to prepare themselves for graduate or professional school, to eat drink and be merry, to get laid, to find spouses (Grove City is really out front with the promises of sex), or to schmooze. These constituencies can produce clashes between philistines, academic purists, and revealed Thaddeus Russell acolytes, but they aren’t directly at cross purposes and, absent powerfully inflammatory influences, can often reach some accommodation or even cultural synergy. The hardcore social climbers are the ones who charge in and fuck up whatever everyone else has been pursuing or achieving. They’re the ones who turn everything into a do-or-die zero-sum competition that they’re hellbent on winning, no matter what it takes and whom it destroys. An obsession with athletic supremacy can do the trick (the Ivy League is an athletic conference, and again, the grope and the perv….); if that doesn’t seem appropriate, an obsession with academic supremacy, as determined by meaningless, intellectually embarrassing proclamations of supremacy, is the way to go.

Hence Chelsea again. The point of her attendance at Stanford wasn’t to develop the clarity and vigor of mind to distinguish herself from a BA in communications from Shippensburg; it was to demonstrate that she is of the class that goes to Stanford, the class to which everyone else must listen and defer.

Oleander, growing outside her door; throw her into the damn river and see where she washes up. Now that’s an Outward Bound curriculum that I’ll endorse. The breakfast garbage that they throw out in Troy might contain something that’s still worth fishing out, which is more than I can say about the Clintons. They’re the last ones to play by the rules they impose on the rest of us, or to have any decorum. As Anthony Scaramucci might say, Hillary and Chelsea are obsessed with licking their own twats while *Colin Powell, ever the officer and gentleman* Bill is up in Chappaqua, dicking bimbos. The Big Dog doesn’t have the rhetorical polish that he once had; he and Hillary are still having that conversation, including the parts about how she is this close to throwing this lamp at him again if he keeps cheating on her.

Yes, we’ve reached the point at which Steve Bannon is one of the classier and better put-together ones. I assume the Mooch was annoyed with him for talking to bullshitters about real policy that they couldn’t particularly follow. He’s been memed as the Sheriff of Sucking My Own Cock, but he has nothing on Chelsea Clinton as the Headmistress of Eating My Own Box. Like dogs, politicians do these things because they can.

Apology tour

First Daughter-in-Law, then Daughter-in-Law’s Husband (because we can’t come up with a retarded acronym if we don’t first come up with a retarded full designation), and now Mother-in-Law have all approached me to apologize for MiL’s lecture and berry tasting last week. DiLH seems to be by far the most cynical member of the owning family, so his apology had an implicit WTF Mom air about it. DiL is exceptionally matter-of-fact and professional when young children aren’t around, and so was her apology to me over the phone.

MiL’s apology was, not at all surprisingly, a rather more shambling, roundabout, half contrite, half self-exculpatory effort. Many people, I suppose, would have been offended, but Mother-in-Law, consistent with OPB and KLCC broadcasting standards, likes to think out loud (TM) (fam, some of y’all have no idea how bizarre Oregon is), and I never expect her thoughts to be the most clearheaded and functional. I’ve never detected anything deeply or abidingly malicious or manipulative about her; like her relatives, she seems to be a fundamentally decent person. To understand this, it’s important to set aside the sub-minimum-wage shit and the piece rate lowballing; these people are all quite morally grounded in spite of their ongoing exposure to some really fucking sketchy intersecting business, social, and religious cultures. A twenty-five-cent tip is intrinsically pretty WTF, which is why it is dem shine George coin, but we’re hopelessly to understand this situation by looking at it intrinsically. From an extrinsic perspective, i.e., with some context, dem shine George coin is the result of some valid, if disappointing, math. It’s the bottom line, a bottom line that I promptly regifted at Starbucks. I told a middle-aged Denny’s host about it later that night, and I don’t think it really registered with him that I was not joking and do in fact work at a place where that kind of thing happens and is normal.

Mother-in-Law is a hot mess, but this afternoon she was a mostly functional, thoughtful, non-projectile, borderline-calm hot mess, and in my book that’s enough. (It may not be a book that you’d ever want to read, but that’s your business. BTW, how’re y’all enjoying Dubai Porta Potty?) From most people, an apology like that would bewilder and annoy me, but from MiL, anything shy of a full Manchego Fuck Yourself is low-salt enough for me. The idea that anything about her tirade last week was excusable or reasonable is problematic, but Mother-in-Law recognizing that it was not something to do again and approaching me to apologize for it in a fashion that only she can pull off means that she isn’t currently yelling at anyone, and that’s the real goal there. DiL and, I infer, DiLH had a Come to Jesus talk or two with her about her lecture series and other, off-the-cuff comments that the staff might find off-putting, and she’d clearly gotten the message, so I didn’t mind that her way of expressing contrition and understanding would have been fucking nuts coming from anyone else.

The self-exculpatory part of MiL’s apology was an explanation that she had directed the tirade at the new pickers, not at me, and that she’d been frustrated with the low quality of the fruit and didn’t know how else to address her objections and teach the pickers how to improve their work. I suggested that she and the other owners give us more guidance while we’re out in the field, i.e., more orientation and training. I can’t remember how I phrased it, but she seemed really receptive and eager to avoid repeats of the forcible berry tasting, especially ones that alienated me. I didn’t mind that she was misinterpreting my objections to her lecture (I don’t like watching anyone being mistreated by management, period) or that she might relapse at some point. Life is a journey, a highway, we might say, and Mother-in-Law was willing to embark on it. In that context, I was not about to do anything that I thought might humiliate her. Wow Much martyrs Such penitent Many kyrie Where sandal Omg santiago de compostela Very confesh.

If life is in fact a highway, we might call this a journey on the Hershey Highway. As a former Hersheypark employee, I’ve inevitably been asked if I’ve been on the Hershey Highway. I can’t screen such losers out of my life entirely, and yes, some of them really are losers. Advisably or not, I’ve usually answered that straight with some story about actual roads that I’ve driven to Hershey, including the 28th Division Highway. I’m sure that was a better experience than serving in the goddamn 28th Division. So is the berry farm. MiL overdoing the command-and-control shit was a problem, but she’s simmered down again.

I don’t want to write a fucking treatise on forgiveness. Forgiveness. Even if, even if. I’d rather write Doge memes that are probably crappier than I think they are on the amount of sleep that I’ve been getting. At least I know that I’ve heard dumber than that by a long shot from colleagues, even today, so I’m not rooting around at the bottom of the barrel yet. Even with the Ditzney Princess done for the season, I picked a really good day to bring a new runner’s radio to work today. “Let It Be” never sounded so good, let alone with such poor reception. Thanks, Freddy.

In fairness, no one got quite as unrelentingly grating as “Fortunately/Unfortunately.” 35 is presumably too old to be working for nowhere close to minimum wage around a frank child who sings a one-line song about a rainbow dragon or some shit for fifteen minutes straight, but I’ve worked with worse. Hell, I’ve worked with worse than the Ditzney Princess. There are guys in the ginger-intersectional non-White community in McMinnville who make Mixups in my Mind’s story about the rotisserie chicken fight sound like Pope Francis saying compline and Psychotarp’s blogging sound like a Victor Davis Hanson essay series. There’s a threshold beyond which sexual and scatological vulgarity stops being titillating, witty, entertaining, or in any other way interesting, and these likely as not recently felonious losers from Newberg and what our one crew boss called Mack (WTF?) leave it in the dust. There’s some bad, bad shit in this industry. The In-Laws don’t come close to plumbing its depths.

Don’t believe that over-the-top evangelical piety is good for nothing. It keeps the Mack Attack shitheads off my current crew, and that’s above rubies. I can still come over here after hours to swear and curse and sputter. That’s the thing: I may sound like one of the great American crudities in these pages, but I’m pretty fucking diplomatic and nonconfrontational in meatspace. *Most Neo-Victorian Voice* Yats! Yats! Fuck the EU! Yats! *Cable over; burn upon reading, or if you need some fireplace kindling.*

I have standards. They aren’t very high standards, but not working with out-of-control Chads who show no common manners all the live-long day is one. The Ditzney Princess, of course, was another example of low standards. I assume that “new pickers” was at least in part a euphemism for her, but as I’ve speculated before, harshing a family brat’s mellow might have been a ready source of disharmony at reunions.

That said, it’s moot now as a day-to-day personnel consideration. MiL has gotten a grip, and the Ditzney Princess has retired to a summer schedule that, by her own description, is devoted mainly to hanging out and not at all to anything useful to society. Funyuns continue to outsell Responsibilityuns. Daughter-in-Law told us today that she’d like to have us pick on Monday but that we may take the midweek off on account of the heat, so we might as well do something fun. One of the pickers said that hanging out on the couch would be fun. Some would call this youthful innocence; I call it the blather of a damn fool, but I wasn’t in the mood to kill a hopeful young man’s vibe. If funemployment is in the cards for him, he’ll learn soon enough.

Some of these kids don’t know how good they’ve got it. We’re living the dream. I am, at least. When push comes to shove and there’s no acute bullshit going down, we’re getting paid to do the work that “everyone” “knows” Americans won’t do. We don’t have anyone like Joe Dirtbag around to get in our way, not pay us, bring shitheads and nutty fuckers onto the property to get further in the way, and act out his personality disorders. The Mack Attack is confined to Mack. Kurt Ballman gets paid much more to deal with James “Mack the Pipe” Mack than we get paid for not dealing with him, but in any interpersonal sense, the joke’s on him for being the one who has to figure out that some oppositional-defiant wigger was wandering around the East End of Cincinnati brandishing a different length of pipe. As one does. Seriously, that motherfucker could have ended up on one of my crews in the bad parts of the valley. Twenty-dollar blowjobs from majorly thick bitches are far from the worst thing going down in Over-the-Rhine and/or Sweet Home.

Heh. I said “going down.” Giggity. I’ve also recently been in the Safeway in Stayton. Definitely not giggity. There were exceptions, but some exceptions prove the rule. There really are things that are wrong with flyover country, and one gets the feeling sometimes that it isn’t just poverty. Sam Dotson and Julia Pearson are no skinnier, but, well, look at them, and then go to Safeway. There’s a community bulletin board in the hallway near the bathrooms, and some redneck kid of ten or eleven was hiring himself out for help doing anything so that he could earn money for a dirt bike. Love too have legally unemployable minors operate power equipment on my property for cash under the table. This was in Safeway, so it wasn’t full Deliverance. I don’t set foot in Grocery Outlet these days. I have reasons. It’s never the Muppets from Gross Out’s commercials that die in an apartment fire in Northeast Portland because some Chad with a temper problem had to douse his off-again, on-again girlfriend’s couch with gasoline and set it on fire.

I drove by the state prisons just east of Salem later that evening. Safeway is a good place for cheap Chinese takeout. It’s also an excellent regular pilgrimage site for anyone who doesn’t want his entire life to turn into a Nickelback musical. I don’t want to go poor-shaming here, but there really is something wrong with Stayton. I’ve spent a fair amount of time around working-class neighborhoods in Northeast Salem, and they just don’t have that gee, maybe you shouldn’t be getting your kid a dirt bike if you’re so damn broke vibe. The built environment there is horrific, but Fat Sammy, never one to be out of place at a Chinese takeout joint, would fit in at the Safeway at Lancaster and Silverton.

I seek out ambient exposure to people who aren’t totally self-defeating losers, so I notice these things. If you want to be quality, surround yourself with quality. By the way, I am not shaming Sam Dotson for being fat; I’m meming him for being fat. I’m a bit of a thicky myself. There are some thick, thick Nordic bitches and Nordic-influenced fellow-travelers around Seattle, too, but they have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes them definitively not losers. Plus-sized or not, you might as well go Bigfoot hunting if you expect to find anyone of the sort in Stayton.

There’s some bleak shit out here in the provinces. Well, fuck, what do I mean, “here?” I’m writing this in West Salem. Far be it from me not to get out of Dodge the minute I’m done with work. That’s the only reason I stop in most of these country-ass dumps: fruitboy stuff. Canning is work, too, but if I’m cleaning up after rednecks in Deliverance country, I do that after driven away from their roadside constellations of Keystone and Red Bull cans. I doesn’t lives here, Mr. O’Rourke. Someone else can come in instead.

Strangers who want me to commit suicide and other internet treasures

One of the pseudonymous hotheads in the Gin and Tacos comment threads, who goes by Democommie, wants me to eat my gun already and end my own misery because I have the nerve to partially defend Donald Trump. LOL. I have no idea who Democommie is in real life, so after the very brief sting of realizing that some stranger wants me specifically to off myself (because I’m not totally insensate and public wishes for my suicide are a first), I realized that he (?) is just another angry Hillbot asswipe whose rash rhetoric won’t do the Democratic Party any good. He’s free to pursue his own (un)happiness as a Michelle Carter wannabe to his heart’s (dis)content; I definitely ain’t offing myself because some Never-Trumper is flaming me on a third-party platform.

Neither is anyone from the hardcore shitlord army; those guys (and a few girls) have a solid enough track record as street fighters to show that they won’t be directing their own anger inward. They aren’t terminally despondent hikikomori dorks; neither am I, for that matter, regardless of what BasenjiBrian, aka Brian M (whose identity I do know), thinks of my mental state based exclusively on my writing.

There’s a lot to unpack here. As the internet’s apparent sole caretaker of the sexy male nurse Lynn Majors meme, I’ve never thought that I came across as taking myself awfully seriously in these pages. On that subject, I must take the opportunity to wish Elizabeth Wettlaufer the happiest of Canada Days and recommend that all in her home and native land look up Meatless Muscle on Instagram for vegetarian grilling ideas, electric and otherwise, or whatever the fuck else that erstwhile horse friend is entrepreneuring these days. God, him again? You betcha. As Robert Dziekanski said, you’re literally killing me, biggie! I’m literally dying over here!

If you really expected that to have anything to do with anything else here, you’re free to go find something else to read. This shit can be hard enough to write, so I’m definitely not energetic enough to edit it for anything more than obvious typos. Canada has made it to 150, mostly without my input, and I’m still best known on the internet for a sloppy hot take on international rent girls being beshat for money by psychopathic oil failsons, so comparisons of Northside Juice and Hitler as fellow vegetarian health cult hoteps are actually an improvement. As they say about sex in Maine, it’s all relative. And no, Vermonters aren’t that refined; that isn’t something I learned from my New Yorkers.

One of the things that I find sympathetic about Donald Trump is that he keeps getting diagnosed by politically motivated strangers as a malignant narcissist unique to modern American politics based solely on his public obnoxiousness. We’ve got a president here who came up through reality television and other trashy entertainment platform easily shocking the hell out of those sheltered elements of the electorate, and more importantly the Beltway newsie hive, who basically go to church on C-SPAN and are totally ignorant of kayfabe. Trump is the holy roller who shows up at High Anglican Eucharist speaking in tongues and lifting his arms haphazardly in various directions for reasons known only to himself.

The disanalogy in this analogy, as one of my cradle Southern Baptist friends in college liked to explain these things, is that the liturgical forms of the Anglican Church are ordered to the defense of defensible virtues, while the liturgical forms of Congress, the White House, and the mainstream media are ordered towards the defense of indefensible crookedness, idolatry, psychopathy, hypocrisy, and other vice and all-around happy horseshit. I had several college friends who left the Southern Baptist Church and ended up either Catholic or Orthodox because the latter churches seemed more grounded and less crazypants. I don’t doubt their sincerity at all. I very much doubt the sincerity of the political class in its outrage over Trump’s desecration of their holy institutions. That’s classic, pure idolatry. Tricky Dick wandering around the White House in an alcoholic haze muttering “Christ” all night was never so profane.

The political class is upset with Trump because he doesn’t participate in their conceit that they’re all in their business for holy and worthy ends. Fundamentally, they’re angry with him because he’s too honest. How the hell can it be argued that Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi are public-spirited, or even decent? The only way to do that is to set the terms of debate so narrowly and to cherry-pick deemed fit for polite society so painstakingly that no one orbiting them has the courage to cry foul. Trump got through by publicly calling their gatekeepers a bunch of phonies, and now the gatekeepers and the old guard behind the gates are mightily butthurt, not to mention more than a bit scared. They’re all worked up because they aren’t able to enforce their usual rules anymore. They don’t like being bypassed by a president who used alternate channels to successfully steamroll a bunch of allegedly serious establishment Republicans and then a Very Serious establishment Democrat. They’re furious that a rabble they didn’t invite to the party crashed it anyway. Even the Democrats in this incestuous world would rather defend the honor of an insidious dipshit like Jeb! Bush (please clap), who plays nicely in their little sandbox, than be aboveboard in their dealings with Donald Trump, or with Bernie Sanders, for that matter. They can’t fucking stand politicians who pipe up impertinently on behalf of ordinary Americans.

I’m sure I’ll stir up more bitching about how Trump is obviously a charlatan and an opportunist and a fraud and I’m a fool to think otherwise and to impute any common sense to his working-class voters. BFD. Hillbots gonna Hillbot. I can’t stop that bullshit. Many of them are really salty over the swing voters who decided that Trump, not Clinton, was the lesser of two evils last year. These voters were a small part of Trump’s base but enough to swing an adequate swath of Appalachia and the Midwest in his favor. The Chrisley Country McMansion reactionaries, MAGA hat shitlord meatheads, Bannonite creeps, and the like weren’t enough to overcome Hillary’s national popular vote advantage on their own. The butthurt over the Electoral College is ridiculous this time around; we’ve been dealing with it for our entire national history, and in this case it flipped the election from the candidate who doubled down on the megalopolitan majority to the one who didn’t alienate the forsaken provincial interior.

The Democrats have only had since, what, 1789 to work out a strategy to overcome this federal hurdle, but wouldn’t you know it, they goofed. They just had to run the Seven Sisters Yalie feminazi from the Clurb who inflicted her political marriage to the Arkansas cryptodirtbag on the nation and now can’t help herself when a disparaging thought about Appalachians flits into her mind. The Democrats just don’t get it. They’ve got Illinois locked down because they’ve got Chicagoland. They’ve got New England locked down; the worst Paul LePage and his peeps can do is flip the Second Congressional District of Maine. Virginia is yuppified enough on account of Washington’s ongoing metastasis to be safely blue or the next thing to it, North Carolina is a swing state on account of Charlotte and the Research Triangle, and enough of a yuppie flood into the Atlanta Metroplex (combined with enough horse sense not to drive the black working class into Republican arms, which is plausible but not at all a given) may break the Republican stranglehold on Georgia before long.

The problem is, well, everything else. The Dems turned the Georgia Sixth into a consultant feeding frenzy after leaving their House nominee in Montana to fend for himself; if their goal is to win races, they were morons to abandon a swing state like Montana and double down on Chrisleyan bougies in Alpharetta, but if the goal was to fin-dom working stiffs on the High Plains, depriving native High Liner Rob Quist of the money and the cash and the signal boost makes all too much sense. The big push to win over Pennsylvania’s Main Line Republicans made sense for anyone totally ignorant of those parts of Pennsylvania lying between Exton and the Pittsburgh city limits. In 2016, MAGA Chads driving Erasmus and Rebecca to the polls in Intercourse ended up making an ass out of Ed Rendell. The Amish didn’t just pray Republican last year. Oops. Also, Hazleton and shit. Another oops. You guys do realize that Dunder Mifflin is made up and that there are Scrantonians who are out of work and trying to figure out how the hell Steamtown and Montage Mountain are going to make up for an anthracite industry that isn’t doing so well, right? Nah, who’m I kidding?

I’m not pulling it all out of my ass here. Say what you will, but I spent my teens and early twenties in Pennsylvania, and at least two of my lifelong Pennsylvania Republican friends voted against Trump last year. One is a Main Line type who very reluctantly voted for Clinton as the lesser of two evils (“I voted for Clinton and immediately felt bad about it”). The other is a scion of minor rural elites in flyover country who regularly bow-hunts for deer; he voted for Marco Rubio in the primary, as best he can remember (no, he isn’t fogging me; again, speculate however the fuck floridly you like if you think I’m full of shit), and then for Gary Johnson in the general, in spite of Johnson’s goofiness (he was most dismayed by “What is Aleppo?”). Neither of these guys cared for Trump; the Main Liner told me over the summer that his only hope was for the Republican Party to rescind Trump’s nomination, and the flyover hunter called Trump a fraud upon the Party, by which he meant a usurper who had hacked the process to shut out the movement and religious conservative parts of the base.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was relieved when Trump won the presidency, and I’m still unapologetically relieved because I still think Clinton–nay, the Clintons and Clintonworld, the whole sordid machine–had some nasty surprises in store for us. Flaming me as a mentally ill idiot won’t win me over, but it’s the done thing in Clintonworld these days, so surely that cup will continue to run over. That said, I was especially impressed that Trump carried Pennsylvania, even before I learned that either of these Republican friends of mine had voted against him. There are plenty of ugly, scary reactionaries salted around more places than you’d have the energy to look in the Midstate (a constituency that I decisively do NOT romanticize, having grown up in its midst), quite a few farmers and other rural entrepreneurial types with strong libertarian leanings (usually right-libertarian, making this group MUCH more pleasant and less scary than the reactionaries), and working stiffs in towns for whom Trump’s message cut across the usual political divides. Clinton didn’t have a prayer with any of these constituencies. Her chance to win Pennsylvania was by boosting turnout in a few key areas: Philadelphia and nearby counties, Pittsburgh and a few heavily Democratic nearby mill towns, Erie, and, less obviously to most outsiders, in urbanized parts of Lancaster and Dauphin Counties. York and Centre Counties might have been viable places to solidify a win, too, although I don’t have a good enough sense to say for sure.

This was a difficult environment for both Clinton and Trump, but feasible for whichever of them ran the more competent campaign. The Hillbots were the ones who flipped their shit over a SEPTA strike on the eve of the general election, failed to get Philadelphians out to the polls even after the strike ended, and choked across Pennsyltucky. MAGA Nation were the ones who won over hundreds of thousands of union Democrats and their descendants in both coal countries and got the Stoltzfuses over to the polling place if the horses weren’t up to it, even getting an occasional Amishman to pose, beaming ear to ear, for a commemorative portrait.

Did the Amish vote against Clinton because they’re patriarchal sexists? Maybe. I’ve never grokked the Amish, and I see no reason to start trying now just because they may have provided the electoral margin that sank a presidential candidate who scared the hell out of me. They live peaceably in their enclaves and get along with us English just fine when they visit us. The more pertinent point is that they were another traditionally low-turnout constituency that Trump motivated to actually show up and vote, and in an overall low-turnout election, Trump didn’t have to turn out very many voters to flip a critical mass of forsaken, troubled interior states in his favor.

I don’t feel like reiterating everything that frightened me about Hillary Clinton, but the prospect of her starting a nuclear war with Russia seemed frightening enough. For that reason alone, my lesser-of-two-evils vote would have been for Trump. If you don’t like it, suck on it. James Howard Kunstler is on to something when he describes Hillary as “demonic, and I mean that pretty literally.” One of the striking things about 2016-17 has been hearing angry, desperate, raging slurs directed at Trump that seem at least as apt about Clinton. Trump was not being contrasted to a normal opponent. He’s a kayfabe schmuck, so, as with Ronald Reagan, there may be some blurring of the lines between person and persona. She repeatedly came across as genuinely, no-joke deranged and nuts, and she was known to be surrounded by bellicose aides who had a recent history of helping her stir up trouble overseas. The Democrats had trouble convincing voters that they were the party of normality and stability because they insisted on running a candidate who appeared extremely abnormal and unstable.

It’s hard to put it any more bluntly. If the Democrats wanted my vote, they should have run a different candidate. Full stop. That woman is not hated and distrusted just because some assholes like Rush Limbaugh pursued a radio beef with her. I’ve never cared for Rush. I got to Clintonphobia on my damn own. While I’m at it, I should mention that the bloom is off Bill and Chelsea’s roses as far as I’m concerned, too. It’s past time for that entire lineage to do the decent thing for once and retire permanently from public life. Nevertheless, they persist (TM), so it’s up to us to retire them.

So, yes, I regarded and still regard Trump as the less belligerent, less crazy, less scary of these two candidates. The idea that he’s bonkers because he made fun of Mika Brzezinski for supposedly having looked like shit after a face lift is ridiculous, and the idea that his Twitter attack on her, an influence-peddling public figure of no particular use to society, is insulting. It’s disgusting that our political class has gotten to the point at which it finds the behurtment of Mika and Joe’s feels more unconscionable than the drone assassination of US citizens and their US citizen minor children for international Wahhabi trash talk. If that’s us, we hardly have a moral compass left to defend.

In the end, I was #WithHer last year, although, as He would have put it, it depended on what the meaning of “her” was. My meaning of “her,” of course, was Jill Stein. That this provokes Never-Trumpers either to apoplexy or to condescension of me as a Californian who could afford to throw his vote away is fucking pathetic. Again, my California residency spared them yet another vote for Trump, a civic truth upon which they are cordially invited to suck.

I realize that I’m a broken record about how none of us who couldn’t countenance Hillary were under any obligation to vote for her, but Hillz and her bots started spinning around on that tray table first. It gets hard to imagine that we’ll ever hear the end of it.

There’s a real myopia that has set in on the Hillbots concerning the nature of the presidency. A lot of the furor at Trump and his voters (and, in my case, his not awfully enthusiastic defenders) amounts to OMG you can’t possibly support him he’s a fucking prick. In total isolation from context this makes some sense, but I do context, so let’s have some. The Clintons, and Hillary in particular, are reputed to be much, much worse to the help, and I fucking despise the idea of Secret Service agents’ jobs being any tougher than they must be by their very nature, so if the stories about the yelling fits and the refuges behind the curtains are true, yeah, she’s a cunt. That certainly sounds in character just looking at her and listening to her. The Donald, by contrast, seems like one to treat the help fairly well for a rich guy and in particular to respect the Secret Service for being all hotep and shit.

To the extent that temperament and private morals are relevant considerations in picking a president, these are valid considerations (and a matter of individual voters’ personal judgment, except for the furious, meddlesome scolds that Hillary so attracts, for whom it’s a matter of their own superior judgment overriding everyone else’s). But I wasn’t voting on the basis of whom I’d most like to have over to my shore house, and not just because I don’t have a shore house. I was voting for a president. I didn’t buy the freakout out about how King Bigly was going to get us into WWIII just because he’s so vain, he probably thinks this song is about him, but We Came, We Saw, He Died wasn’t. We’ve had psychopathic presidents in the nuclear age (many such cases, including Cheney with his boy-king George II), narcissists (Obama, Bill Clinton), an alt-factual (Reagan), and at least one paranoid drunk (Nixon), but we’ve had only two nuclear strikes, and they were unreciprocated because they were irreciprocable. As far as competency is concerned, we’ve survived His Vigor’s secret lack of that Kennedyesque vigga, with media and medical assistance in the coverup, and Reagan’s open-secret failure to look like he knew where the fuck he was from minute to minute on national television, no less assisted by a media class that either couldn’t or wouldn’t recognize that he was sundowning during a reelection debate and likely was mentally incompetent.

The federal government’s continuity through all that horseshit and the extended Nixon agonistes stuff tells me that it isn’t about to go down in a ball of fire just because the current president is a huge (yuge!) television blowhard. Ronald Reagan had a much broader range as an actor than Donald Trump has, so he was probably more skilled at hiding his minor episodes of dementia than Trump is at hiding anything. The insistence that his rudeness is evidence of disinhibition is politically motivated bullshit: he has deliberately been like that for his entire public life. Undignified? Sure, but dignity was never the Donald’s thang.

It’s conceivable that he’ll turn into the sort of dementia ward patient who throws his feces at staff in fits of distress while he’s still in office, but let’s recall the first lady who is reputed to have thrown a lamp at her husband in a fit of rage when she wasn’t yet fifty: one Hillary Rodham Clinton. The behind-the-scenes stories from the help that circulate about that woman are as credible as anything I’ve heard about Trump being a dementing nutter fit for a home. She appears to have a worse bill of physical health, too: Trump looks like he could flop over from an MI because he’s such a fat old bastard, but Clinton is the one who fainted in public and looks fit for a diaper.

Bernie Sanders is as physically fit as both of those fuckers combined.

Another reason why I get beyond the narrow is this fucker a national binch analysis is that presidents have to deal with Congress. I overpredicted the amount of split-ticket voting last year and hence the makeup of Congress, but I did not exaggerate the amount of pushback that Trump has gotten. This is one of the reasons that I still prefer him to Clinton: because he won’t abide by Washington norms, he keeps getting dissed and sandbagged by other politicians who would feel rude to behave similarly towards just about any other president, no matter how richly that president would deserve a smackdown. I was especially worried about some fresh neoliberal hell being imposed by a Democratic Congress under a second President Clinton. During the election season, the Republicans seemed divided against themselves; the extent to which they’ve reunited, at least for public show, was beyond my ability to predict until it happened. The Republican establishment certainly didn’t look like it was doing kayfabe on Trump last year; it looked truly rattled. The denunciations of his incivility this year look more ritualistic and insincere, although shitheels like Paul Ryan are still uncomfortable with Trump’s refusal to play by their fake-ass rules of discourse.

My general assessment of 2016 was that whichever party won the presidency would win a Pyrrhic victory. If Trump won, he’d either reform the GOP from its nutbar Randroid extremism and religious establishmentarian preoccupations or provoke it into a terminal feud. If Clinton won, she’d forthrightly take the Democratic Party down with her in flames. I didn’t expect Trump to pursue a third way of reconciliation with the establishment Nutter Butters and double-crossing of the populists, but as I said, the rest of his party did not look like it was bullshitting anyone about what a menace it considered him during his campaign. He may have been lying about his intentions, but there’s no way in hell he was the only one who was lying; just look at his main opponent.

Whatever Trump’s intentions, my guess is that the Democrats, and probably Berniecrats at that, will sweep the 2018 Congressional midterms. The Obamacare repeal bills are pissing off a shitload of constituents because they’re being pushed through by unabashed psychopaths. The aggrieved include a great many pro-life religious right voters who usually vote straight Republican, a community that adopts more than its fair share of children with special needs. The constituent services that they’re used to getting from their governments, Republican, Democratic, and mixed, are dramatically better than the throw-the-gimps-out-on-the-street psychopathy that the GOP has been trying to ram through Congress this year. There’s already been enough constituent outrage to stall the Senate bill, and the likes of Dean Heller have enough support back home to hold the line regardless of what poison Sheldon Adelson breathes into the telephone.

How does this compare to Bill Clinton’s scheme with Newt Gingrich to privatize Social Security shortly prior to Monica donning the blue dress? It’s mainly a different kind of shit. If I’m mentally ill or whatever, it’s not because I insist on making my own decisions about when to vote for one of these dogshit parties. Bitch please.

Institutionalization

Is there some natural law dictating that all the yuppies and entrepreneurs and wannabes must read Tom Friedman? To posit the existence of such a shitty natural law dictating the reading of such shitty writing is, well, shitty. One should hope that the natural aristocracy or whatever the fuck it is that leads us would read something of some minimal redeeming intellectual and literary value, that it would keep in its hearts the curiosity and the love of beauty necessary to seek out reading material  that doesn’t totally suck ass. Only a certifiable Mark David Chapman would try to read even all the good essay writing that can be found on the internet. There are magazines and books, too, of course, even though the Insurance Schmuck never thought in the library in terms of books. (Sic, and powerfully so.)

At the same time, we can prove conclusively that books are unjustifiably fetishized as a medium, invested with hallucinated powers that they do not inherently possess, whenever some yuppie–say, the Insurance Schmuck over the weekend–openly impresses himself with his own educational self-improvement for reading the latest full-length Friedmanism. When I stumble into such artistically and intellectually wretched horseshit online, I close the damn tab. It isn’t just Anthony Weiner’s junk shots that pollute the ether; I must adult my way around even worse e-boners.

As the Last Psychiatrist always enjoyed putting it, if you’re reading it, it’s for you. That’s a bleak fucking natural law argument right there. The Insurance Schmuck is reading it, so it must be for him. Time and time again, we accidentally disprove the existence of American liberal arts curricula. Remember, these courses of instruction are supposedly ordered to giving their students the tools for life-long autodidactic edification and their liberation from slavery to full-time philistinism. But yeah, about that. We stayed in school, but good God, Starr, what is it good for? What kind of dimwitted Levar Burton-ass second-grade summer book report bollocks is any of this? *Very Vermont faculty vealpen voice* I’m Meat E. Urologist Steve Maleski, with an eye on the butterfly in the sky!

I’m listening to that, so VPR, too, must be for me. Or for my parents. Their car, their discretion (mostly) about CKM or no CKM. At least the North Country doesn’t have its own Devin Yamanaka. Hey there, Ed. What else is going on? Hey there, Devin. We know by now that Vermonters are a bit off, but maybe they aren’t actually all that insane. *Resume less irregular programming* Rob Thomas has more insight into his own condition, to be fair, but at least the Eye on the Sky eccentrics aren’t in it to rule the entire fucking world. That isn’t why one moves to Vermont. Just look at what the coastal elites did the last time one of its senators tried to run for the presidency. There’s some dumbass crunchy bullshit you can stumble into in them-thar Brahmin hills, but all in all it’s pretty modest. It’s probably wise not to rule out the possibility that bougie flatlanders were not feeling the Bern because they disliked the idea of a legit Brooklyner wandering away and starting his career in Vacationland at the age of forty.

Less time reading Moustache-Senpai might mean more time in danger of wandering down internet rabbit holes into comprehensive conspiracy theories about the Jews. The conspiracy theories can sound disturbing with a myopic focus on the strong shanda minority; they become almost cute when one compares two prominent Jews who couldn’t conspire their way into a conspiracy on where to get lunch. (((They))) pretty clearly weren’t looking to boost non-Lawrence parts of the Tribe last year, or they would have made noise during the primaries about voting for the guy from the shtetl family done good and not voting for the crazy shiksa carpetbagger. If a D-Lister like Roissy is a self-loathing Jew, it’s probably because the serious Money Jews are too busy throwing their coethnic class traitors under the bus to have time for antisemitism. A scorned coattail-riding woman like Hillary Clinton certainly doesn’t have any shame about selectively playing up her own elite philosemitism in one breath and having proxies deploy antisemitic talking points of varying virulence against Bernie Sanders in the next, and the serious Jewish social climbers are too busy waging perpetual class warfare to indulge in ethnic solidarity with some Fiddler on the Roof-ass antediluvian street-corner socialist who worked odd jobs through his thirties. Bernie doesn’t have a problem being authentic and consistent, but Abuela must be all things to all peoples in all languages, a profane Apostle Paul, and the rest of us must not notice her baggage. Or, as the Ethiopian bus driver might say if she were so vulgar as to travel like a peasant by common carrier through Martinez, wow, she has a lot of stuffs.

The assortative intellectual intercourse here is uncanny. Hey, I just said “intercourse.” Giggity. Watch out for the resulting bastard mindspawn. To this day the Hillary campaign is a lodestone for the same endlessly grasping yuppie horseshit as the Tom Friedman library. The most obvious difference is that Friedman superficially has better manners, so his promoters don’t have to maintain an elaborate, painstaking conceit that he’s fit for polite society. Instead, they maintain a more tacit conceit that he’s almost apolitical. His supposed bailiwick isn’t political argument (his actual line of work (fairly sic)) but the rational presentation of stone-cold economic truths. If Fukuyama was fit to play Taps for history, he might as well be commissioned to dust off the bugle and play it again for the unorthodox alternatives to the neoliberal globalist order. This is one of the reasons why Donald Trump was almost far enough to the left to win my vote: we had a bunch of bumptious assholes running around in a raging snit because they hadn’t given him permission to rain on their parade with his ADHD comments promising renewed protectionism. To riff on the end of history again, all industrial policy other than the abolition of all tariffs in response to mass-casualty garment district fires in Bangladesh is communism now. #TheMoreYouKnow.

Friedman isn’t retained to write honest commentary in good faith. He’s retained to write Bildungsromans, with an emphasis on the fictional aspects of his work. Why the fuck is it problematic for you or me to argue by anecdote when that shifty, overcaffeinated fucker always has some tendentious story about how his one cabbie in Bangalore listens to Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear or some shit, QED the earth is flat? My bad: more like Britney Spears. Why is that dimwitted bastard given bottomless mulligans to misconstrue at book length offhand comments he squeezed out of some CEO by cornering him for six hours straight on a flight to Hong Kong? If that’s valid, my high-volume ridicule of Sauce Boss and the Night Shift Shock Jocks, aka Northside Juice and the Shady Blues, construed also to include Raw Ginger and Fish Man, is beyond reproach. White Lives Matter, too, friends. The real source of my fifteen minutes of fame, Dubai Porta Potty, is unbelievably disgusting, but its source materials are attributed credibly enough for a Friedman column.

Can you see now why there are people who distrust the news media?

Tom Friedman is actually one of the less self-discrediting eminences accreted to the yuppie project. Sure, he was put on this earth to comfort the comfortable, but he does so in a way that aggrandizes salesmen, and Amway is as much the American Way as any other way. Mustache-Senpai is barely too political, depending on the store manager, to be sold at FedEx Office. Most sales cultures are fucking gross, but they have staying power. The Democrats inevitably dropped this ball by being ambivalent about the Glengarry Glen Ross #WINNING in the face of soi-disant dealmaker Donald Trump, but Friedman potentially still gives them some cover by being such an anodyne, unprincipled piece of shit who basically sucks corporate cock for a living.

The really bad optics come from just about everything else about the yuppies, especially the establishment Democrats among them. Hillary Clinton on her own was sufficiently over the top to bring the censoriousness and the preening superiority of every yuppie shithead orbiting her into stark relief. She was the vehicle by which the globalists and the yuppies working for them, or hoping to work for them, planned to maintain their vise grip on international politics. That’s enough to cast some harsh illumination on Friedman’s bogus rationality and transcendence of day-to-day politics. The Clintons really do tarnish everything that they touch. Friedman is fairly tangential to them, but he’s close enough to look worse by association.

The same crowd that laps up America’s worst syndicated newspaper columns seems to think that the TED Radio Hour will actually win over the hearts and minds of normal people. This is insane, and it’s another reason to turn off the damn radio. Anyone whose local NPR affiliate rebroadcasts even a third hour of Weekend Edition Saturday should cherish that above rubies, no matter how often I struggle to get my own ass up before noon. Here’s this nigh humorless, utterly joyless lecture series with just about the most atrocious aesthetics on public radio (I’m aware of the in-house competition, and yes, it’s that bad), hosted by an excruciatingly bloodless dork, and devoted to the aggrandizement of an audience that’s smug as all hell and lately quite upset that it has been denied its right, as the possessors of its degrees and its supreme rationality, to rule the whole wide world, a world that it instead must share with trade protectionists, the devoutly religious, antivaxxers, Alex Jones followers, Americans who aren’t up in arms with the Kremlin, and similar trash. Listening to a bunch of smug pricks intone through a haze of terrible auditorium acoustics about how rational they are and how fucking irrational and backwards their political enemies are, it’s hard not to imagine the audience becoming increasingly irritated, even furious, at the extension of the franchise to uneducated, ignorant losers who won’t get with their program.

Now, look at it this way: there are almost certainly TED speakers and audience members alike who would find it unconscionable for Donald Trump to make fun of them, who would think that there either is or absolutely should be some political price for an oaf like him to pay for ridiculing their dork squad. This is how powerfully idiotic the Democratic Party has become. It’s run by people who have sheltered themselves from the mainstream popular culture of their own country that they don’t realize how marginal NPR is to the general population or how hideously patronizing the TED Radio Hour is, even for NPR. This shit makes Marco Werman seem like a fairly self-aware nerd, and far be it from me to deny that he’s a grating, simpering little twit. That fucker sounds like he worked his way up from a ham radio license and public-access television, so it’s a bad sign when his own colleagues start making him sound like he has force of personality. But that’s the kind of thing that happens when a network doesn’t exile an annoying mediocrity like Guy Raz to El Centro.

These idiots think they’re gonna out-lecture Donald Trump. They’re that full of themselves. Every time they fall flat on their faces, they blame other people for being too backwards and uneducated to get it. Just yesterday I heard part of a TED segment in which some dipshit was talking about how the Russians use some kind of advanced mind-control technique to plant foreign ideas in their enemies’ minds. It was blatant projection: of course the Hillbots are doing basically the same thing. Putin hires offices full of trolls and sock puppets, but so does the Pentagon, and so did David Brock with his “virgin nerd army.” Not much of this shit is subtle enough to go over readers’ heads, especially when a prominent strategist explicitly compares the organization of his corporatized political campaign to a beehive. Yeah, sure, it’s the damn Russkies who sank Clinton, not voters who didn’t want to live in a Lorde song. Maybe we can blame the Kremlin for the “Our Thoughts Go Out To The Ceausescu Family, Sad Day For Nicolae” pop-up clickbait articles. That would be embarrassing.

Maybe the Democrats are so worked up about propaganda because their affluent members have already submitted to propaganda and censored themselves for purposes of career advancement. Bill Clinton, traditionally not one to abase himself, was somehow buffaloed into delivering a hideously sappy convention speech about how he and Hillary “are still having that conversation.” Initially I wondered if he hadn’t been extorted or blackmailed, but these days I tend to think that he just stopped giving a shit. The Big Dog knows how to game chicks, but Hillz wasn’t one of the bimbos he was looking to dick, and that wasn’t the first time (Gennifer Flowers much?). It was probably easier for him to be steamrolled by his crazy bitch of a wife and her staff into delivering that wretched, smarmy, platitudinous speech and then fly off on the Lolita Express or whatever than to try to pass the old lady’s shit tests.

I suspect that that cringeworthy incident spoke less to Bill’s fall from charm than to the Democrats’ collective descent into an ever shittier zeitgeist. That’s the kind of crap that they presumably think will actually appeal to the base and win elections, if we’re idealistic enough to assume that the whole operation isn’t just a big grift for consultant-class shysters. The talented tenth, to the extent that it’s a numerical tenth and has legitimate talents, seems to get some bizarre, sublimated psychosexual edification from this increasingly elaborate cult of court etiquette, and meanwhile I’m not sleeping my car this week. Substitute other experiences not suitable for discussion in neoliberal circles to taste. This faction is apparently sheltered and arrogant enough to actually think that it will somehow be able to brightside dissidents into silence and political impotence.

Hence all the rage at Trump, the worst Republican from the 2016 field who could have challenged them. Most of the others respected their precious court etiquette. Trump had the nerve to throw memberberries at the poor. Sure, South Park is fun, but it isn’t just entertainment to push a man down, kick him repeatedly, and then make fun of him for his nostalgia for the old days when he wasn’t being pushed down and kicked. The yuppies alienate their victims just by blowing off steam. Really fucking smart.

In this context, Trump isn’t really that far out of line. The reason he angers yuppies by being insensitive is that he makes fun of various cherished institutions and the incumbents running them. He talked over Hillary. He brags about his fin-dom plans for corporations that offshore American jobs. He brags about fin-dom plans for NATO that have no bearing on how NATO members’ defense obligations are actually structured, but he looks good doing it because it allows him to highlight yet another instance of his opponents caring more about the welfare of foreigners than that of Americans. He shits on the court etiquette. The shrillest complaints about his ugly comments about minorities (e.g., Muslims) come from blatant hypocrites who didn’t lift a finger to Barack Obama for droning wedding parties and encouraging ICE and CBP to go rogue.

Trump also enrages the yuppie swarm by having fun at work. He butts heads with joyless, self-censoring careerist scolds who watch what they say and pester those around them to watch their own language not because it might be bad but because it might sound bad. Joy Ann Reid is a public intellectual in a country that used to have William F. Buckley. Now Bill, that old boy relished being a posh cunt. He may have been eccentric as hell to the poors, but he was authentic. We still have relatively marginal characters in the public discourse who have some kind of sincere fun with their intellectual pursuits. P. J. O’Rourke ought to lay off the whiskey and lay on the seltzer, but he gets his kicks yukking it up with hostile copanelists and audiences. Fred Reed is able to defend the Confederacy, an institution I’ve always been too much of a damn Yankee to admire, in ways that are exceptionally thoughtful and reasonable, if still fundamentally flawed. Thomas Sowell may be on the Spectrum, and he sometimes utters some rather noxious thoughts on how we’re too squeamish to just execute our prisoners, but he comes up with some exceptional histories of things that no one else seems able to research.

I very often disagree with these guys, but they’re ultimately quite respectable. My main problem isn’t with Opposing Viewpoints; it’s with, for example, the closest leftist equivalents to these conservative thinkers being no-platformed in favor of intellectual embarrassments like Tom Friedman. The Democratic Party and its organs keep marginalizing Thomas Frank because he causes them scandal by pointing out what a shambling wreck they’ve made of themselves.

At the snarky margins, there’s stuff like this. Read the essay and the accompanying thread, if you can stomach any of it. That combination of angry sheepdogging, hippie-punching, general shaming of the marginalized, and possible sock-puppeteering makes me wonder whether the registered Democrat, youth, and leftist votes for Trump weren’t underreported. Trump, of all people, was the one with the self-discipline not to lash out at voters whose support he sought.

The essay and comment thread in that link offer a revealing glimpse into why so many young people today in particular don’t trust institutions, including ones that Trump criticizes, and regard those who do trust the same institutions as sellouts. Gin and Tacos is something of a lodestone for educated Democrats who are resentful of Republicans, Greens, Berniecrats, and nonvoters who, in this particular case, got in the way of their woke slay Queen Abuela. A few dissenting voices were bold enough to butt in and basically ask why we wouldn’t vote for someone who gave us a positive reason to turn out instead of holding our noses and voting for someone we despise and distrust because her partisans are lecturing us again. I could identify three presidential candidates in 2016 who seemed sympathetic to the plights of a large swath of the marginalized: Sanders, Trump, and Stein. I’ve discussed why at great length before. Abuela didn’t make the list because bitch didn’t pass my gut check. It’s worth mentioning how much better Trump looked just for running on a message that was overwhelmingly positive towards the native working and lower middle classes instead of brightsiding everyone in one breath and then smearing reluctant voters as petulant children in the next.

The flame war in that Gin and Tacos link is the yuppie liberal Id that the likes of Tom Friedman and Bill Clinton are used to obscure with their happy horseshit. It’s a good example of why I was convinced for a few months that we were in the midst of a political pole reversal and still am not convinced that we aren’t. Most prominent Democrats have careened into raging illiberalism in response to Trump. If I don’t like that, I have no obligation to vote for it, just as I have no obligation to vote for anything else that I don’t like. It’s disgusting to watch people who are spewing verbal abuse at my kind demand that we vote for someone we can’t stand just to show them, who openly despise us, that we aren’t uneducated, ignorant bigots.

Only a dumbass would imagine that this is a winning stance. Besides, many of us have gotten sick of being expected to respect and defend institutions that keep screwing us over. In my case (and I know I’m not alone), voting against Hillary was a nice break from the Stockholm Syndrome. It wasn’t about to force her to deliver the goods, but it was a great way to punish her for not giving a shit about delivering the goods. It was also a great way to punish scolds who falsely construed “Make America Great Again” as nothing but a racist and sexist dogwhistle. The size and enthusiasm of Trump’s female, black, and Latino bases would embarrass the Clinton crew if they could get definitive numbers and think them over, so they would say that.

What else is there to say about this clusterfuck? Probably a lot, but I have the energy to reiterate only two things in closing: MAGA, and GO DIPLOMATS!

Other sides of town

On the same day when my dad and I had lunch in one of the prolific bougie-ass eateries out past the SUNY Albany campus in Stuyvesant Plaza (my heavens, Poirot, truly, if one is not Dutch, one is not much!), a particularly bad house fire destroyed three houses and displaced dozens of residents just up the hill from the Amtrak right of way four miles to the east, in the ghetto (in the ghetto).

Oh. That liturgy again. Mustn’t we have a different one, by which we might proclaim that white lives matter, too? Never mind. Stuyvesant Plaza has a mostly white but racially integrated customer base. The ghetto row house fire over on Manning displaced an integrated community, too, not just a Community, but if you think that’s the salient aspect of this disaster, take a fucking look at the neighborhood. Why, hello, neighbor! Beautiful day; would you be mine? Actually, on second thought, I’d prefer not to be yours. CDTA doesn’t do trolleys, either, so there’s that, too.

I don’t always watch the local television news, but when I do, I usually need another Dos Equis. This is reminiscent of the time my dad was looking at houses for sale in Ilion, with an eye towards buying me one, in the same week that Ilion managed to lend one of its murderers to Glens Falls, my parents’ county seat. Albany hollows out because it’s fallen onto the wrong side of the tipping point that leaves it with residents like the shady losers on the video clip in that link. Thanks a lot, Gladwell. “Inner city” has increasingly become a misnomer for bad parts of town in the United States, just as it has been for generations in Europe, but it isn’t off the mark for a shithole like Albany. The worst I can say about downtown Troy is that it’s spatially disorganized and a bit rundown. What I’ve seen of Rensselaer is mostly just on the low end of mediocre. I often keep an eye out when I’m passing through the Capital District, either by road or by rail, and the outer parts of downtown Albany stand out for scary decrepitude. As Billy Fish says in Streets of Fire, I can’t go there! That place is the shits! Having browsed real estate listings for blighted houses and razed lots brokered by the Albany County Land Bank, I agree: it’s a whole big lot of the shits.

Who, then, inhabits this positive feedback loop? Again, the shits. I had a powerfully negative gut reaction to everything about the human and canine tableau from the street in front of that fire scene. The canine part was pit bulls of exactly the sort that Michael Vick might take into his place of business, never to honor or cherish. Similarly, I wouldn’t trust what any of the residents I glimpsed in the news footage for reassurances that pit bulls actually have really nice temperaments and are just misunderstood. That’s the kind of thing the residents look like they’d say about their boyfriends, too. Girlfriends? I wouldn’t rule that out, either. It mustn’t be the worst neighborhood to find what the ghetto-ass bitches of 103rd Street in South Los Angeles call “just a ghetto-ass bitch.” (“She ugly! She always gonna be ugly! Her hair always gonna be nappy! She wanted me to bring some food, but I ain’t gonna do that on principle!”)

The video clip in that link gave me an instant, overwhelming feeling that these fuckers are trouble and their dogs are trouble, that they’re trouble on account of their dogs and that their dogs are trouble on account of them, and that the continued breeding of any of their lineages would inevitably be dysgenic. I have no guilt about saying any of this. It has to be said. People like them poison their own neighborhoods. When I get priced out of decent neighborhoods, they end up poisoning my neighborhoods, too. That’s one of the reasons why I sleep at rest areas so often. I try to stay away from shady hood rats who saunter around in public wearing exposed wifebeaters and trashy women who keep fighting dogs and then bullshit everyone about how they totally aren’t dangerous and totally weren’t bred just for the amusement of childhood associates of Michael Vick. People like them make excuses for their own aggressively chaotic behavior; it is in no way my duty to second their self-justifications.

As a broader society, we’re fucking witless and hapless and derelict before these people. The problem with prison, aside from the evil of imprisoning people who aren’t ongoing dangers to society, is that prison is boarding school for cholo-ass gangbanger shitheads. Most of them come back to the old hood after a study abroad period during which they often enjoy significant social continuity with their neighbors from adolescence. Really well thought out, guys. Instead of a few gangs of troublemakers at loose ends in a neighborhood with moderating peaceable influences from women, children, the elderly, and more sensible men, we set up entire campuses of nothing but hardened men with criminal records and the sorts of people who are willing, allowed, and occasionally even able to work around concentrated hordes of hardened criminals. How could this possibly go awry?

We don’t do a hell of a lot better with the ones left behind in the hood while homeboy is off in the hoosegow: tenants’ rights protections that are weak in most jurisdictions as written and useless everywhere in practice, underfunded school systems that are dismissed as professional Siberia for career staff and cravenly exploited as stepping stones to graduate school by the social climbers in Teach For America, comprehensively deficient government services. Private one-on-one relationships are always a possible path to neighborhood improvement, but who the hell wants to go into a physically disintegrating ghetto full of the people and dogs in that video clip and try to reach out to the least recalcitrant? It turns out that it’s mostly religious busybodies, i.e., yet another source of chaos.

Donald Trump seems to get that these neighborhoods are in trouble and that their young people need a more coherent sense of purpose, but his thinking is scatterbrained and inchoate, and, as with pretty much every other president we’ve had, supporting poor majority-black neighborhoods is a low priority for him. He understands, maybe indirectly, that we won’t be integrating the people on that video into the knowledge economy or the creative economy or whatever the fuck we’re calling it this month. Knowledge of what? How to bullshit the gullible about the temperament of the neighborhood pit bulls? We’ve got a bunch of dogs over there that surely come from troubled lineages and surely have been raised in troubled environments, so maybe their owners can communicate to create (well, now!) post hoc excuses for how and why the maulings of passing schoolchildren just kind of unfortunately happened for a living. It doesn’t take much to tell that that neighborhood is under the sway of its own trouble (trouble, trouble, trouble; am I mistaken, Miss Swift?).

The most viable solution is to reorganize the economy in some fashion so that the relatively competent and ambitious residents of these shitty neighborhoods are able to make a decent living doing something menial but productive and work their way up towards better things as they and their descendants are able. We’re able to fritter away the national treasury on foreign wars in hostile sand pits where our boys and girls hardly speak the language but not to reimpose tariffs on Chinese flipflops and lightbulbs. What the fuck? I’ve been getting flak for advocating protectionism again, but I can’t help but suspect that one of the reasons why the United States has a trade policy that so exposes its manufacturers and their employees to cutthroat foreign competition is that our government has spent the last twenty-plus years pursuing anything but protectionism, that we haven’t succeeded because we refuse to try. What we have instead are proliferations of chav dysfunction in the socioeconomic vacuums left behind where the productive economy has been mothballed. We have constellations of old mining and mill towns on the skids, and our decision as a polity has consistently been to run away while they turn into incubators of god-awful dysfunction and misery, on the spurious assumption that they’ll somehow gentrify. Spoiler: it ain’t happening.

When efforts actually are made to do something for these communities, they regularly end up being needlessly confrontational or arrogant. IUD-for-EBT schemes to sterilize welfare mothers like so many excess deer put residents on edge about soft genocide and stir up the hornet’s nest. Casino redevelopment leads to pawn shops, problem gambling, an economic worldview predicated on insane bullshit, and before long casinos cannibalizing one another and their owners paying for airtime to pester viewers to write to their elected officials in support of regulatory capture. Frank massacres of restive populations would provoke riots, guerrilla insurgencies, or terrorist attacks; see Ferguson for a mild and quite restrained preview of the available civilian avenues of redress. We’re already earning the ugly dividends of our cancerous penal state. The social and political blowback from the opiate mess will be ricocheting everywhere for years to come.

We already have these adrift, aggrieved barbarians within our gates, but what does the Democratic establishment want to do? Hang out at Panera and call that praxis. What does the Republican establishment want to do? Market-based something-something dignity of work and Kwesi Millington for Sheriff. The Donald still doesn’t look like he can hold a candle to the Bern on industrial policy, but he’s just about all we’ve got working that beat in a federal leadership position. Pelosi? Schumer? McConnell? Ryan? Turn Big Ears Teddy around and haidt-fuck me now, Sweet Baby J. 

That’s still less disturbed than our partisan leadership teams, and also much of what I’ve read of the meta-Haidt literature. These shitheads claim to come to Washington on a quest of principles, so it’s fascinating to learn that being an oily crook and deliberately letting constituents die are principles now. Big Ears shouldn’t have to see any of this.

There are competent, sober, well-meaning people who try to bridge the gap left behind in abandoned cities by disastrous industrial policy and official neglect. I’ve been lucky to meet some of them. One of them is an ex-Detroit cop who worked with my cousin’s husband in a mentorship program for at-risk high school boys in Ann Arbor. This guy is one of the calmest, most levelheaded, most naturally urbane people I’ve ever met. It didn’t surprise me much to learn that he, too, had gotten the hell out of Detroit and quit the force. These are both popular movements. Is it because he’s white? He’s black, so probably not. This alleged white flight always involves surprisingly much of the Community these days. Sure, it’s a 91% black population that’s left behind, almost La Haye-style, but that’s due to differing distributions of education, income, marketable skills, and so forth by race, which overlap at the margins. I’m reading between the lines a bit here because my mom talked to this fellow at much greater length than I did, but when a city is too chaotic and threatening for someone who has his head on that straight, it’s got problems. I’m pretty sure, too, that the Detroit PD is too derp-derp to establish a reserve unit in an effort to lure back cops who are able and willing to take small doses of the crazy but want to do something more fruitful with the bulk of their careers.

On the other hand, I hear that Detroit’s collapse has opened a new frontier for urban goat herders, and that’s aggie even for Da-a-a-a-a-vis. Sometimes a badly troubled city can end up with some exceptionally resourceful people setting up shop in unexpected niches. Ironically, parts of Detroit may be so abandoned that small communities of homesteaders and entrepreneurs are able to move in and provide a majority of the eyes on the street just by showing up. I’ve never visited Detroit, so I’m going based on news articles and accounts from acquaintances who have spent time there, but it sounds like it’s developed a really unusual urban fabric in recent decades.

One of the reasons why I despair about this stuff so easily and get so wound up is that I feel like I’m the only person stumbling into the margins and then trying to hold the line in defense of middle-class values like not starting a street fight with another thug at the light rail station because you say the other guy sold meth to your kid sister. I hardly ever detect functional people from the broad middle class, and I mean really broad, who are there to shoulder some bit of the burden. All the woke folk are off at Panera, doing politics and shit, among what they construe as Democrats. (LOL.) I really don’t feel like being the only functional, non-underclass person who’s trying to provide ad hoc adult supervision in some neighborhood prison yard while all my peers are off in the land of Harry Potter and Josiah Bartlett, being the great winners that we were all taught to be. I certainly don’t want to be the little bitch who keeps doing that for free while maybe half of one percent of the peers I’m following on Facebook admit to some sort of unemployment. Hence the eye that I keep out for deposit bottles. Chaka Can Chaka Can; I welcome the money and the cash, Chaka Can.

The other thing is that I have to protect myself from that dysfunction. Cousin Gigolo comes from a rural family that isn’t much different from the shadies in that video from the fire. Hell, his mother burned her trailer down for the insurance money; do that to a rowhouse, and you, too, could be on TV. I know all these yuppies who live in places like Manayunk and Pacific Beach, and I really don’t take kindly to any of them suggesting that I’m the one who’s failing to adult. They have no idea how good they have it and how much economic redlining goes into keeping them safe from the abandoned rabble. At least when I sleep at rest areas, I know what I’m fleeing and can give turn-by-turn driving directions to it. I might even be able to locate the house in Camden that I saw on fire half a block south of the Speed Line over the winter.

Please accept my warmest welcome into this world.