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.

A voice whining petulantly in the desert, lecturing an audience that may or may not be there

It’s hard to compile an exhaustive list of things that are childish, deranged, or otherwise embarrassing about the Panera Democrats meme. My initial foray into this swamp was just the first draft of history and shit, and it’s a hell of a lot to process, to I missed some things.

The proclamation of Panera Democrats as a crucial part of the base may be the apotheosis of limousine liberal centrist triangulation. I don’t want to jump the gun and announce that this frontier has been closed only to watch the Democrats slouch across some even worse horizon of privilege, but maybe, just maybe, we’ve finally wandered down to rock bottom on this wretched journey. Bill Clinton’s famous soccer moms were heavy on tiger moms overscheduling the hell out of their precious snowflakes and running themselves ragged to no good end in the process, but at least their lifestyle was understood to revolve around their family affinity for a team sport. The conception of Panera Democrats is explicitly of overly precious bougies who hang out in pretentious, overpriced suburban cafes with surprisingly bad coffee. The implicit sense of the target demographic’s lifestyle degenerates from some fashion of involvement in athletics to a strictly construed interest in lunch under the auspices of a specific upscale marketing affiliation. One gets the sense that sex would require too much exertion. The Democratic Party’s campaign strategy is subsumed into the marketing strategy of the one allegedly affordable place where Bougie feels comfortable getting lunch.

Even more pathetically, much of this target demographic obsesses neurotically over its weight as a way of bodily demonstrating its own superiority to the fat poors. #TeshTips: If you eat at Panera regularly and never get a cinnamon crunch bagel because you’re worried about the calories, you’re a fucking loser. If a diabetic has the good sense to take a supersized dose of insulin in preparation for the Price Chopper strudel (grandma’s taste didn’t always revolve around gallon jars of mayonnaise and government cheese), what the hell is wrong with you? That’s the one good thing I’ll concede about Karen Handel: she looks like she wouldn’t let Dotson finish all of Johnson and Belmar’s leftover fries at Steak-n-Shake. That is, she has really healthy eating habits compared to the woke college-educated quasiliberal base the Dems were trying to catch with Jon Ossoff. So does Fat Sammy, and that boy can eat.

Am I done insinuating that in my own stress-eating I, too, serpas the emotional and psychological maturity of America’s affluent social anorexics? I dunno, but I do know that I spelled that entire sentence correctly. WHO DAT. I have to get to bed pretty soon so that I’ll be safe to drive my parents to Albany for a medical appointment tomorrow morning, so the answer to my original question is probably yesish on second thought. For real, Billy Nungesser has a healthier relationship to food than some of these lettuce eaters at Panera; one has to figure that he enjoys some jambalaya, and some more jambalaya, and that he gets his somewhere better than Safeway. I’m pretty sure that this substantial detour is an exclusive function of my insomnia, jet lag, and fucked up sleep schedule, so, as I said, it’s hard to compile an exhaustive list of what’s wrong with the Democrats. Life is like a box of chocolates that way: you never know what you’re gonna get, but you can be pretty sure that Sam Dotson won’t put it back in the box. Never mind. I’m pretty sure that last part was nonsense, but these essays are too much trouble to edit, and it’s wicked late, so bon appetit, bitches.

One of the things the Democrats are striving to reward and turn into the basis of an enduring political movement is terminal alienation from all means of production. I’m kind of fat, but I’m also kind of a fruitboy. The Dems’ goal is to stop the working class from climbing back out of the dumpster where they disposed of it and instead to lavish praise and constituent patronage upon useless eaters who neurotically deny themselves normal meals without observing Lent (long story, sort of, but it’s an old agricultural holiday) and drive all over hell to fuck around in gyms because the cosmos provided Mexicans to do all the heavy labor. It’s foolish to get into high dudgeon with bougies for being so wasteful per se, but why the fuck does a major party have to cater to this shit? We saw it a few years ago with the bizarre health insurance exchange ads featuring two Millennial women in Lycra tights sitting on exercise balls with hearty glasses of wine in hand. This was part of the same advertising campaign that gave us Pajama Boy. #GetTalking. Roissy got into a snit because the wino chicks were fat, although to be honest they had only slightly more cushion for the pushin’. The real scandal, of course, is the celebration of entire classes of needlessly wasteful useless eaters and the concomitant maintenance of a separate class of foreign peasants to do all the dirty work.

All of this arises from a profound failure of coherence. Couldn’t the elliptical spinners be hooked up to electrical generators? No. That would require too much thought about electrical shit when we’re here to pay the creative class, not some peon electrician who’s already overpaid for not having a respectable and worthwhile skillset.

This, I’m afraid, is the dark crux of the matter. Don’t assume that I’m actually right about this; I still have to get to bed, so as Lambert Strether says, talk amongst yourselves, and as I say, it’ll be Christmas in July if more than one of you shows up here. There could be something even worse that explains the prissiness and impracticality of the Democratic establishment, and I’ll need to think about something much more retarded to have a hope of falling asleep.

What I meant to say before Wow Much words None concise is that the Democratic establishment very much wants to live in a world that does not force it to reckon with the existence of anyone who’s uneducated, unskilled, or poor. From this perspective, Panera is a great place to pretend. One is free to ignore the help, and given how shitty some of these college boys and girls are to the help, that may not be an entirely bad thing. It’s like a badly decorated version of the college cafeteria. The poors are priced out of the joint, peons magically keep it clean (for which we must punish them for not staying in school, of course), and one’s peers of a certain suitable class consequently stop by in abundance for an adequately foo-foo lunch on the go. Clintonworld Democrats would like to think that they aren’t so heartless, but if they aren’t there yet, they’re well on their way. What did you think “nudge theory” is? There’s also, of course, curtain theory, which holds that any unaccounted-for Secret Service agents can probably be found hiding behind the curtains. I know I wouldn’t have made that up if it weren’t a quarter to two in the morning, but it’s still way not creepy compared to shit that neoliberals earnestly promote. Abuela, she don’t like the little people thinking for themselves, you see. If we did, we might not agree that the only reason we’re racist is that we didn’t stay in school and then make lots of money.

This faction wants to campaign in Panera because it is deeply uncomfortable with the possibility that the rest of the country (which it immiserated) is not much like Panera. This is a good indication of how fucking sheltered and useless and idiotic the Democratic Party has become. Going to a recycling warehouse in Pennsyltucky and gladhanding forklift operators is a breach of fun stuff. A McDonald’s that was just mopped from end to end is several orbits beyond their comfort zone. That Donald Trump seems to actually enjoy talking to deplorables about industrial policy, if perhaps more than he enjoys actually thinking through it, must mean that he’s a troglodyte.

The factories are coming back, folks. They aren’t gonna do that. It isn’t the smartest, but if Donald Trump, who construes fun stuff to include jawboning about industrial policy in ways that may actually yield decent jobs after this and that and whatever (elegant!), is the true sign of our times, at least it assuages my recurrent fear that Crystal Harris is the greatest prophet of our age.

Panera Democrats

Good bloody grief, the GA-06 special election has given us a barfworthy new shorthand for the narrow, polarizing constituency of tepidly semiliberal Republican-leaning suburban social climbers that the Democratic establishment, for some hideous sentimental reason, still swears will get it over the top. As I often am, I’m late to this particular shitshow, which started two months ago, but just a few hours ago I came across some astute leftists on Twitter discussing it, and hoo boy is it some dumb, dumb shit. A high mucky-muck in the Democratic Party named Brian Fallon went on Twitter during the first round of the special election, on April 18, with this gem:

Even if he doesn’t hit 50 tonight, Ossoff is showing us the path to retaking the House. It runs through the Panera Breads of America.

Dude are you fucking serious? I think I’d heard of Fallon in contexts other than this Panera Democrats wanking fantasy, but I don’t follow the horse race bullshit closely enough to keep track of however many dozens of A-Listers, hundreds of B-Listers, and so on down the line maintain some kind of hideous relationship of patronage in exchange for sycophancy with Clintonworld. I guess I maintained some vague benefit of the doubt that the machine was savvy enough not to keep anyone around who was so utterly retarded. The moral of the story, if there is one, must be never to give anyone who’s ever been in the Clintons’ orbit the benefit of the doubt.

Before I continue, I might as well air some of my own mixed feelings about Panera. On the whole, I enjoy the chain. A dear friend of mine (a suburban Republican who considered Trump a nutcase and a distraction during the primaries; how topical!) and I have gone to half a dozen Paneras in Pennsylvania and the one at Horton Plaza in San Diego. Most of the food is good, although one scorched bowl of French onion soup in North Hollywood (Wow Much travels None homeland) got me woke af to the truth that the properly executed recipe still sucks. At the same time, the scrupulously anodyne corporate office park aesthetic has increasingly aggravated me over the years (they decorate their cups with fucking clip art). Starbucks is a vastly bigger chain with vastly higher revenue, but it feels human. Panera makes Dunder-Mifflin not look disturbing. More pertinently, Panera’s price points have been floating into the ionosphere for the past few years, or, in the Vulgate, it’s hella expensive, dawg.

We’re dealing here with a chain that subtly triggers customers who have had bad experiences in office jobs by reminding them of work, has good but not reliably good food, and costs a fortune for a fast-casual chain that often doesn’t even offer a tip jar. Panera is super bougie, a great place to get a bagel for $4.50 and then remember that Dunkin’ Donuts sells bagels that are almost as good at half the price. Bullneck has predicted that Panera will implode in another five years and produce a wave of strip mall vacancies. I’ve watched new hires watching training videos in the kitchen, so I don’t particularly doubt it. It’s already verging on a retail version of the Juicero.

This is not where socioeconomically mainstream people regularly eat. Statistics, which the Democratic brain trust supposedly has entire staffs to collect and analyze, prove this, and so does knowing people who aren’t yuppies. Right there we have two complementary ways that the DNC establishment is nothing but idiots. They don’t know anything from personal experience about how normal people live, and their yuppie statisticians don’t know anything from statistics about how normal people live. That’s the lot and portion of believing that Nate Silver is some kind of savant.

This dumbass Fallon probably avers that the path to a House majority runs through the Panera lobbies of the land because he’d rather hang out at Panera than have to deal with non-servant proles on their grubby turf. I’ve conducted much funemployment in Starbucks lobbies, and homelessness, too, so I don’t have a problem with people doing fuck-all in Panera all the live-long day. In Fallon’s case, I don’t really have a problem with some homelessness, either. If we’re going to continue having homelessness, why can’t public idiots partake of it in the interest of meritocracy? I write this stuff as a labor of love. I don’t get paid for it, no matter how mentally or emotionally taxing it is. I’ll get into a laser focus for hours at a time. You might wonder, then, why the laser spends so much time focused on the same handful of canucksploitable disgraces. Can’t I communicate to create something else? I even forget to meme Jian Ghotmesi. All I can say is that I’m imperfect. I’m not the hardest on the eyes, but I’m no Lynn Majors. I don’t expect to get paid for any of this shit. In the case of Dubai Porta Potty, I expressly expect not to get paid for it because no one should be paid for such a thing. Ready the net, Rundel, and make sure it’s a big one, because I’m fixing to grill up a regular Galilee camp meeting fish fry on the embers of these takes.

So here’s what bothers me: I pour myself into these essays because I feel called to bear witness to these things, with no compensation and no expectation that I’ll be paid, and then some overpaid idiot like Brian Fallon comes along and makes a raging public ass of himself for a living by demonstrating that he fundamentally does not understand American politics, which is his precise field. We’ve got the worst and the dimmest destroying a party FOR WHICH I DID VOLUNTEER GROUND CAMPAIGNING IN OPPOSITION TERRITORY so that they can loot what they consider their share of the ruins; smearing people who operate at a thousand times their intellectual wattage on a slow day (not just me; I could probably name dozens that I follow online) as ignoramuses; smearing the unemployed, the menially employed, and the marginally employed (again, not just me; in this case, millions) as wastrels; and ensconcing themselves as an unaccountable overclass in the name of meritocracy. I’ve seen claims that Fallon makes six figures for quixotically misdirecting the Democratic Party with his dumbass conflation of Alpharetta with the entire United States. The Dunkin’ Doorman is worth more to society than that retard.

It isn’t just that the Democratic establishment high-hats its intellectual superiors, e.g., laymen who notice that GA-06 is hella rich and the rest of America isn’t. They spent something like $30 million on Jon Ossoff and wouldn’t even give James Thompson or Rob Quist money for mailers. That isn’t incompetence; it’s fin-dom by omission. Mother is displeased. Abuela must punish the prodigal by disinheritance, but Jon, he’s a good boy, so he shall be given the entire estate. It’s Agatha Christie as reinterpreted by Megan McArdle.

This is our main left-wing party.

The two parties spent a combined $50m in a pissing match for a single House seat in Chrisley Country. What the hell did the Democrats think they were going to accomplish there? I had distant family in Alpharetta because a cousin married a guy who flew the big metal for Delta. Certain elements must not care for the neighborhoods closer than half an hour beyond the far end of the MARTA system. No, I’m not trying to dogpile Southerners for being racists. GA-06 has a significant black minority, although a small one for the Deep South. There are enough Latinos in suburban Atlanta for a beefy white police chief to walk down the Buford Highway pleading with constituents who just got off the bus to cross somewhere safer. On the other hand, the main takeaway from Chrisley Knows Best is that it’s past time for Summer Benton to choke a bitch. (Have at it, Hockenberry.) The McMansion vote isn’t living up there out of an abiding love of Whitey. They aren’t looking to break bread with the salty crackers. As they say down by the Chattahoochee, it’s a clay-ass thang.

Atlanta isn’t the only metropolis that has a problem with clay ass, although for a family that has a TV show for the sole purpose of showing off its own, the Chrisleys sure have none. Benton, you copy? I forgot to mention that the “Who the hell is Whitehead?” case involved an abandoned apartment complex sort of down towards the airport, in an area where my relatives must not have considered moving. It was the wrong kind of community, but not just because it was the wrong Community. Atlanta’s black middle class didn’t seem eager to live there, and a fancy bitch in Alpharetta certainly has no interest in dirtying herself in a neighborhood of mobile (sic) cracker shacks.

If we assume that the Atlanta metroplex is a microcosm of the United States, maybe one Congressional district in five is like GA-06. By law, one district out of 435 nationally is GA-06. There was no strategic purpose for the Democrats to dump $30m down that hole, but it was a form of therapeutic hippie-punching for shitheads who were still sore about the Bern and the Donald, a good way to show Rob Quist who was boss. It was also a good excuse to slander Po’ Whitey. Check it, there’s brown and yellow and black folk in the Sixth now, and everyone’s all educated, unlike the troglodyte racists in the rest of Georgia. This didn’t explain what political worldview would inspire a Brahmin Indian cardiologist not to vote Republican. 100% of the black 13% or whatever of the electorate is still only 13%, because Wow Much Mathematix. The Democrats expect African-Americans to vote for them. Is it because they’re black? Around Atlanta, a growing part of the black middle class is actually from Africa. Would a Nigerian orthopod be any less inclined to vote for Tom Price than Tom Price? The Democrats are working through this thing with shitty math and shitty sociology. If political science is actually a science, it isn’t in their hands.

As Lambert Strether likes to say, the Democrats are discovering that Republican voters prefer hardcore Republicans to softcore Republicans. Or maybe they aren’t discovering it; they may actually be that dense. They ran a centrist triangulator with a Milton Street-level commitment to residency in his own district but without Milton Street’s honesty about where he lays down his head, threw another of their Hail-Mary passes to their theoretically adequate ramshackle coalition of college fuckheads and racially denominated client bases, and then they choked. This toff told them to go campaigning in Panera, and then journalists discovered, to no sensible person’s surprise, that working-class black voters who weren’t all dead set against turning out were actually down at Burger King and had abandoned Panera to #TCOT.

But Burger King is gross. Like the proles who eat there, amirite? This is how petty the Democratic establishment is. This is how precious. Panera is their safe space. They just haven’t gotten around to accepting that the Alpharettans who have the money to darken (nay, greatly lighten) its doors have a reactionary highbrow politics suitable for the country club, not a mealymouthed posh woke politics suitable for quizzo night in Adams Morgan. Perhaps they are just at an early stage of their grieving. They still want brown to stick around out of some sense of political inertia and umpteenth-generation feeling of gratitude to the Democrats for nurturing civil rights leaders including LBJ (the Civil Rights Act) and Bill Clinton (Ricky Ray Rector). They want to cobble their racial subalterns together with just enough woke yuppies to form a critical mass, on the apparent belief that racial love for their august party will surely convince fast food workers to make common cause with hospital executives who would sooner have them live under a freeway overpass than share a bit of the wealth.

This ain’t no You Pick Two, cracka.

Stick a fork in the Nork Dork

If anyone alive today has forfeited his right to life, it’s Kim Jong-Un. There are others who are no less intrinsically heinous but precious few who are as threatening both to their own countries and to international stability.

Chide me if you like for advocating the assassination of a foreign head of state, but realize that I do not determine Piggy Gangnam Style’s longevity. (Nor am I the first to call him by this utterly appropriate epithet; I learned it from High Arka.) I am as effective at dereifying Piggy Gangnam Style as I am at reifying Mariska Hargitay into my bed to give me a Slow Cosby. If competent international men and women of mystery decide that it’s time for the fat bastard to go, it’s most probably that time of the autocratic cycle again. Do I mean to imply that there will be blood? Of course, but that ain’t necessarily so: Juche Porky had his own non-Spanish-speaking Dominican brother taken out in a cleaner fashion, although not his sleepy uncle. Alternately, and perhaps more feasibly, someone in his own government might decide that it’s time to Stauffenberg Kim, or that he’s murderous enough that his executions might as well not all be undertaken in vain. Some underling or underlings of his might determine that they’re hardly any less likely to be executed for taking him out than for leaving him unharmed, and that they have a good chance of finally triggering national reform three quarters of a century late by excising him from the body politic.

What I am not advocating is anything remotely as brutal as what Kim had his criminal justice system do to Otto Warmbier. As a matter of principle I’m in favor of some incidental vengeance, but mainly I’m interested in seeing a third-generation psychopathic serial murderer, tyrant, and international nuclear menace neutralized for good. The local circumstances seem idiosyncratic enough, and crucially very different from those under any of the dictators in Arab Spring country, that the assassination of Kim would stand a good chance of catalyzing a German-style reunification rather than some kind of factional bloodbath. Korea is a rare case of extreme political tension arising in the practically total absence of religious and ethnic tensions, a cohesive, ethnically unified nation that got split arbitrarily by a truce line into one half that evolved over the next several decades into an exceptionally reputable member of the international community and another half that entrenched itself as a sclerotic, hypermilitarized international pariah state, overtly threatening nuclear war with its neighbors on a regular basis.

Capturing Kim Jong-Un and hauling him before an international tribunal would be a restrained act of retaliation against a man whose family kidnapped Japanese civilians for lifelong enslavement as cooks and tutors, but doing so would risk provoking the remainder of his government into doing something much crazier than usual in a gambit to win his release. Assassinating him might cause enough chaos in his government to enable an international military invasion followed by a latter-day Marshall Plan, all of it under the direction of the other, much more competent Korean government, the one whose parliament recently impeached the scandal-plagued president and whose courts subsequently had her peaceably arrested and placed into pre-trial detention.

When dealing with a regime like North Korea, there’s definitely something to be said for communicating to its henchmen in language that they understand, i.e., cross us and die. That, after all, is exactly the stance that Pyongyang takes towards Seoul, Tokyo, Washington, Beijing, its own citizens, disfavored foreign visitors including Otto Warmbier, and even immediate members of the ruling family. There’s no shame in telling a thug like Piggy Gangnam Style that since he lives by the sword, he should be prepared to die by the sword. The practical impediment is that he’s always getting up in everyone else’s face and rattling the biggest, sharpest sword. The rest of us are scared of him, and with good reason. He’s the third successive member of a lineage that starves, enslaves, or butchers everyone who gets in its way domestically and threatens to annihilate every foreign enemy within range of its missiles, a troubling stance for a government that construes as its enemies any party asking it to stop firing nuclear-capable missiles into foreign airspace or start abiding by minimal human rights standards at home.

Otto Warmbier made a foolish, tragic mistake in a moment of passion and paid for it with his life. As a practical matter, cautioning foreign tourists in North Korea not to disrespect the regime is like cautioning Canadian anglers and their relatives not to try to share the same section of stream with actively fishing grizzly bears. It’s only prudent. The disanalogy, of course, is that a grizzly doesn’t bear (heh) moral culpability for swiping a fool’s face off in a fit of territoriality. For that matter, grizzlies don’t usually go looking for trouble with humans. The ruling Kims, who are human, do. There are reasonable arguments, mainly ecological, to be made for coexisting with grizzly bears. There are no such arguments to be made for coexisting with Kim Jong-Un and his henchmen, except that they’re liable to kill us if we try to kill them. Kim Jong-Nam, the Tokyo Disneyland enthusiast with the deficient Spanish proficiency, wasn’t even assassinated for getting in his little brother’s way or threatening his hold on power, but for being an occasional family scandal who spent the bulk of his time traveling internationally on a deliberately low and apolitical profile. If a wildlife officer would blow a bear’s brains out because the animal is imminently or repeatedly threatening human life, why the hell shouldn’t a capable party euthanize an absolute dictator who won’t stop threatening everyone around him? The North Korean regime offers show trials, torture, artificial famine, nuclear proliferation, a standing threat to physically obliterate Seoul, and most recently the unexplained fatal medical neglect of an American prisoner it had held incommunicado for over a year on a fifteen-year hard labor sentence for what would have been a minor infraction in any country with the rule of law. We may owe ourselves or South Korea the restraint not to provoke another world war, but we sure as hell don’t owe Juche Porky and his goon squads a damned thing.

The unfortunate thing about Stauffenberg’s bomb was that fucking table leg. Sturdy German construction again.

This doesn’t have to be about punishment. Whether Kim is to be punished for his atrocities can be left to whatever awaits him on the other side of the veil to decide. This is exactly how I feel about Chapo, by the way. In retrospect, I wish one of the Marines who recaptured him had shot him like Khrushchev’s boys shot Beria. Chapo wouldn’t have whimpered as much in extremis, and the responsible Marine would have been an instant national hero in Mexico. Many of the guys who have been brought before war crimes tribunals have been pitiful has-beens (Eichmann in his Argentine shack, Saddam in his rat hole). Someone like Chapo, who’s still active and in touch with an army of hit men, is so conclusively guilty and dangerous that a trial would be little more than an opportunity for adversarial showboating and his continued survival itself is a threat to the lives and safety of countless thousands of people who have crossed his cartel.

The one difference in Kim’s case is that since he’s a state actor it might be possible to neutralize him by forcing him into an Idi Amin-style exile. That’s not a risk that I’m particularly inclined to take, and it’s certainly not a courtesy that I’d like to see extended to him. There’s a great deal of honor, although admittedly also some real risk, in putting a foot down and telling Pyongyang that the Warmbier incident is the last straw. Even if it’s a bit hypocritical for US officials to take such a hard line on a foreign government when their own government has an understanding of federalism licentious enough to allow states to deny consular access to condemned foreign convicts, they’d be entirely in the right morally to take that hard line and then either stand back or help out when domestic activists try to level consular access standards up for foreigners incarcerated in the United States.

This idea that, oh, we forgot to mention that the citizen of yours whom we disappeared into our gulag after terrorizing him in a show trial has been in a coma for over a year is really unconscionable. I suspect that the officials who released Warmbier for medical evacuation back home had an oh-shit moment during their negotiations over the prospect of repatriating his corpse. They probably had prison doctors telling them that Warmbier was dying, and as nihilistic and madcap as the Norks can be, they are not self-destructive enough to want to be the ones pronouncing an American political prisoner dead. Hell, the doctors were probably shitting bricks at the thought of taking the fall for allowing their prisoner to die instead of merely medically clearing him for torture, as instructed. They were in a position to save their own lives by getting him back home and not allowing him to die under their care in service to a hereditary megalomaniac who had his own uncle executed by anti-aircraft fire for falling asleep at a cabinet meeting. The news reports have had a lot to say about high-level diplomacy, some of it mediated by Swedish intermediaries, leading up to Warmbier’s release, but Pyongyang won’t give a credible explanation of what happened to him medically while he was incarcerated, and at least three other US citizens remain in North Korean custody, so there’s no reason not to think that prison doctors sounded the alarm about their maintaining a terminally brain-damaged man as a sort of in-house zombie Mao and successfully begged their superiors to get him the fuck out of the country before they stopped being able to keep him alive.

I know that we’re supposedly dealing with the most inscrutable Orientals here, but this is a regime with an uncanny knack for self-preservation in spite of its own extreme eccentricity and belligerence. It seems to understand that brinksmanship doesn’t work for regimes that go all the way over the brink. There’s some real value, then, in demonstrating to these thugs that they don’t get to start shit with everyone else and then back down at the eleventh hour, often in exchange for international financial sweeteners. There’s an extremely unfortunate realpolitik to the moral hazard of playing along with this family junta in the hope that it won’t lash out catastrophically, but the really honorable and effective thing for the international community to do would be to forcibly finish what North Korea has started. I feel rash just for suggesting all of this, but at the same time this is a pariah regime that thrives by repeatedly showing other, less vicious, more responsible governments that it lives in a parallel world without consequences of its own making and that there’s nothing that the rest of them can do about it.

Honestly, my best guess is that the Chinese will be the ones to cross the Rubicon, that is, the Yalu. Japan and the United States have sea buffers, South Korea is scared to death because its capital city is fully within the short-range artillery “kill box” bordering the DMZ, and Russia has only a few scattered homesteaders and the like who can be evacuated away from the border if shit starts hitting the fan. China is the country that has a militarily troublesome neighbor disgorging impoverished non-Chinese-speaking refugees into a number of its industrial border cities and generally stirring up shit while simultaneously angling for military aid and cooperation. For a number of years the Chinese Politburo has been getting awfully sick of all the Nork bullshit, and it’s historically educated enough to know that this wouldn’t be its first modern military invasion of Korea. Beijing’s frank amorality is precisely why it has devoted so much effort to establishing civilian business colonies throughout the Global South. Surely it looks at South Korea, not a fellow people’s republic, as a more harmonious and stable trading partner than the economically moribund, batshit crazily revanchist communist crime family in the North. As much as Red China doesn’t want to fully disavow Mao, it has little use for a egregiously dysfunctional neighbor whose government won’t stop reenacting the Cultural Revolution with extra doses of nepotism and family intrigue.

I don’t want to see another ill-advised international bloodbath (gee, like we have going RIGHT NOW IN YEMEN, for the most godawful geopolitical reasons), but I won’t be upset at all if someone gets in there and cuts the head off that snake. That’s a hermit kingdom the same way Ariel Castro was a hermit bus driver. Good riddance if it goes.

More seniors by the sea: spank you for your service

Maybe my cynicism comes at a personal cost. The turd is never the most popular thing in the punchbowl, and many have insinuated that I’d do better in life by being more positive, although few have had the courage to be forthright about it, since they know that I’d dress them down for being craven and brightsiders are not generally ones to enjoy being criticized for their chickenshittery.

On the other hand, positivity didn’t do jack for me back when I had more of it; I don’t count painfully tenuous reprieves measurable in months from the enduring hell of modern American downward mobility as victories, except maybe as the Pyrrhic kind, so I get the feeling that negative thinking or cynicism or whatever the hell else I may have that’s not safe for LinkedIn is actually the weakest link in the chain. And it’s not that I truly have no reason to be positive or hopeful: every time I cause a yuppie offense or discomfort by being poor (define however you fancy; the yuppie swarm certainly does), I count my loss as a victory and a gain. This is why I generally support sidewalk defecation in downtown San Diego. Pacific Beach, too. It forces yuppies to savor the same flavor from which they so assiduously shelter themselves at such great expense, to their own cash flow and to our civics. It shows them that a generational social climber from CB East may be able to buy her way into an apartment in PB (hella West), where the locals show more concern for the welfare of dogs than for that of their fellow citizens, but not permanent safety from, say, now, that didn’t come from a dog. It is praxis.

If I pretended that my country didn’t have a class problem, it would still have a glaring class problem. Some will win, some will lose, some are born to sing the blues, and others are born to use their eerie ability to mimic Steve Perry as their meal ticket out of the Philippines. That a band from the midcentury Bay Area put out a famous song semiconsciously advancing a Hindu nationalist’s resignation to the caste system is not necessarily as embarrassing as CCR. The aesthetics can always be worse, until they can’t anymore (e.g., John Fogerty’s solo career as an intellectual property defendant). So can the simultaneous inflation of the Mid-Peninsula real estate and cupcake retailing bubbles, theoretically.

Where, then, are the old-fashioned small-town values that will fix this crazy world? In your head, mostly. Small towns dumping their social services problems on big cities (or, in the Cougar’s annoying formulation, the big town) is as American as an apple pie on every mother’s dining room table and a dose of napalm on every VC hut cluster. The jungle: one had better run through it, old boy, not walk.

For certain demographics, running, not walking, away from small towns is a similarly good idea. There are, in fact, victims in these political economies. Many of them treat the poor like shit, for one thing, and they’re terrible to political dissidents. The meme that small towns are too wholesome even to carelessly fail anyone is as pernicious as it is absurd, but it has impressive staying power. No one believes such a thing about San Francisco for a hot second, but there’s no shortage of people who construe Norman Rockwell as a news photographer for every cow town rag in the land.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Curry County appears to be a product of demographic cleansing. It’s basically a matter of public record that Del Norte County maintains itself in the opposite fashion, by keeping a couple thousand of the most violent and troubled men more or less or working age in an exceptionally bad and very expensive state prison. That’s over two thousand jailbirds plus their keepers in a county of depopulating county of fewer than thirty thousand. Curry County’s population is growing, but mainly from infusions of honor: its 65+ population went from 28% to 32.1% from 2010 to 2015. Brookings and Gold Beach are tidy, pleasant towns, but I can’t believe that they magically got that way without any social services disincentives when Crescent City is such a mess and Eureka is a socioeconomic dumpster fire. The Census Bureau indicates very few infants and toddlers in Curry County, so the golden oldies didn’t move there to reciprocally honor their birthright citizen grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but it was awfully dumb of me to assume that these Boomers have any to thus honor in the first place. Not many under 18, either, but over 65? Many such cases!

It’s a categorical error, then, to assume that we’re talking about an organic community. In addition to the citizenship of the elderly (who do vote, so maybe it’s just another constituent service), in Curry County WE HONOR VETERANS. A number of counties in Southern Oregon, some of them with local governments that are run on a shoestring that’s frayed to the breaking point, have commissioned such road signs at their county lines instead of paying for actual government services. Maybe the Vietnam-era veterans’ activists wanted that more than they wanted a public library; the noise about Nam certainly comes from a subset that makes the whole lot of them sound like the Pettiest Generation. Let me tell you  about my trauma. I don’t need a list to tell any of you about how often I sleep in my car, but some of them need lists of symptoms for their periodic disability pension reviews, just for reference in the course of describing their own psychological states.

They’re really into Memorial Day in on the Wild Rivers Coast, so much so that the parade in Brookings cut off access to Fred Meyer from 101. Great job keeping the homeless from our coffee, there. I ended up taking a detour on, I shit ye not, Easy Street and going to Harbor to finish drying the previous night’s laundry before coming back in past some of the most hellacious oncoming traffic I’ve ever seen in a town of that size. In Capitalist America, parade rains on YOU! I know, I’m glassing everyone with my mug of bitter again, but I have a point here. None of that shit keeps me out of unbelievably weird and unhealthy socioeconomic situations. Joe Dirtbag is a pretty significant local civic poobah, but that never stopped him from bringing Lady Pisspan, Captain Flimflam, and Pot-o-Shit Friend onto his property instead of a toilet. If I wrote to the city council about his behavior and the condition of his farm, they’d immediately know who he is. I’ve seen civic and business leaders behave in ways that are absolutely execrable. I don’t project their bad behavior onto all civic and business leaders, but I have to assume that I can extrapolate some of it. Likewise, one might assume, based on all the ostentatious honor and thank-yous for their service and the like that are ritually shown to veterans that the United States consistently provides top-notch housing and medical care to veterans in need. In point of fact, it’s less trouble and more fun to organize a fighter jet flyover from Kingsley Field than to deal with the chronic scandalous mess that is the VA. Like Crystal Harris, we quite enjoy fun stuff. Unlike Crystal Harris, some of us don’t ever have anyone as thoughtful as Hugh Hefner around to maybe talk some half-sense into us.

What we do have, if we’re in Curry County, whether we’re of it or not, is KURY-FM, with its afternoon host intoning at length about how Memorial Day is “the reason for the season.” Dude seems to think that there would not be any sort of seasonal celebration of the start of summer absent America’s endlessly proliferating war dead. I don’t even feel comfortable with spiritually deracinated holidays, so I can’t be the only one the fucker’s lost with his sonorous piety. He also wants homeowners to call the Brookings Police or the Curry County Sheriff, at the numbers he reads out on air, if they see, say, a “meth-looking dude” prowling around their backyards, as if alert neighbors wouldn’t spontaneously call the police about obvious prowlers who appear to be high on hard drugs. It’s always nice to have a community radio station that doubles as a broadcast version of Nextdoor, since it’s unimaginable that such a spirit of neighborly vigilance would never mutate into hostile paranoia abusing state power to infringe on the civil liberties of people who truly dindu nuffin.

My favorite civic bullshit this weekend was probably the “Celebrating Volunteerism” newspaper extra. LOL. Love too promote volunteerism as a civic panacea in a county whose economy is based on interstate pension transfers from CalPERS and the Social Security Administration. Also love too travel in a county with such a strong volunteer spirit that it can’t keep its sheriff’s substations open during normal weekday business hours. There are local governments in Southwest Oregon that are deteriorating towards scopes of service worthy of early postwar Somalia. I realize that the HBD creeps will get their panties into a knot about how I’m comparing a Whitey Rez to the Heart of Darkness, but there’s no way in hell these counties aren’t socializing undisclosed costs onto state, federal, and out-of-area local governments. Douglas County has a particularly entertaining version of local self-reliance that revolves around rejecting tax levies by referendum because everyone expected the feds to keep paying the county a shitload of timber royalties for its public lands, even when the industry basically shoots its wad and the royalties consequently dry up. Curry County has dealt with reduced federal timber royalties of its own in recent decades, but for geographical and demographic reasons it’s had an easier time driving out its poors, or maybe more accurately swamping them with affluent retirees.

One thing that can be said for California’s fee-entrapment form of state government in this context is that it at least produces some government revenue, which is theoretically available for something besides Highway Patrol salaries. Josephine County has gone to the opposite extreme by running out of money to run its jail (partly due to a failed ballot levy) and not fielding police night watches.  It’s a shitty tradeoff, though: CHP saturation patrols that produce minimum court clearance fees of $25 over $4 worth of burned-out license plate bulbs versus needing a cop in an emergency and hearing the smooth sound of radio silence coming down on the night shift (on the night shift).

Toqueville commented on Americans’ over-the-top interest in voluntary organizations during his grand tour in the Era of Good Feeling. He also commented on country innkeepers and restaurateurs who charged so much for so little that they were the next thing to crooks, so for a people with so little in the way of personal business scruples we sure had a lot of scruples about the private morals of our neighbors. Toqueville caught the leading edge of the (Orwellianly misnamed) temperance movement and the proliferation of organized teetotalers’ societies that it inspired, and he questioned why a man couldn’t quietly take his water by his hearth instead of making a big public spectacle of his renunciation of alcohol. That’s my question, too. You wouldn’t believe the amount of seltzer water I drink in the privacy of my own car unless you saw the shambolic piles of empty cans strewn about in the passenger foot well. Left to my own devices, I hardly touch alcohol in any form. I do not, however, need a busybody to convict me of the need to do something that I’m doing already because it’s an order of magnitude cheaper than decent beer and significantly cheaper even than garbage like PBR, and I certainly don’t need a fucking meeting.

As an excellent bumper sticker puts it, “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings.” If I had to choose, I’d take a society of drunks, especially ones who sober up before operating heavy equipment. Drunks are less obnoxious and more prone to mind their own business. I don’t need some timid authoritarian cult follower trying to cure my phantom drinking problem because I unwisely mentioned that I used to drink a lot, years ago. AA combines the meddlesomeness of a camp revival with the administrative pointlessness of a student government meeting. I’d have to be lusher than the Hamakua Coast to even think about getting involved with that bullshit.

In Curry County, they’re able to do Robert’s Rules of Order dozens of times over for meetings to organize petty fundraisers, but they can’t find anyone to staff the sheriff’s substation in Harbor because, just a hunch, they’re too cheap to pay anyone for the trouble. I’m past the point where I’d sit on my ass there for free all day. They’ve got a sign on the door telling people with probation appointments to knock loudly if no one answers. That’s one case where, if you’re lucky, the door will not be answered.

A county government that can’t figure out how to secure basic funding from its own constituents wants its petty criminal element to look gift horses in the mouth on demand. What a fine bunch. They might think of tweaker burglary as social services taxation by other means. I can’t feel too bad for an electorate that complains about getting the Wild West when it refuses to pay for anything more than the Wild West.

A Damn Yankee’s stray thoughts on the latest official Confederate monument horseshit

The City of New Orleans–the municipality with the police department straight out of hell, not the fine-ass consist of Hoosier-overhauled all-American rolling socialism that will take you all the way up the river to the heart of the jurisdiction of another, perennially NBC-approved police department that comes modestly more indirectly out of that same horrid pit–recently undertook the ceremonial removal of a series of statues honoring some of the Southland’s sons of secession.

Proud Mary, pray for us and bless us, I guess. As we know from NBC and, if we’re a bit less civically embarrassing, from the news, Yankee cops never torture suspects in black sites for confessions to crimes that they didn’t commit, threaten to gouge a suspect’s eyes out with a Bowie knife as a way to get intelligence for Intelligence, weigh an enemy down in chains for a live water burial that is stopped in the nick of time by an up-and-coming detective who is rather bizarrely named after the local street system (just one of those differences of opinion that Hank Voight respects, as any sworn thug would), criminally harass and manhandle citizen activists with felony wiretapping charges for videotaping police misconduct, and/or gun down peaceable, retreating civilians in barrages informed by a combination of too much Red Bull, too much training, and too little command discipline. As we also know, perhaps from Richard Engel’s late-night live broadcast, hanging a sad old tyrant b’ism Muqtada for good measure after chasing him into a dirt hole in the ground and orchestrating the ceremonial Arab shoe defilement of his statues magically eliminates the need for civil society, state administrative capacity, police patrols, and the rule of law as bulwarks against years of helter-skelter mass-casualty bloodshed for years on end.

The city fathers of N’Awlins belatedly yanked (heh, I just said “Yank”) several statues of famous secesh from public property in cover of darkness and brought in a crane for a proper daylight Saddam-in-effigy hoisting of none less than Marse Bob Lee himself. This was done because it’s, like, literally 2017 already and shit, and maybe, I suspect, because Mitch Landrieu is literally a scion of the Landrieu family. The Landrieus, they’ve had Mitch, they’ve had Mary, and mercy, mah Lawd, Ah due decleyah, they’ve had Moon. The point being, the official removal of these statues had nothing at all to do with a hereditary politician being too shrewd to give up a gig that spares him the need to do honest work for a living and/or be a discreet family embarrassment ridiculed as a permanently “trusted” charity case. This was in no way a demagogic stunt by a grandstander who’s too white and too outwardly self-respecting to go full Chocolate City (like Ray Nagin, that sad crook who, for some awful reason, is now chargeable to you and me), but who, like any good little shitbird of a professional triangulator, never loses track of which way the winds are blowing, and from which swamp.

Shit, white boy. Can I be an ally without using that kind of language? Sure, I guess so. Can I have fun being an ally without using that kind of language? Hell no. Ellen wants me to have a little, and I’d have more of it if that horrifying, abjectly histrionic, socially climbing bull dyke took her badly-dressed ass back to Metairie and retired from public life. I’d sooner have gone to Coleman and listened to Robert Gisevius weep bitterly all afternoon than watch that bitch pollute my country’s television. Montgomery, where Bobby G. is being warehoused at our expense these days because that, too, is how we try to reify an NOPD that won’t blow you clear into the river with a twelve gauge because a public emergency is its latest excuse for charging around like a Latin American death squad, at least has something like scenery. I’m not saying that I’d get my schadenfreude from the misery of that sorry bastard; I’m just saying that some things (the long fugue of a cop who was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong attitude) are less utterly horrifying than others (a woman who should never have made it onto the traffic accident beat at the lowest-rated network affiliate in Shreveport but is, for reasons generally indicating that we’re a wicked and stupid people fully deserving our own collective punishment, syndicated nationally every fucking weekday afternoon).

There are worse Louisianans than Mitch Landrieu, then. Let us give thanks for the small blessings in our lives. Still, if you’re a New Orleanian, that dipshit is your mayor. I don’t have the Cajun-seasoned pride to know whether the jambalaya and the jazz funerals are enough to make up for that, but I do know, as a Californian, that free fish tacos at a Train deep tracks concert in the one clean part of Oakland wouldn’t be enough to justify a second Gray Davis administration. *Very Michael Franti voice* That’s the sound/of sunshine/up my ass….

Just a hunch, but maybe some of the Who Dat Ah ain’t nevah leavin’ da rivah pride is a red herring tossed out by wholesale thieves to distract goobers from, oh, the condition of the levees and the local police department’s recent history of renting its cops out to restaurants on private details during which they give customers beatdowns for criticizing the gumbo. As far as I know, that only happened once, but correcting it to the singular doesn’t stop a federal police force from looking like maybe a good idea in certain jurisdictions. Speaking of which, I understand the RCMP has a disused gateside foursome available for lend-lease to allies, including an emotionally volatile ginger, a professional storyteller, a guy who doesn’t have to go to Bourbon Street to get saucin’ like he’s in Tsawwassen, and a famous fish friend. Just you try to communicate to create a more electrifying story about seafood and spice.

Mercy, O’Hara, that again! And mercy, most of you are still here for Dubai Porta Potty, but at least I don’t use force of arms to compel y’all to shut your mouths. Gumbo Goombah, on the other hand, is as Southern as sweet potato pie, and he comes from a strain of Southern thought that never asks Admiral Farragut for thoughts on who might benefit from a permanent cool change.

For this crowd, statues honoring the secesh are public affirmations of piety, not the irreplaceable source of their faith. Their investiture with totem-like powers is rather silly. This goes for both sides. I guess I’m not going anywhere in Louisiana politics with an attitude like that, but what the hell, these are not mature expressions of political fervor.

On the secessionist side, it’s awfully curious that, of the losers in all American wars, the Confederates are the only ones with all this venerated public statuary. We don’t see monuments to Arnold and Cornwallis in Saratoga. Rommel and Tojo don’t grace the west end of the National Mall. Vietnam vets are so not Fonda Jane that the latter has taken to speaking publicly about her conversion to Christianity and whatever the fuck it was that she was doing with Ted Turner, not her brief flirtation with Ho Chi Minh, who was much more popular in Vietnam as a political and military leader than Turner is in Montana as an overly moneyed buffalo poobah. Even in Japan, a sovereign nation that bites its tongue internationally not so much because it will be cut off for fielding leaders who indulge in politically inflammatory speech as because it seeks to remain most Uncle Sam’s most harmonious military aid sugar baby and trade-surplus financial dominatrix, it is still widely considered rather edgy and tasteless for politicians to publicly commune with the Greatest Generation at the Yasukuni Shrine.

Sure, the Union had an interest in mending bridges with the subjugated Confederacy after Appomattox, but so did the UK have an interest in making nice with the dear departed colonies after the Treaty of Paris, and as I mentioned above, we don’t do ostentatious Redcoat statuary on this side of the pond. We were pretty sparing in the execution of Confederate officials, too: Jefferson Davis got to spend some time in federal chains for his trouble, but Robert E. Lee was given the deferential Hirohito treatment without intervention from MacArthur, so in the end it was mainly a few exceptional sadists (the Andersonville thug, for example) who took to the rope for their war crimes.

In the midst of this campaign of mass pardon, the Union also undertook the Reconstruction, an ambitious project, foreshadowing the Marshall Plan in some ways, to rebuild the South’s institutions free of the taint of chattel slavery and racial attainder. It was as Reconstruction faltered and then failed catastrophically, a bit over a decade after the conclusion of formal hostilities, that the Confederate statuary started proliferating in earnest. These monuments didn’t cause revanchist Jim Crow aggression against African-Americans; they were lagging indicators of a burgeoning reactionary political regime that was enforcing its will through ISIS-grade campaigns of terror.

The real problem was never some dipshit worshiping an idol of Marse Bob; it was organized terrorism, including Muadh al-Kasasbeh-grade public immolations and thousands of vigilante hangings. To this day, the fundamental problem is a carceral state that strategically targets black communities for the selective enforcement of laws, many of these governing victimless crimes, and the systemic abuse, most egregiously in the Deep South, of prisoners for unpaid labor, much of it heavy and coerced. On their own, the public statues to the Confederate generals would have as much political power as some sperg praying to a bedroom shrine of Father Serra and the Duke of Albuquerque for belated royal Spanish vindication against the usurping shrew QE I and that Swiss prick Sutter. They’re rallying points for a political culture that’s perfectly well entrenched and organized with or without them. They’re really just ancillary expressions of political power.

We can see the same thing with the increasingly gaudy courthouse monuments to the Ten Commandments in Alabama under that endlessly godbothering shithead Roy Moore. Moore was able to carry on his pissing match with the feds to the benefit of his judicial career, i.e., his political career, because Alabama’s entrenched political culture lavishly rewards such ostentatiously pious stunts. Alabama is littered from end to end with Baptist churches. So are some of its neighbors: as an organizer at Lutheran-Episcopal Disaster Response in Ocean Springs told us, “When there’s six of us and six of them, we tend to do things together.” If that stupid granite tombstone of the Commandments in the courthouse lobby was a ministry of Christian witness or a reification of Christian civic virtue, I’m Increase Mather. The public godbothering, this aggressive establishmentarianism, was already an inescapable feature of Alabama politics; Judge Moore was just a sheepdog marking the territory on behalf of the flock.

That’s really all anyone is accomplishing by becoming a party to these disputes over Confederate monuments. They’re pissing matches, almost literally so. Is the Confederate battle flag heritage or hate? Shit, white boy; get you a cracker banner that can be both. They retired the Southern Cross from the South Carolina statehouse after Dylann Roof shot up Mother Emmanuel. It’s so interesting that no one has ever committed a spree killing without inspiration from feverish internet racism message boards and a fixation on that particular insurrectionist flag. A nutty creep with a racial ax to grind shoots up a bible study, and the problem is obviously a controversial flag that mostly inspires others to fly the same controversial flag. Suddenly it goes from obnoxious political recursion to incipient armed RaHoWa.

The Raising Up of the Storm Roof gave the Unionists an unusually convenient opportunity to mark their territory. Mind you, they didn’t flex their political muscle by going balls to the wall over blatantly racist (and very blatantly classist) voter ID laws. Their conception of politics is mostly flipping the bird at Strom Thurmond’s grave as praxis. The latest monumental grandstanding in Louisiana runs along the same lines, except that in this case the retirement of the secesh from public life didn’t obviously have anything to do with anything else. God knows what kind of wag-the-dog trick Mitch Landrieu may be trying to perform; in a city and, for that matter, a state that dysfunctional, there’s no end to the shit that an unprincipled politician would have the motive to sweep under the rug. New Orleans is a Potemkin Village Disneyland surrounded by a barely governed third-world city that is sinking progressively into the outer reaches of the ocean. Then again, the Landrieus have always been good Democrats, so they certainly wouldn’t want the city to rise again in a regressive fashion. Besides, bayou Louisianans have always cherished that seafront lifestyle; this progress merely allows them to live more intimately with their beloved Gulf.

In Post-Soviet America, Gulf of Mexico vacations down at YOU! Ain’t that, well, actually not nearly the scariest thing about America, let alone Louisiana. Orleans Parish has just about the most underfunded and understaffed urban public defenders’ office in the United States, and Louisiana has absolutely the highest incarceration rate on earth. Other countries don’t do federalism the way we do it. In Canada, Belgium, and Switzerland, it’s a vehicle for harmless linguistic snits. In Germany, it’s mostly a budgeting partition. In the United States, it’s a license to raid black urban neighborhoods for plantation slaves to staff Angola. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. Genuine criminals are caught up in the dragnet, too, but that’s practically incidental to the true purpose of this regime, as is any personal reform they achieve. This regime is ordered to the socialization of breeding costs for an enduring plantation system without having to commission privateering raids in West Africa, since it’s always so expensive to bless the rains. Even by the licentious mainstream humanitarian standards that are generally applied to judicial and prison systems in the United States, the Louisiana system is extreme.

Ultimately, the Society for the Prevention of Kwesi Millington for Sheriff loses the energy to fight truly egregious injustices, which are wildly out of control in Louisiana, when it wastes its time and energy bitching about venerable statues of the Confederate officer corps and the waving of the Southern Cross as a bloody shirt for the discount salty crackers. The conspiratorial way to look at this is to conclude that it is entirely by design. By the way, you pretty much have to be on the Asperger’s Spectrum to give a shit about the Confederate political flag, that is, the official colors of the government for which the rebels were ostensibly spilling so much blood. Plenty of people talk about the Stars and Bars, but hardly anyone, especially in the North, even recognizes it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people refer to the Stars and Bars when I’m certain that they have the battle flag in mind. For a long time I conflated the two myself.

Do I care if some loser wants to fly a Rough and Ready city flag over a State of Jefferson flag over a Gadsden Flag over the Cracker Banner over Old Glory herself? Frankly, I don’t, Butler, you shifty creep. My sense of patriotism is not so easily wounded because it is reaffirmed every time a well-governed, duly constituted federal force sits a goon squad of local-yokel tyrants the fuck down, neosecesh or not, and tells them how exactly how they are going to behave as a condition of their presence within the sovereign territory of the United States of America. That’s why these colors don’t bleed; it isn’t the damn dye job. But maybe that’s why I do so much of my politics over the internet. It’s easier to argue over totems than values, and totems seem to be what rile up the screechers.

FYI, Amtrak’s other trains out of New Orleans terminate in New York City and Los Angeles. No matter which direction you head, if you go to the end of the line, you end up under the jurisdiction of a horror show of a municipal police department, and if you want to get to the least horrific of the three, all you’ve got is a train every two or three days that, if it’s running on schedule, pulls in at, like, four in the morning. The real reason to leave on that midnight train to Georgia, believe it or not, is that it leaves at a vaguely civilized hour: namely, midnight. I know, Wow Very Explain. Even so, I like my train service like I like my Deep Southern government: efficient, accountable to its customers, clean (sort of), maybe on time, smooth, air-conditioned, and, oh hell yes, federal.

The bear ate my homework

It should be axiomatic by now that the grand Russia conspiracy theory is a clumsy psyop against the American public, but this is the Democratic Party in the time of the Clintons, so should hasn’t got a thing to do with any of it. The Clintons have never been ones to accept responsibility for things that they can blame on someone else, and they’re getting worse with age. At the same time, they’re entrenching themselves as pillars of the political establishment, where before they were McDreamy the Lace Curtain Trailer Arkie and his rather frighteningly icy shrew of a perennially scorned wife. A hundred million dollars plus of baksheesh plus whatever hits the Clintons did or did not order on their political opponents can do that for a power couple, and we know that they’re capable of politically strategic homicide because Bill didn’t give their political opponent Ricky Ray Rector the opportunity to have dessert.

The Russia thing is pure Clintonworld agitprop. Shattered reports that the Clinton team settled on the Kremlin scapegoating campaign within 24 hours of the Queen’s loss to the Donald. The public bearbaiting certainly hit a fever pitch out of nowhere in a hurry after the election, and the Cathedral hasn’t piped down about it since. Mencius Moldbug is a bit eccentric and maybe goofy, but he seems spot on about the existence of an elaborate insiders’ conspiracy under the auspices of self-dealing institutions and the direction of a malign clerisy. This conspiratorial explanation makes a hell of a lot more sense than the coincidental alignment of a fiercely independent press with the entire Clinton agenda, kooky geopolitical grievances and all. Contra Moldbug, perhaps, this conspiracy may be less a megalomaniacal social engineering project than a function of the Clinton machine’s Ephesians 3:20 disbursements of cash, exposure, and collateral contracts to its legions of camp followers, allowing C. S. Lewis’s robber barons to rape us a bit more softly than his moral busybodies would, or perhaps to kill us not quite as softly as he did with his song. That was wrong, but so is Hillary Clinton being the successful fugeetive from justice and Danbury that Lauryn Hill was not.

You only thought this story was going to get better. Of course it didn’t; it’s still about Billary, and their Infernoesque concentric hell on earth of sycophants, mercenaries, and similar trash is still all about Russia. The Russia conspiracy theory isn’t even fun. The US government using secret bases around Roswell to house its very illegal aliens? That’s fun. Hitting Century Boulevard with the Inglewood mental health community for a conversation about planes that may not actually be on approach to LAX because, well, do we really know that, now? That’s definitely fun. The Russia thing? That’s just tiresome. It’s a constant, self-serious lecture about breaches of propriety from the lying mouths of people who actually have none themselves and are cravenly smearing an agreed-upon scapegoat as a distraction from their own monumental political incompetence. People who are actually crazy can be great entertainment, but the bearbaiters are really just lying sacks of shit who won’t stop bothering us with their endlessly repetitive, ever more mindnumbing lies.

Even if they start to believe their own bullshit, they still lack the polish of the properly crazy. They’re aren’t wandering around a light rail station yelling about dirty-ass motherfuckers who can’t wipe their own asses; they aren’t that novel, or that eloquent. Or so honest, but that much should go without saying. That’s a true story, regardless of whether homegirl is lucid enough to correctly identify the motherfuckers in question or the dates, times, places, or forms of their filth. Her other story, about niggas and prison, was also true, if mangled. I didn’t catch all the details of that one, except to ascertain that they were all over the place, but as the internet autists have taken to saying, there are many such cases.

The Russia stuff didn’t happen. Most of it is as nonfictional as Harry Potter. That’s another story that Democrats have come to enjoy far too enthusiastically, too, less as an opportunity for finite literary escapism than as a biography of what their own lives should be and would be if it weren’t for, oh, Donny Pisspotter and the Kremlin School of Wizardry. Russia didn’t hack US voting systems. Russia didn’t unleash targeted mind control operations against US citizens to compel them to vote for a man they otherwise would have abhorred. Russian agents and assets did cultivate business and political relationships with US counterparts, some of these relationships being unseemly, but so do the agents and assets of every other fucking country on the face of the earth that has more sovereign wherewithal than Somalia or Yemen. Not to put too fine a point on it, Russia dindu nuffin. Big Bear Man dindu nundat, comrade.

The omissions from the Russia conspiracy theory are damning. It’s nothing but shamelessly selective outrage. Michael Flynn may be something of a crook who wheels and deals with foreign unsavories, but there would be nothing unusual about that for a retired flag officer in the US armed forces, or a serving flag officer for that matter. Regardless of what else is objectionable about him, he didn’t set a precedent for dubious foreign entanglements on the part of the officer corps in the time of Fat Leonard. Where do these fuckers live? Mars? Shit, the entire US military is formally entangled with unsavory foreign governments, some of them blatantly hostile to the United States. We’ve got our national panties in a bunch over rumors and feverish inferences that a salty dog general was party to a handful of backchannel communications with Kremlin counterparts in the course of helping set up an administrative apparatus for a first-time president-elect from scratch, and meanwhile we give Saudi Arabia a pass for allowing no less than its midlevel officials to fund and orchestrate 9/11. This is because Saudi is our ally. That’s what allies do for each other: hire suicidal psychopaths to hijack one another’s commercial aircraft and fly them into office buildings on weekday mornings for maximum casualties. Duh. Note, too, that the smearing of Flynn as an international crook worthy of the Logan Act is coming from partisans of–who else?–the Clintons, lately of the Foundation and the Global Initiative, formerly of the Lincoln Bedroom. What crooked foreign government have those two not conspired to gladhand for bribes?

Hostile governments, by contrast, promptly cable the FBI when they have surveilled a US resident associating with known radicals back in the, back in the USSR and have reason to believe that he may be planning bad acts on US soil. The Tsarnaev clusterfuck sure makes the FSB look more concerned than the FBI about public safety in the United States. Put yourself in the shoes of a mythical FSB agent who wishes the United States and its residents harm. You just watched some shithead with a Green Card come back to Mother Russia and yuk it up with a bunch of beards whom you’ve had under surveillance for being involved in a religiously inspired conspiracy to commit secessionist political violence against your country. If you let the shithead go back to the United States unmolested, he’ll be in place to take out his rage on his adopted land and people. If you alert the US authorities, they may decide to yank his Green Card and send him back to Russia, his country of origin, where he’ll become your problem until he finds some other country to take him in. If he doesn’t find a third country to bother, this will turn him into a permanent liability for Russia.

Do you tell the Americans about the Conclave of the Caucasians? Of course not. You let the shithead take his Green Card back to the United States whenever he gets bored with his communion with his old crowd and revert to being a threat to the US’s public safety, not Russia’s. Unless you care about the safety of Americans, that is, and can’t abide the thought of knowingly allowing a religious thug to hatch plots in his birth country and then abuse his immigration privileges to threaten the life and limb of his neighbors in his adopted country. In that case, you alert the G-Men to the Caucus of the Caucasus and encourage them to keep an eye on the creep.

No, I’m not kidding. The FSB, the KGB’s direct successor, was a more credible protector of US public safety in this case than the FBI. The FSB is the agency that took Tamerlan Tsarnaev seriously and sounded the alarm. Of all the Muslims the FBI has surveilled, often without cause, and of all the Muslims its informants have baited and goaded into half-cocked terrorist plots (“Hey man, wanna do some jihad?”  “I dunno, I think I’d rather play some more GTA, but if you really want, yeah, I guess we can do some jihad.”), why the hell couldn’t it put a surveillance team on Tsarnaev, keep an eye on his contacts, tap his phones, and figure out that he was building a fucking bomb and planning to use it? How the fuck is this the one bomb plotter they managed to miss after they were specifically and directly warned about him by a foreign intelligence service? Even if they suspected that the FSB had gotten a false positive, they could have quietly kept an eye on him, just to see if anything was up. They could have checked with local police agencies around Boston to see if they had any intelligence on him. Dude had all the peaceable nature and ethnic goodwill of a young Mark Wahlberg, the Russians were rattled enough about him to reach out, and he’s the one bad motherfucker the combined forces of the FBI and the sworn Southie Irish could neither catch doing bomb stuff nor take down in a meathead’s honeypot? Ooh, I’m getting a raging clue! I think I’m gonna shoot clue goo all over Uncle Joe!

Ah, Maahky Maahk. The basteahd put a guy’s eye oot in a bah fight, but now he’s up theah on the silvah screen, playing a steyahff seahgeant.

Of course these assholes would rather turn the rumor mill against Russia than blame the FBI for getting three people killed and dozens of others liberated of their legs by dropping the ball on a thug the FSB had specifically told them to monitor. Look at how they’re suddenly rehabilitating Jim Comey, all because that oaf fired him and then ran his mouth again.

John Kerry didn’t act anything like this after he lost his own run for the presidency. I wasn’t gung-ho enough to knock on doors for more than a few minutes, but I was gung-ho enough to help man the Kerry-Edwards table at the fairgrounds in a two-thirds Republican county and field rhetorical questions from hostile ammosexuals. When Long Face lost, he was enough of a statesman and a class act to accept defeat graciously and honorably, without running around stirring up a moral panic against a foreign folk devil. There’s been nothing like 2016 (and now 2017, because we’re a wicked people deserving of our punishment, or else horribly unlucky) to bring into contrast just how classy that Masshole was, as a contender and then as a loser. He coulda been one, Brando. Okay, maybe he couldn’ta. He was a weak candidate and a terrible communicator going up against a deceptively skilled communicator who was backed by the mother of all political war machines, but he didn’t make an ass of himself when his Quixotic run flopped in the end.

The grievances about bad processes back then were credible, or at least plausible, mostly having to do with Republican electoral skulduggery, which had a blatant precedent in Florida in 2000. Hence my beloved bumper sticker with a solid blue map of Florida and the caption, “Electile Dysfunction.” I knew conservatives who quite enjoyed it, too. But that was under the leadership of a failed presidential candidate who had some fucking scruples and self-respect and respect for the electorate that had declined to elect him. It wasn’t a simpler time, but it was, at least in this narrow respect, a much less disgusting one.

What we’re hearing now amounts to omg MedvedKekKek1488 called me a cunt and posted some Pepe memes over on Reddit. We’re hearing shock and outrage that the Kremlin hired some internet trolls (which the Pentagon would never do) and bought some PR in US news outlets (which the Pentagon would never do). I couldn’t even get anyone to call me a faggot when I jumped into a raging flame war over Donald Trump on the KMTR Facebook page and noted that Kwesi Millington for President would have been an improvement over that thread (“As they say, he’s electrifying”), so I’m not sure how ubiquitous this Russian troll army was, especially relative to the total numbers of the creepy sockpuppets who keep getting caught using DoD IP addresses to threadjack alternative blogs with utterly retarded drivel.

The Russia thing presumes that voters en masse disregarded everything that they were able to personally observe about their own circumstances and the condition of their lives and everything that they could discern about the candidates for the presidency from countless sources, formal and informal alike, because they had been brainwashed by a almost amateurish Kremlin international mind control operation. The brainwashing aspect of this conspiracy theory is mostly projection; it takes a brainwasher to hallucinate a brainwasher, and the mainstream media constitute most of the ministry of information of Brain Washington. I’m with Sarah Palin on this much: it is in fact a lamestream media, although in the strict sense of the term, the mainstream media are PC Principal-juiced to the lame, dumb ass of TIMMMEHHH, and that’s why they’re dangerous. Objectively, the horseshit about Russia should be too lame to go anywhere, but it’s been propagated among the intelligentsia and wannabe intelligentsia with incredible success.

As someone who has watched otherwise engaged, critically thinking loved ones fall for this horseshit just because it bears the imprimatur of Serious News Organizations and act like I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid for not putting credence in it, I resent this propaganda campaign more deeply than I can describe. Everyone responsible for it should be ashamed to hell, but I know better than to think that that crowd is capable of healthy emotional feedback; it wouldn’t be able to turn its tricks at work if it were. Think “trick” more as in “Tricky Dick” and less as in “thicky trick.” To paraphrase no less than Peace at the Center himself, people have, uh, uh, uh, whores, but some have better classes of whores and don’t glorify it on public television and so forth and so on.

It stands to reason that the Harry Potter set would project credence before the most ridiculous alt-factual propaganda onto its opposition and accuse the latter’s voters of rolling in the deep in a political fantasia. People who cast themselves in their own meritocratic wizard fan fiction wouldn’t be ones to credit a television oaf’s downmarket voters with any rational reason for derailing the ambitions of their yuppie queen. Again, this is not a fun kind of crazy like smashed in his knees with a two-by-four, smashed in his knees with a sledge HAMMER! That’s fun–from a distance, at which God may not be watching us, but at which I most certainly am keeping an eye on the poor man’s Peter Gabriel, as one does who treasures his own kneecaps. You, too, could have a speed train, but not at Market East, cracka. The Harry Potter stuff is just a bunch of self-important assholes who are obsessed with overrated children’s literature because they have yet to mature to Tom Wolfe and show no signs of doing so in this lifetime. Meanwhile they’re pointing and sneering at factory workers, miners, truckers, and farmers, accusing them of being out-of-touch juvenile losers for holding down real jobs.

If the 2016 election had been decided on the conscious, explicit basis of how voters felt about a Democratic Party whose most catered-to constituencies form their politics and their aspirations around bumptious fantasy fiction (including their beloved alt-presidential Bartlett bullshit, too), Trump would have clobbered the bejeezus out of Clinton in a 400-vote electoral sweep that would have spared him the need to indulge in Kobach-compliant White Whines about how Democratic electoral fraud was the only reason he lost the national popular vote. It’s a testament to the graciousness, pragmatism, and openmindedness of the American electorate that anything close to a national plurality of voters was willing to vote for a ticket burdened by all the shitty cultural baggage of the credentialed high end of the Democratic Party. It ain’t me, lawd, it ain’t me that did any of that, but it was quite a few others.

Hillary is the unlucky convict who managed to get shot, gassed, electrocuted, and hanged for the same crime, except that she did it to herself. The same thing is true of the Democratic Party for slashing and burning a path to put that cackling shitbeast on the top of its ticket and then dredging up an unctuous, swish neoliberal obscurity (who conveniently evoked thoughts of sexual weirdness, even among staunch Democrats) to run for veep, on the bizarre electoral logic that he’d bring enough of a home field advantage to carry Virginia. As I think it over, I’m almost certain that Hillary would have won the general election if she had chosen Bernie Sanders as her running mate. As her lieutenant, Bernie would have brought a huge (yuge!) amount of energy and credibility to Hillary’s campaign, enough to easily flip the rust belt in her favor. As a recently ratfucked surrogate trying to reunite the Democratic Party against an opponent whose sworn platform dovetailed significantly with his own, he had no such credibility. Plenty of voters who still admired him didn’t believe what he was saying about the party and the candidates it was now running in the aftermath of his defeat.

The reason Hillary didn’t choose Bernie as her running mate is the same reason why her campaign and the DNC ratfucked him: they all despised and distrusted him and did not want him in a position of influence. Their revealed preference was blatant and a lot cruder than they probably thought it looked. They were sheepdogging us, and enough of us knew it and resented it to sink her campaign in the end.

For a party that swore it needed all the solidarity it could get from points to the left, the Democrats have expended an awful lot of energy smearing Stein voters for ratfucking them. As if we give a shit. Do I really sound like I care that Jill Stein’s other voters were a bunch of anti-vaxxers and healing crystals dipshits? No, that isn’t quite right. Do I sound like I care that butthurt Democrats believe Stein’s constituency to be crunchy energy-field morons who cause measles outbreaks in Pacific Palisades because of some nonsense that they read about iatrogenic autism in Goop? Of course not. I’m not that fucking petty. The rest of her constituency could have been a total freak show and I still would have been, yes, #WithHer. As it happens, I don’t believe these broad-brush smears any more than I believe  broad-brush smears of Trump voters as a bunch of knuckledragging, hopelessly nostalgic bigots. Besides, as proud as I am to have contributed to a 5.5% county-level vote for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, their national vote totals sucked. Sure, they were third-party dark horses, but even for an obscure third-party ticket they performed weakly.

There’s a strain of Democratic apologist that figures that, well, now, that’s a rather grandiose stance for a California voter to take towards a state-level race that Hillary Clinton didn’t have a chance of losing. Under this condescending gloss, it was acceptable for me to waste my ballot voting for a couple of hopeless fruitcakes because it was going to be canceled out by my mature fellow citizens, i.e., it didn’t make a difference. It did for getting the Green Party over 5% in Humboldt County, bitch, and as someone who likes the idea of a political movement that is on the left but not the fucking Democrats, I can stand by that vote. But what would I have done had I voted in a state that was up for grabs?

I probably would have voted for Trump.

Yes, you read that right. I can’t say so for sure, since I’d been seriously considering voting for California to MAGA, too, but it would have been a factor for me. “How can you POSSIBLY vote for that man?” rhetoric SHOULD backfire. Any candidate whose pitches boil down to a demand that all educated people show their cultural solidarity and intellectual self-respect by voting for her is morally bankrupt and politically weak. These are both things that a great many voters thought about Hillary in the first place, so the sheepdogging frenzy complemented quite nicely their fears of an overbearing, hostile clerisy taking over the Democratic Party against the wishes of its voters.

Republicans and independents had similar but starker reasons to be distrustful, insofar as they didn’t reluctantly regard Hillary as the closest thing to a Republican running in the general election. I have a Republican friend in suburban Philadelphia who voted for Clinton because he was horrified by Trump. Shortly after the convention, he told me, “My only hope at this point is that the Republican Party can rescind Trump’s nomination.” After the general election, he said, “I voted for Hillary and immediately felt bad afterwards.” I felt bad that this fellow, one of the most upstanding people I’ve ever known, couldn’t find anyone running for president to vote for who didn’t immediately fill him with a sense of regret and disquiet, but I can’t object to his discernment that he had to vote for what he considered the lesser of two evils, even a lesser evil whom he found appalling in her own right. Millions of American voters found themselves in a similar position last fall. Some find themselves there at every election. This friend of mine seems more willing to work within the two-party system than I am, or than many other voters are, for that matter, certainly including the tens of millions who are eligible but don’t turn out. Good God, Y’all/Absolutely Nothing is a popular third option, although not one that I can personally countenance supporting.

The friend I just described comes from exactly the constituency that Ed Rendell has said the Democratic Party can and should tap to balance out its losses in the rust belt. Think about that: a sleazy but frankly popular former mayor of Philadelphia and governor of Pennsylvania wants his party to assemble a new coalition from people who feel either no affiliation with his party or a traditional affiliation with its opposition and who feel like shit for having reluctantly voted for its headliner candidate. Can you see now how this party keeps losing elections?

I wonder whether Bernie Sanders isn’t just delineating the extent of the rot in order to have an irrefutable case ready when he finally sets up a third party, loosely resembling the early Republicans, as the new political home for the entire downmarket left and center. He’ll piss off a bunch of bougie Democrats if he turns out to have been on a surveying mission all along, but he’s already pissed them off; much of the hardcore Hillary wing is already apoplectic about what he’s done to their party (i.e., win back constituencies that FDR would have been horrified to accidentally alienate).

This is what Lambert Strether calls deploying the blame cannons. Clintonworld is itching to go full Bull Connor and the fire hose on a critical mass of its own base, which it also insists it needs to win over in order to take back Congress and a large minority of state governments. It’s message is basically, hell yes, we’re on your side, how can you possibly say otherwise, you miserable bastards. Whether the goal is really to win us back or punish us is hard to say, and beyond a certain point–say, the Bern Unit fielding Democratic candidates who aren’t greasy shitbirds–it becomes irrelevant. This is why Tom Perez is trying to ride Bernie’s coattails to something other than centrist welfare press obscurity. Shit. Shit. Shit. This is really impressive. The victorious faction is trying to draft up the hill behind the guy it just defeated. Wow Much pyrrhic Such bizarre None gracious Many hubristic Omg victor caldera Very confuse.

#TeshTips: Look up the second last part in full quotation marks. I was surprised to discover that there wasn’t just one of him. But at least I know when I’ve been watching too much television.

The Clinton team’s smears of swing voters are legendary by now, but they still bear recapitulation just to reiterate what an object lesson in political disaster the whole damn campaign was. There was the basket of deplorables fuckup, which was enough on its own to tip half a dozen states into the shitter. This comment was a gaffe in the truest sense, an indiscreet, politically incorrect confession of unspeakable personal feeling. Voters heard this and immediately knew that it was consistent with what they had feared about her ill will towards them. Clinton’s campaign, the sloppy, unfocused mess that it was, was unable to even start the damage repair that would have been necessary to recover from this scandal, and remember, at its head was a woman who valued repeat visits to Hamilton over first-time visits to Wisconsin.

It’s a major county in Ohio, too, you know. Or maybe you don’t. Clinton was famously touted as a policy wonk who had a masterful command of granular details about everything, for what good that did her in counties that she all but explicitly smeared as dens of reactionary hillbillies. This is another thing that’s alienating about all the wonks and avowedly educated poseurs who couldn’t imagine how Trump ever won the damn thing. They looked down on anyone whose gut feeling or anecdotal evidence said that Trump had a good chance of going the distance as an unqualified barstool bullshitter, in contrast to professionals like Nate Silver, who measure shit. Yeah, their own. The entire Democratic establishment amounts to grown children going, okay, is that a little poopy, or a big poopy, or maybe a medium-sized poopy, and meanwhile they somehow don’t notice that the baby hasn’t been fed or changed all day and the house is on fire. I fail to see what’s wrong with taking schadenfreude in the discovery that overeducated quants can be paid and celebrated for dissing observant, engaged private citizens as lunatics for arguing that the dark horse has a real chance and then, on election night, come away looking like idiots and sore losers. Baby, it’s three am, I must be ornery. That isn’t the only good feel I got on election night, but it is not one that I’m embarrassed to admit having indulged. Remember, that dork Silver still gets paid to look like an upstaged fool. Me, I ain’t never touched dem shine ricebowl; dat kine, it ain’t mine.

What’s worth looking at in a bit more detail is how badly Hillary misjudged the national mood with her yuppie feminist shtick. This turned out to be a monumental screwup. It wasn’t that the country was fundamentally unready for a female president. An environment of systemic misogyny wouldn’t have let Clinton anywhere close to the presidency, and the Clinton campaign made it impossible to isolate the variable of womanly leadership in general from the variables of I swear to God I hate that bitch and by the way that’s a crime family. A key Clinton strategy to was to conflate all of this and shame reluctant voters for not being ready to elect a woman to the presidency. The campaign explicitly ran on this theme with its famous #WithHer rhetoric, and it almost ran with the even more entitled “It’s Her Turn.” As I’ve said before, when that’s the kind of arrogant language that cooler heads have to veto, a campaign is fucked from the start. It’s like starting a golf game from a sand trap while hip-deep in a water hazard.

And it wasn’t just the arrogance or the entitlement. Hillary and her crew were mouthing off with this feminist shit in a time of enduring mass male unemployment, educational underachievement, incarceration, disenfranchisement, unhappy bachelorhood, involuntary celibacy, and general malaise. (Hey, Jimmeh.) If the campaign had actually paid attention to granular data, it would have understood the gist of this situation perfectly well and made an effort, as Bernie and Donald both did, to propose real solutions to the grievances of marginalized men. There wasn’t even any need to explicitly appeal to a sense of men’s welfare; speaking frankly and sincerely about the plight of marginalized working and unemployed people would have been enough.

Instead, Hillary lashed out at the alt-right, a movement that was oriented in large part towards explicit solutions for aggrieved men. This was part of a well-established pattern on the Clinton machine’s part of dealing with dissastisfied constituencies by telling them to quit their bitching, suck it up, and vote for Clinton. It successfully pissed off voters from across the political spectrum. Anyone familiar with the alt-right would have recognized that it was taking seriously some very serious objections that American (nay, Western) men had to the way they were being treated, men who had been left in the gutter by decades of hostile neoliberal policy. Instead of telling disadvantaged men and their loved ones what she was offering them, Hillary went up on stage with a script and bitched about Pepe. In other comments, she or her close surrogates complained to no end about BernieBros, basement dwellers, chicks who were on Bernie’s side only because they were trying to hook up with his misogynist bro followers, and other backwards reactionary elements that any good Maoist outfit would also denounce.

The really stupid thing about this strategy was the assumption that it would alienate only unemployed and menially employed white males. Cue endless carping about the white working class, if you can stomach more of it. This campaign could not fucking imagine that its smears of white working people would be taken personally by working people of other races or that its smears of marginalized, adrift men would be taken personally by those men’s loved ones or, for that matter, that its smears of entire American communities would be taken personally by anyone in a position to swing the election. Oh hai, Ohio.

Stunningly, Hillary and her campaign could not appreciate the optics of running a former first lady with a notorious lech of a husband as the human vanguard of careerist feminism. They couldn’t imagine that this would possibly look bad. In their world, you see, career women were respected, and Hillary was a career woman, not an obscure Ivy League lawyer and commodities inside trader who shrewdly married one of her country’s most preternaturally talented politicians. They were too myopic to appreciate the first two thirds of their candidate’s biography. They had a few million true believers in their orbit who believed this nonsense about Hillary being a model of womanly independence rather than a craven influence-peddler who had parlayed her cockhound husband’s juice into a carpetbag position in the US Senate. (*Very Tom Lehrer Voice* I’m from Massachusetts, and we feel a certain sense of superiority over the other states because Massachusetts is the only state with three senators.) Being unable or unwilling to recognize how sparse these true believers were nationally, they inevitably were also ignorant of how far out of the mainstream their politics were and of how widely despised they were as yuppie scum.

Here they were running a notorious feminazi harpy who had somehow been the one woman to stand by her man while her man stood fully erect for that woman, Miss Lewinsky. The calculating insincerity of it all shone through. Tens of millions of American women would have divorced his sleazy lying two-timing ass. Tens of millions more would have put up with it in some fashion because he was providing for the family or was a good lay or a fun companion but wouldn’t have done so for the purpose of setting themselves up in spousal political careers or cashing out for nine figures’ worth of FIRE sector and sovereign wealth fund baksheesh. Hillary wasn’t just involved in a possible marriage of convenience to a manslut; both she and her husband were tied up with every vile, murderous, explicitly misogynistic government with the money to pay them off. And here this bitch had the nerve to lecture every feminist and woke male ally in the country to vote for her for the sake of women’s empowerment, even though she had possibly the worst feminist praxis of any public figure in her country.

This was a flagrantly bogus campaign by a notoriously insincere and inflammatory politician infamous for despising her own fellow citizens but also ordering them to vote for her. The notion that Hillary Clinton is a crazy bitch didn’t come out of nowhere, and it is not an opinion of male privilege. Where the hell did any of these people get the idea that women never hate other women? Never mind; there are entire textbooks devoted to such bollocks, and their authors, unlike yours truly, get paid to write that shit. Chelsea Clinton is now among them, because mass-casualty crashes of the Staten Island Ferry never kill any of the New Yorkers who could use one. But really, Staten Island always was for the white (-ish; to wit, Snooki and the Situation) scapegoats that an urban overclass so cherishes when it’s too chickenshit to speak ill of losers in the South Bronx. #RaceTogether.

Did it piss off the men, too? Duh. In a sense, the Clinton campaign was a wholesale shit test which she narrowly failed. The Big Dog has too many other options at his disposal to keep passing the Big Bitch’s shit tests (probably one reason why he read embarrassingly treacly neoliberal drivel about “the conversation” of his marriage at the Democratic National Convention). He isn’t the only man who’s driven into the arms of whores by such behavior (many such cases!), but he has more money to accomplish this than most (few such cases!). He’s also the one who famously socialized the maintenance costs of That Woman through the White House internship program and the existing socioeconomic structures of the medical field in Los Angeles. (More #TeshTips: If you’re doing well in it, not just good, that ain’t what you call it, and the kinds of doctors you’ll take into your marriage bed with that kind of language aren’t generally the kinds who are worth having.) This is a fellow who has, uh, uh, uh, whores, and we all glorified on public television his heterosexuality. No, I’m no saying that Lewinsky was a hooker; she was way too crazy and had shit for boundaries. But hey, it was an expensive unconsummated relationship for the taxpaying American public but a free series of blowjobs (and some gross stuff, according to the Smoking Gun) for the leader of the free world and shit.

That said, not all shit tests are designed to be passed. Hillary has a reputation for cursing Secret Service agents into the curtains, and those guys aren’t wimps. As in Alaska, the women are men, too. It’s not like she’s just picking on some shlemazel pool. She hurls abuse, and reputedly vases, at her ultra-alpha husband, and once the outburst has died down, he rolls his eyes and rolls into the sack with whoever is tickling much more than just his fancy at the moment. She hurls much more inexplicable abuse, totally without justification, at the most dutiful hoteps and shanty Irish and Mormon soldiers of the law in the land, and they start the mental notes for their memoirs from behind the curtains; they might as well get some kind of deferred payout for their trouble, too. She smears entire demographic swathes of voters as losers and then turns around and demands their votes on the basis that she’s running against a vulgar nut who hates women, unable to imagine that a number of other women might find the oaf more fun and less creepy than they find her. As Madeleine Albright will aver, there’s a special place in hell for them, notwithstanding the possibility that hell can include a public sphere of recurrent Hillary Clinton, Your Fleek Abuela, complemented with occasional lectures from Your Rabbi, Madeleine Albright. Voters start to believe that their suspicions have been confirmed, namely, that Hillary Clinton is verily one crazy bitch.

Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for all of this.