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

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

They couldn’t even make it nice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cat people. Many such cases!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messing with Texas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bitch you could fly to Calgary instead, eh?

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

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

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

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

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

Mercy, Mr. Charles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They do nothing but ask for money

For a society so insistent on self-reliance and so hostile towards dependency, America sure fucking does a lot of fundraising. It’s constant. GoFundMe is a national fixture. Think about the name for a second. GoFundMe. It’s the next thing to the Dunkin’ Doorman’s employer, Gobias Industries. Feel free to Gobias some hashbrowns, too. That’s our health insurer of last resort: a major-league skimming operation slicing a thick cut off the top of every poor bastard’s fundraiser for emergency cancer treatment, co-owned by a scumbag who uses his prominent normie liberal podcast to do his own affiliate marketing in the name of “policy,” i.e., by weaseling the nation away from the policy disaster for his bottom line of universal single payer.

We have our own children run lemonade stands. We have them sell Girl Scout cookies, Boy Scout wreathes, Trail’s End popcorn (big yuck from me, fam), donuts: an endless variety of shit that, other than the Lenten Easter cookies (Main Line girls meet Mormon boys), the customers don’t particularly want. It’s supposed to teach the little ones about budgeting and the work ethic and shit. Oh? Net income per hour fluctuating over and under the minimum wage with, who knows, 25-125% overhead, bothering strangers to buy shit, and this is supposed to be a good idea? This isn’t an object lesson in not signing up for Amway?

Cool. Normal, fully functional country. I’m definitely not wasting my time by not attending a series of committee meetings to organize my trips to go canning and see if there aren’t some coins in the fountain at the shopping center.

Tocqueville is teabagging us again. We just have to replicate a dizzying variety of basic services that any proper government would preemptively provide, knowing that it would have hell to pay with its constituents for failing. We have school tax streams AND school bake sales. We send our kids out to sell horseshit knickknacks or pizza or hold car washes to raise money for band trips, and then we pack them off to band practices at five in the morning. What in all hell is wrong with us? Like, maybe the clue about their work ethic and dedication is that they get their asses out of bed in time to muster with their trombones at 0500 and then sit through a full day of academic classes, all so they can pep up the football meatheads and their fans? Guess they won’t learn the value of teamwork and time management just from being in a marching band. Obviously their parents couldn’t just give them a ten spot or a Jackson and leave them to discover how far it goes on iced tea tallboys versus Top Ramen versus Burger King versus bong-ass schwag. Hey kid, take all the bottles you want out of the bin and haul them down to the machine at the Meijer, to stack that cash.

There are, alas, those who lack the time or the energy or the organizational skills to do the good Tocquevillean shit in person, but they’re covered, too. If you can’t personally do the organizational work, just go fly a sign. Why else do we have GoFundMe?

This servile dysfunction come to mind for me often, sometimes without a noticeable prompt, but in this case it’s because KQED is at it again, and it isn’t even fund drive season. At least, I don’t think it is: as they say themselves once or twice an hour, these are uncertain times.

Their current call to action, that action being alms, is a claim that some bullshit charity I’ve never before heard of–that is, not one of the dozens that are immediately recognizable as vague sources of undisclosed amounts of money to fund something or other at NPR or PBS–is offering a $100,000 challenge grant. They’re always thanking the Dorsey Foundation to Jack Reed Hoff, Man or whatever the hell for supporting “member-supported” public media.

This time it’s some new outfit that’s the same as all the others: gifts in, gifts out, grifts on the side. From time to time the names of these dumbass foundations float through my mind like so many turds in the bowl, along with the shitty corporate muzak they play for the commercials, or maybe we’re calling them sponsor appreciation, on the NewsHour, shards of trivia dislodged from the lives of people whose names I know exclusively because they got attached to money that gets sent to PBS. That is literally all I know about them. Jack can’t cook but he remembers Zabiullah Tamana or God fucking knows what the hell any of this shit is supposed to do. It’s actually Jack Kent Cook and Kendeda, I think, because I’ve inevitably cluttered up hard drive space with free-floating bits of this crap, too.

Gloria in excelsis, they’ve got yet another charitable foundation lined up now to dribble out a piss-ass little bit of money to KQED, but only if listeners match it, but only if the foundation doesn’t take its financial inducement back when ritually offered it, as stipulated in its contract with the station, in which case it might not be able to disburse the funds so as to offset its own tax liabilities. It’s like the time the Cafua Family Irrevocable Trust, among other donut outfits, went to Buffalo to get sued by the Benderson Family 1968 Trust. I’ve heard of this because I looked into a Dunkin’ on Western Avenue in Albany that was hiring over the winter. We inevitably have too few lawyers and too many lawyers, at the same time and in the same country. It’s impossible to get a competent capital defender if you aren’t OJ, but you’re in some good-ass luck if you go around beefing with other families’ trusts and trying to tear down the church where everybody’s grandparents got baptized and married because your donut empire absolutely needs another location in Pittsfield, right there and right now.

It isn’t ordinary kids or adults or elders who don’t know the value of a dollar. Some fucked-up outliers show up from time to time, entirely clueless, but the average individual has a more or less rough idea of how much it costs to get, like, a Quarter Pounder meal or an A&F T-shirt. They may not be good with money, but they’re somewhere in the ballpark for amounts of money that they regularly spend. That’s the easy part. Try to explain any of this to Congress. Amtrak wasted $1b out of the $40b that Lockheed-Martin and Fat Leonard’s companies assuredly would have stewarded with utmost prudence and care. We can’t afford food stamps but we can afford to get our asses kicked for setting Iraq on fire.

It’s in exactly this spirit that KQED is prostrating itself before a two-bit charity for a grant that, even if doubled, will pay for the compensation packages of one or two of its reporters, if not less than one. That isn’t a cheap business. It takes money to hire a reporter who isn’t just a talking sack of potatoes in a suit. Scott Schafer has been on the job forever, and he’s pretty good at it. Does he sound like he grosses $50k with no benefits to work at a major radio station in San Francisco? Get outta here. They got him to narrate one of their degraded pitches for listener support to trigger that dumbass challenge grant anyway. They’re either bullshitting or outright lying about the conditions of the grant, but the assholes upstairs don’t care.

Does Scott have more pressing things to do with his time than voice work for a one-off fundraising project that might more or less cover his salary? That’s the wrong question. He’s just the help. We’re failing to ask why the cunts who run NPR would ever care.

KQED airs some dogshit programs from the mother ship and produces some of its own, but in the meantime it does some fine, important, timely work. Its executives and development officials still expect the reporters and hosts who, you know, actually keep the front of the house from going dead silent to help them grovel before an obscure, superfluous family charity for chump change.

They say they’re doing this to meet the spring pledge drive goals in advance. Cool: take your medicine now and get it over with, or wait to take it later, with /crooning Carly Simon voice/ anticipation. By medicine, we mean giving us money, bitch. Duh. Again, this is jack shit for a radio station budget, but did Americans suddenly learn how to do rough mental arithmetic using factors of ten? Of course we fucking didn’t. Wow Much orders Such magnitude. Very confuse. Wow. Is KQED more expensive than a Safeway run? Is a cow pie bigger than the offerings in your cat’s litterbox? Is a 747 bigger than my Focus? Who knows? KQED might cost more than a tank of low-test gas, but if you think about it, or don’t, $100,000 or $200,000 in a 100% liquid discretionary fund available for thicky tricks or Amtrak fare or lunch at Adel’s once the Dread Ailment passes or a Chinese buffet run with a thicky trick (Is that still a good conservative institution, del Mastro? She’s an American, but is she a Conservative?) would be a nice little kitty, as he said. It’d be, like, a lot of money.

Hey, it’s just another institutional cancer, living its cancerous lifestyle, chasing its bliss. Father is grateful for the $10k endowment available for the parish’s K-8 school not in spite of the endowment’s capacity to yield gas money for the school van, but because of it. Dickinson College is insatiable at $500m because its endowment goes on playdates with Swarthmore’s. Harvard? Dear God. Just fucking expropriate it. Just remember: the NewsHour doesn’t air commercials for Consumer Cellular, Raymond James, and BNSF; those are, uh, benefactor appreciations, or messages from our sponsors, or, you know, they don’t exactly offer a name for the things. They demur.

Ye cannae imagine why, love.

If you give a bum a ten spot he might blow it on Olde English. We can’t do that. Spending charitable grants on malt liquor is too sensible.

Karolying for the Ceausescus in our national December

The problem with menstruation is that it means you’re exercising too little and eating too much. We all know this. You wouldn’t have to spend so much time bleeding out of your vagina if you maintained a healthy workout regimen and an appropriate 900-calorie daily diet, and you wouldn’t have to shit so much, either.

On the other hand, shitting less would present fewer opportunities to joyously lose a lot of weight at once. We do weigh-ins in this business.

Bela Karolyi often comes to mind as the one making straight the path for Larry Nassar, himself infamously straight. Lawrence of the Labia didn’t have to hang out a shingle to lure in victims; he had Karolyi’s gymnastics program to channel victims into his “care” and pay him a reliable salary to molest them. As they say in certain ethnic neighborhoods back east, this don’t a speaka wella Bela.

This is our daily shitposting, which is good and is its own defense against the scolds, but it’s more than that. Bela and Marta Karolyi were savvy, politically astute operators who defected to the United States at an extremely auspicious time for what they were selling.

They were perfect made-for-TV redbaiting material, landing on our shores in the heady nationalistic months following the Miracle on Ice, ready to show the world that even old commies were game to help us kick commie ass. It was then and still is now an embarrassment to Ronald Reagan’s hardline right-wing hagiographers that he was a preeminent diplomatic president; letting the Gipper grip and grin with these assholes helped take other assholes’ minds off his much more famous, and cordial, working relationship with the rather decent Mikhail Gorbachev.

Meanwhile, neoliberalism was turning in earnest from what it had been under the Carter Administration, a mild reformist balance to the sclerotic, inefficient central management of national industries, into the virulent, wantonly cruel, radical governing philosophy that it has been ever since. Reagan did his grandstanding in the tacitly Christian God’s name about how we were done with Jimmy Carter’s killjoy practical Christianity as a national touchstone, all that concern for others and the vulnerable and shit. There are those who say that these were just the lines his movement conservative handlers were feeding him, and as I’ve noted before, Nancy was astrological enough to help the Burmese junta site their next capital city, but Visions of a Sunset was by now getting old and a bit senile, and he was never particularly reality-based in his rhetoric or the thinking that informed it. (This makes the lucidity of his talks with Gorbachev all the more impressive. The guy was only sometimes shitting his diaper with a vacant look in his eyes while Oliver North and Alexander Haig fought over the launch codes.)

In concert with neoliberalism, although in theory diametrically and angrily opposed to its right-wing expressions, identity politics rose throughout the 1980’s. The timelines did not align neatly; explicit forms of identity politics had been nationally prominent since the 1960’s. One of the gross curiosities of the eighties, however, was that right-wing extremists, disingenuous as ever, started to adopt the id-pol frameworks they denounced women and racial minorities for using and apply them to their own allegedly beleaguered status as conservatives and Christians, both sic enough that you’ll need to grab your own barf bucket and allow me the exclusive use of mine, in the selfish spirit of our age.

The contrast can be hard to hear through the noise, but it’s there. For MLK, Jimmy Carter, and Fred Rogers, Christianity was a moral calling and guiding light that they strove to follow or, if they failed, to seek and find forgiveness through God’s grace. Mr. Rogers, Protestant Franciscan, preached the Gospel at all times, through words about anything but God. The ascendant Christian zeitgeist under Reagan was something else altogether. Once and in some circles still a moral beacon, as Sundown in Simi Valley himself proclaimed in his speechifying about America as the city on the hill, Christianity was now ever more explicitly and brashly a tribal identity. It was a cause to complain about ridicule from godless liberals and demand official intervention to protect their feelings, not to refrain from strongarming meatpackers’ unions on behalf of corner-office cokeheads and do anything lame like paying laborers their due wages.

The Karolyis were secular figures, but they shrewdly exploited the morally relativistic postmodern zeitgeist of their new home, these mores holding that we should celebrate our differences because diversity is our strength. Here they were: scrappy, plucky outsiders; immigrants coming to revitalize a moribund American athletic business. Hell yeah, another trend to get in on before it’s cool.

All the fucking stars aligned for this couple from hell. They were sticking it to the commies back home. They were standing up for the American Way and chasing the American Dream. Those who objected to their rage and brutality were ingrates ignorant of their own immense privileges as Americans, living in this greatest nation on earth where, unlike Communist Romania, a child had no need to sacrifice her own childhood and body to gymnastics to get out of an economically dead society and seek a better life. Critics were ignorant of the differing cultural norms animating the Karolyis, norms that might teach us a thing or two as Americans.

This celebration of the Karolyis raised some questions that mostly went unanswered. If America was so free and prosperous, why on earth were these terrors in a position to physically and verbally abuse minors in do-or-die pursuit of athletic excellence? Why were they allowed to bring their inhumane Eastern Bloc training regimens to the United States and impose them without being enjoined by the courts or having their athletes removed by child protective services? They acted execrably, even in public, after they came to the United States; if they acted similarly as gymnastic coaches in Romania, their behavior would be an exceptionally strong indictment of competitive athletics in the Eastern Bloc and the socioeconomic conditions driving young people into athletic training programs. Romania exported maybe not the best-in-class transit buses to shitlib-heavy local governments in the West. The buses weren’t yelling bloody murder at their passengers for eating a square meal. The Karolyis didn’t speak well for Romania as its expatriates.

The aura around them was suffused with pathetic Near-Orientalism. We’d be out of our place to judge them for practices that we might find unduly harsh but whose cultural context we did not understand. We’d be out of line to impose our chauvinistic child welfare standards to Mr. Karolyi, this John Paul II of the Pommel horse. It was a totally Orwellian public relations and peer pressure campaign to preemptively rehabilitate both of these thugs while they continued to abuse American athletes on US soil, in loco parentis and under official competitive auspices up to the level of the teams representing the United States in the Olympic Games. They benefited from a chameleonic double standard that shifted constantly to their favor as they needed a good word to cover for their bad behavior.

It was some classic All-American shit. In the longue durée of Anglo-American history, it dated back not to Plymouth Rock, but to Holland, where Puritan parents were deeply offended and scandalized to see their children turn into proud little Dutchmen (and women!) and to hear their Dutch neighbors complain about their “loose hands,” the local term of art for habitual child battery. Before that it dated back to the Puritans’ uncomfortable time in the original old country, jolly old fucking England, whose civil authorities distrusted them as subversive religious zealots. Covering for that nasty son of a bitch and his cunt of a wife was as American as not summarily detaining Bobby Knight with all necessary force for disorderly conduct. One does not stand up to such authority figures around here just because they’re out of control and need an immediate Chill Cullen. It’s unseemly to do that. It’s scandalous.

As immigrants, Bela and Marta Karolyi were akin to Wernher von Braun, not to the refugee owners of some pho joint. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I’m more a House of Noodle and, God help me, Golden Town partisan, and that I rarely darken the door of Sam City, The Pho King of Albany.) A particularly conspiratorial take, probably unsupportable but at least fun, is that their defection amounted to a DIY Mariel airlift, that the Romanian authorities were secretly relieved to be free of these criminal undesirables, even at the expense of a Western propaganda coup for capitalism and the American Way. My quick and dirty research found that, per Wikipedia, Bela often clashed with the Romanian authorities. It’s conceivable that some of these clashes were with officials troubled by his brutality and admonishing him to tone it down. This is likelier than everybody else in a position of leadership in Romania finding him perfectly normal and appropriate, every bit as much the vicious son of a bitch as any other Romanian.

Americans have always had spotty, heavily distorted understandings of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc. The Karolyis immigrated from a part of the latter that was especially obscure to Americans. East Germany and Poland made modestly accurate impressions on the US media and public; we knew less about Romania, the Karolyis’ geopolitical homeland, and Hungary, their ethnic homeland prior to the modern realignment of European borders, than we knew about outer space. The potential for bullshit, misdirection, falsehoods, and propaganda in general was huge. Under our state of popular ignorance, there was no reason for them not to be Romanian culture personified, or universal Eastern Bloc culture for that matter. It was a fucking live-action bildungsroman for a nation growing too soft for high-impact sports, not an ethnography or even a collection of reputable, reasonable amateur observations.

We might as well have declared Bobby Knight the personification of American culture. The same people who consider the Karolyis’ behavior acceptable consider Knight’s behavior acceptable. We’ve got some sick fucks, and they get mighty sore when any of the rest of us challenge their efforts to dictate the national culture by, for example, limiting their influence over physical education curricula and athletic programs in the schools. At press time, they’re shitting bricks over California’s new legislation, due to be implemented in 2023, to overrule the NCAA’s thoroughly sleazy and ulterior amateurism rules and allow student athletes to personally and directly profit from their names, images, and likenesses. The usual spectator shitheels always get their panties into a bunch when the entertainers get uppity.

The difference between Knight and the Karolyis is that Americans are oriented enough in American culture to form independent opinions about what and whom Knight represents with his history of disgraceful outbursts. We’re pretty disoriented, deracinated, and narcotized, but we aren’t too far gone to decide for ourselves whether Bobby acts just on his own behalf or lives in accordance with our treasured national folkways. We’ve never known shit from Shinola about whatever mishmash of newfangled Comintern programming and legacy Austro-Hungarian culture produced the Karolyis, or at least was ambient around them when they became special just the way they were.

Culturally, the timing of the Karolyis’ defection was next to perfect. They didn’t just have our combination of ignorant exoticism and off-again, on-again Bircher paranoia to exploit; they also had our proliferating interest in multiculturalism, and an unusually unexamined claim on one of the cultures making up the cultural quilt covering the salad bowl that had replaced the melting pot. Some of this may be my early upbringing in Palo Alto. My memories from Walter Hays Elementary School circa 1990 include a talk and demonstration by an Ohlone mother and son, both rather fat and visibly poor for Palo Alto, about being Indian, and a lecture by a depressingly morose blind guy about what it was like to be blind. Cool, I guess that sucks, but why is the district more eager to teach us about that than about negative numbers?

For all I know the chinks who now own the town may have put a stop to that horseshit. No Palo Altan ever raised me to use language like that, but I do notice that it is very often property owners whose precious feelings we are admonished to consider. For that matter, I left town before middle school, so it’s hard to say for sure what hidden coarseness I missed.

What I very much remember from my childhood years in Palo Alto is the emotional energy emanating from athletic cultures that I participated in or observed from outside. This is a valid form of analysis, even retrospectively. It’s batshit to assert that children are unable to emotionally read the adults in their lives; they depend on such readings for their survival and welfare, and the more accurate, the better.

I abhorred football back then, as we all should now. It’s Robert Speed’s thermos at Dennis Geyer’s hands to all available heads all Sunday afternoon, and I’d say that doesn’t Sound so smart. *Most brameworthy on-duty neurosurgical voice* Calm down, Dennis, it’s just a game. On the other hand, I often caught glimpses of major league baseball games, and the players always appeared healthy and well-adjusted. The contrast I perceived between these professional ballplayers and competitive gymnasts could not have been starker. I got a pretty uneasy vibe off figure skaters, too, although I don’t think I was as uncomfortable watching them as I was watching gymnasts. The Bay Area produced some impressive local skating talent (Boitano, Yamaguchi), and I didn’t discern an aura of barely suppressed mood disorders in skaters in general. I must, of course, offer the caveat that it became hard to recall my prior feelings about figure skating very vividly a couple of years after we moved to Pennsylvania, in the thick of the Buttafuocan Era, when Tonya Harding fucked Nancy Kerrigan up. I’d never heard of either of them prior to the attack, but my immediate reaction was that Kerrigan looked like a diva-ass bitch and Harding was a badass grownup in a sport not overflowing with maturity.

I don’t think I could have named, placed, or identified either of the Karolyis until a few years ago, probably sometime in my thirties, but I could tell by the 1988 Olympiad that competitive gymnastics were a bad scene doing bad things to girls who should not have had a thing to do with them. These memories are nonspecific but emotionally vivid. I remember nothing verbatim and couldn’t have reconstructed any comments the same evening I’d heard them, but I absolutely without a doubt remember comments by American adults about Eastern European coaches and athletic programs that I construed as attempts to terrorize American children and whip us into shape, and I can swear that I perceived these same American adults to deliberately and very selfishly be letting American children down to make a point and provide for their own entertainment.

I don’t recognize the Karolyis from childhood memories, but I must have seen them on television, and I very much remember their type, as something untoward that should not have been allowed around children in positions of authority, anywhere or ever. Casually watching or just being around Olympic gymnastics broadcasts gave me some of my first inklings that the foreign nationalities and upbringings of bad actors were being used by American enablers as justifications for their bad acts. Gymnastics had a similar energy to child beauty pageants, which I think I first consciously learned of some years later but whose existence astonished and horrified me. Everything about these spectacles screamed out about adults who should have known better deliberately failing to read unmistakable cues of distress from girls under their care. negligence and mistreatment of a gravity that, had I personally witnessed it, I’d have been tempted to report to a trustworthy adult.

In retrospect, I gave gymnastics and the Karolyis much too generous a benefit of the doubt. I thought I might be overly sensitive and overreacting to stressors that other children were resilient enough to handle, even if they should have objected and stood up for themselves. Knowing now what shitbaggers there are in USA Gymnastics–at the very least, the Karolyis unwittingly allowed a shockingly prolific pervert to serially molest girls and young women under color of medicine on their watch–I now figure that I was right to perceive red flags. There were responsible adults at the time who called out red flags in the Karolyis’ behavior; the tragedy was that they got shouted down by amoral cultists for being killjoys and not respecting all the culturally appropriate hard work that the Karolyis and their athletes had done to get to where they were.

My instincts about child beauty pageants were vindicated by JonBenet Ramsey. Like, come on, the only person to get murdered in Boulder is a six-year-old girl who had been involved in that creepy shit? Lube up your glove hand and finger-fuck me, Larry; if her parents weren’t good for the deed, they had friends (‘friends”) on the pageant circuit who were. One of the highlights of my trip to Michigan for my cousin’s wedding a few years ago was a drive-by of the Ramseys’ blufftop mansion in Charlevoix, the one where her brother lived through high school. There are those who say that he did it; I’m agnostic about this, and just looking at how his sister was prodded by their parents to dress up like a fucking tart at the age of four or five, I can’t expect anything good out of the grown men who watch that shit, or, if I think about it, of the women.

It’s almost indescribably offensive to have it so much as insinuated that we, as American peons, are unqualified to judge the Karolyis by the cultural or legal standards of the United States, our land and the land where they chose to defect and do business coaching child gymnasts. They’re hunkies? Well, Christ on the Cross, Mindszenty, what in all hell has that got to do with child abuse? Nasty son of a bitch and his harridan of a wife got on the outs with good old Nicolae and Elena, moved here to be celebrated on the sports pages for abusing American girls in the name of athletic excellence, and we are disrespecting various Eastern European cultures by criticizing them?

Fix my neck pain through my bussy, doc. This is the kind of shit that provokes people to report their own siblings to CPS. They had their athletes working out on untreated broken bones. They had some of the most physically active adolescents in the country on starvation diets. The US Government learned of Nazi and Imperial Japanese officials committing such atrocities and tried them for war crimes. 900 calories a day as the competition diet for physically active juveniles who were still growing? How stunted did these shitty freaks want their girls to be? This is the kind of shit we hear about from the ass end of Hemet, over in that trailer that the neighbors refuse to discuss with visitors. They could take this shit out to Pervert’s Flat in Rural Antioch. It’s not like they’ve never associated with a sex offender.

Spartan athletic culture of the Austro-Hungarian Empire my fat white ass. I can’t make it through the buffet at Novak’s without at least one waitress passing by the mound of sausage and spaetzli on my plate and heartily encouraging me by all means not to deny myself seconds. I’m well aware of the differences between ethnic festival ethnics and ethnic ethnics, in ways that most Americans apparently are not, but are we really saying that the gym camp food Nazi is like that because he’s a hunky? Were Dahmer’s, uh, tastes representative of all krauts? I assume Rader’s one of us on that side of my family, and Wettlaufer obviously is. There have been sexier nurses, but even though foreign languages just about could have been one of my majors, I always took Lynn for an Anglo-Saxon-Celtic sort of mix.

A foreign visa applicant found to have a background like Bela Karolyi’s would be deemed criminally inadmissible to the United States. There’s no getting away with that shit and not also being a member of the Saudi royal family. Defections are handled differently, for compelling enough reasons, but these reasons do not prevent the authorities in the United States from intervening to stop foreign nationals present here from engaging in ongoing patterns of criminal activity against minors under their care and authority.

The authorities drop the ball in child abuse cases worse than the Karolyis’ on a regular basis. What’s exceptionally rankling in theirs is that they got handled with kid gloves for being coaching hotshots who immigrated in the early years of celebrate-your-heritage posters as elementary school homework. Those of us who are morally clearheaded and alert know goddamn well what they are doing and what it has to do with their coming from the Magyar fringes of Ceausesculand. They’d be no less out of line to come here and act like that if they’d grown up on Mars. This is yet another situation, among the countless, in which Fred Rogers proved himself practically the only bleeding-heart liberal on the boob tube who didn’t descend into a swampy,, ethnically inflamed pit of moral relativism. Mr. Rogers believed in universal human truths and moral absolutes. In his neighborhood, a child could always turn to a trusted adult. Always look for the helpers.

Bela and Marta aren’t fucking helpers. This was one of the amazing things about USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. Every mandatory reporter on that whole scene turned out to be a total derelict covering for predators or personally a predator. Who would a victim tell? The coaches who are starving her and ordering her to work out on broken bones? The crooked university president? The dean of the medical school, who was sexually coercing medical students?

One of the bizarre details about the Nassar scandal that I’d missed until I started skimming Karolyi materials was that he had groomed gymnasts for his sexual advances by sneaking them food. That pervert played the good cop by secretly bringing his victims snacks. He was a fucking medical doctor.

The moment I read about that, I knew that Bela would have been more upset with Lawrence of the Labia for helping his girls violate his strict feeding regimen than for sexually assaulting them under color of medicine. That’s exactly his character. Larry was an unbelievably gifted liar and actor, and Bela was an angry, possessive martinet. There’s no way this wasn’t a case of Eichmann pulling a fast one on Hitler. The cold-blooded, mild-mannered doctor who was able to talk to mothers about theodicy while digitally raping their prepubescent daughters in the same room lied to the emotionally volatile control freak coach with the interest in compulsory anorexia about why the bitches on his team were so fat. The guy convinced women in their late teens and early twenties that all medical procedures were conducted through the vagina. He probably got the same thrill by keeping secret his smuggling of contraband food into girls’ hotel rooms.

I should see if he can’t fix my head through my ass. He’s certainly screwy enough to be a psychiatrist. Just don’t ask me to explain why the Arab here has the Radovan Karadzic energy and the Hungarian-Romanians have the Nidal Hasan energy.

Speaking of coaches, I learned maybe 24 hours ago that Felicity Huffman discovered as a child that she is the product of cuckoldry. If it was good enough for Kenneth Fitzhugh to find his wife’s lifeless body at the bottom of the stairs, only to find himself in an even bigger house, ruing that blood told, as it always will, it may explain some of the Muffman family’s parenting strategies. He came from a solidly middle-class family that settled in Cumberland, Maryland; she came from a family of Money Wasps in fancy-pants Westchester, where Mother had a friend. That’s what one’s traditionally got in Pennsylvania, but so it goes.

As is so often true, prostitution would have been an improvement. The wages of sticking one’s dick in crazy is, well, that. Look at that sorry bastard, standing by his woman throughout their public humiliation for her quite superfluous striver scam, that over-the-top effort to ensure that their daughters would grow up not just rich and privileged but eminently presentable. He’s so often said to be impressively down-to-earth for a movie star, and that profoundly embarrassing social climber is the love of his life. The aura of henpecking from behind the scenes is strong. It’s what he gets for not sticking to* working girls. (*And in. #Giggity.) As Charlie Sheen explained in that dispiritingly majestic interview comment, you’re paying them to go away.

While we’re at it, here’s a cursed prophecy: Filliam H. Muffman are not breeding into a Darwinian dead end. Their lineage is not in our time to go the way of Abraham Lincoln’s, Mark Twain’s, or Luther Burbank’s. The Muffman girls are being raised with too much solipsism and self-esteem to be so self-loathing, or so crunchy bachelor with such a pretty young lady inquiring about his possible interest. Other chains may break; this one, like Billary’s and those binding the United Kingdom’s prolifically useless royal shitheads to their storied pedigrees, shall hold strong. These ones operate with a guile and a depravity that Bristol Palin cannot fathom.

This is the leadership class that we peons have disappointed so grievously being so overeducated, underemployed, and unaccomplished. This is what we fail to match in our failure to adult. I frankly don’t care to hear one fucking word out of the mouths of anybody associated with these crooks and creeps about the Millennial maladjustment of young people who are not personally pimping out their own children to such abusers for their families’ advancement. This is the class of absolute scumbags that gets us to loathe ourselves for not being more successful, prosperous, and accomplished.

The problem is that youngsters spend too much time and money on avocado toast and not enough on sexual favors for Brett Michael Kavanaugh. Ooh, yeah, Amy, show me how to tart myself up, mama! Hamana hamana, this big pussy, she gon’ purr! We just need to suck it up (ew, what’s “it?”), buckle down (not sure I like that one, either, given some of the neighborhood paraphilias), study hard, and recognize that Larry Nassar’s chronic employment at MSU had nothing to do with a dean of the medical school, who employed Larry Nassar, totally being exactly the pushy quid pro quo sex pest who would employ Larry Nassar.

Think about any of these characters or their associates criticizing students for getting poor grades. Fuck them for that. Fuck them all. Bitch-ass Tiger Mom was telling us that we weren’t studying hard enough for success, and meanwhile she was telling her students that they weren’t dressing sluttily enough for a sitting federal judge, now a sitting justice on the US Supreme Court subsequent to his livecast tantrum before his interview committee, all of them members of Congress. #LeanIn, bitch, and wear a low-cut top when you do.

This is ever so much worse than what I suspected as an extreme scenario when I was an undergraduate or a high school student and regarded some, but by no means all, of my school assignments as bullshit. We’re doing an abrupt reexamination of the shady “scientific” “research” done by purportedly reputable scholars using Jeffrey Epstein’s largesse, on the basis that Jailbait Jeff is problematic (who knew?), and it turns out that a lot of these guys were abject charlatans and quacks. It’s an inscrutable mystery of neuroscience how any of these men (and, in this case, very much not women) were disreputable when their patron was the sex island registered pervert with the Bang Boeing who sought to impregnate the world’s womanhood with his seed and have both of his heads, big and little, cryogenically preserved for future Jose Canseco sci-fi-style reanimation.

Let the team doctor molest your college wrestlers over their stated objections and you might make it into the House of Representatives; do the yeoman’s work at the high school level and you might make Speaker. Put out for me, Coach! I mean, put me in Coach! I mean, mercy, what DO I mean? This is why we stay in school, to learn success, and get involved in sports, to learn character.

Our national leadership class is the NAMBLA edition of Dr. Tobias Fünke. J. Denny Dundiddly is one of the least blatantly predatory of these creeps, and Lord knows he did some damage with his downhome prairie companion version of the DENNIS Method. Keillor was all right sexually, but God what a twee, smarmy, wheezing blowhard.

Be well, Be best. Show me where he kept in touch with you on the doll.

That Karolyi-Nassar symbiosis, though. Holy shit. The gentlemanly child molester who snuck his girls food in a league with the chaste starvation ranch meathead who barked at them that they were fatties. Isn’t it just fucking beautiful? These men saw something in one another. That something was the providential enabler of their worst personal vices. And the *A-Yagshemazh-Ma* wife was cool with this shit because she found it gratifying to abuse girls herself. Damn, that’s another American cultural movement that the Karolyis adeptly exploited to their advantage: shit-tier feminism, based on the premise that bitches never give each other stitches.

I can Harding believe it.

On the plus side, and to Ali G’s satisfaction, Tonya looks like she may have tried feminism a time or two, but not the fart-sniffing kind that produces you-go-girl horseshit like Title IX Sports. That is so not how the world works unless we make our small corners of it work that way. Because at the other end of Christine Blasey-Ford’s emigration journey, we know who’s cutting another line of Daddy’s Courage and humming the Bobby Sox Song on his way from the Court to the court.

There’s no bottom to this depravity, and there’s no telling how long the simmering popular rage will continue to barely tolerate it. This might be, for our elites, a good December to remember the words of that ancient and venerable Romanian proverb, reputed also to be popular in parts of Soviet Russia, and to step into Christmas before Christmas steps into YOU!

And just like that the weekend is upon us, providing us (huh?) the additional time to contemplate these teachings. Have a good Friday.

What does that got to do with pussy?

The funniest shit show I’ve seen emerge yet from the Epstein memorial festivities is this nutso-batso interview in Mother Jones with Stuart Pivar, an art collector and “controversial scientist” who worked with Jailbait Jeff. I’ve seen others warn that it upset them by triggering their sexual abuse traumas, but I guess I’m detached enough from that particular suite of traumas to appreciate Pivar’s performance as exactly that. It’s a fucking carnival act. If he isn’t gaslighting his interviewer and us, he’s going senile, and if he is gaslighting us, he’s enough of a wizened kook that he must be gaslighting himself as well. I just have a hard time believing that an 89-year-old who has spent his life bullshitting so flagrantly does not have a fundamentally loosened relationship to reality. It’s possible, but it seems likelier that the guy is too deep into his method for the project to be entirely an act.

Pivar treats his interviewer like a dimwitted, ignorant child. He keeps returning to his tendentious, you-really-should-look-it-up lecture about satyriasis, nymphomania for men, the “sickness” that he insists Epstein had. It’s such a tragedy that this man, whom Pivar didn’t recall but considered a great pal, had this condiiton that made him–I don’t see why I shouldn’t ad-lib my own inferences, since Stu did, too–constantly fuck sex-trafficked jailbait with about as little consent as is possible in statutory rape.

What sticks with me most about Pivar’s comments is his surreal description of Epstein’s conversational style. Epstein, Pivar said, would host grand salons, at which he would ask eminent scientists questions like, “What is gravity?” (It is that which keeps a man down to earth, Jeff. You should try it some time.) These great minds would start giving him straight answers, and then, after a couple of minutes, Jailbait Jeff, apparently bored and distracted, would abruptly change the subject: “What does that got to do with pussy?”

That brash Outer-Borough diction: you love to hear it. Wood does dis god a do wid dat? Tenured research scientists with names big enough that you’ve heard of some of them weren’t just hanging out with a vulgar felon; they were hanging out with an intellectually undisciplined vulgarian who talked like a fucking Seinfeld bit character, some 50-grit schmuck Kramer might provoke into a shouting match from across the deli counter. Sure, academics are ape, too, not pure angel; as Flanders and Swann pointed out, the higher the brow, the harder they fall. But this shit is something special. These were tenured Ivy and Oxbridge professors, polished scientists who had been published in the academic and popular presses, who had been interviewed on NPR and PBS, and there they fucking were, socialiizng with that frat boy wannabe douchebag, trying to explain the mysteries of science while their host interrupted to talk about poontang. Ey, Mort, wadduh dissandatt godda do widda uddah? EY!

The caveat here is that this diction, as retold, may be an artefact of the teller’s storytelling style and mental state. Stuart Pivar is a rare bird. There’s an unknowable random chance that any particular comment this ridiculous geezer utters is true and accurate, false and inaccurate, sincere, insincere, sarcastic, or any combination of these. He’s an amazing bullshitter. He isn’t straightforwardly an incredible, incorrigible liar; some of what he says sounds highly credible and accurate because it is corroborated by third parties. It’s more that he’s in the fiction business, and a rather seedy end of it at that.

One of Mr. Pee’s most credible claims is that these bigshot scientists associated with Epstein because he disbursed them grants for the asking, without the endless gatekeeping activities of the grant machine. Grant paperwork is one of the great banes of academia. It’s wholesale inefficency in the name of strict merit-based efficiency, and it doesn’t take a cynical or conspiratorial mindset to question how much good this apparatus does science.

The idea that these preeminent scientists, sick of the grant process that consumed so much of their professional lives, preferred to accept invitations to dinner from this horny doofus and listen graciously to whatever dumbass question he had to ask about gravity, or pussy, is plausible enough. It makes sense that this would be at least a modestly refreshing change from supplicating to another foundation for another grant. The academics I’ve personally known don’t seem to seek out the company of horny-on-main dipshits who talk about pussy out of the blue at dinner parties, but I can see how it might feel less surreal than grantwriting, not more. Besides, a dinner party invitation is so often welcome. As one of my favorite priests told us, in a different periacademic setting, “Our parishioners would love to have you for dinner.”

A cookbook? What does that got to do with pussy?

There’s another, less charitable explanation for why these guys showed up chez Epstein: that they were not and are not all the academic giants they’re made out to be. There’s a lot of speculation that Pivar smeared Stephen Jay Gould on the reasoning that it is impossible to slander the dead. Steven Pinker is mostly a charlatan. He’s been funning Taylor Swift this month, inevitably inspiring replies from the peanut gallery about how Tay-Tay seems awfully old for his tastes. The Freakonomics guys, also both Steven by some spelling or other, unfortunately have a radio show on–where the hell else?–NPR. Their episode over the weekend included a lengthy conversation about how Uber had unlocked two billion dollars’ worth of joy for its customers or some such ridiculous ten-figure bullshit. A Saturday afternoon listening to garbage like that, even overhearing it, inspires nothing but depression in me. Just grab it and chuck it into the dumpster, Kondo; this one does not inspire joy.

This is the style of crap that White People turn to for liturgical guidance in lieu of church. It’s just fucking disgraceful. By now I’ve heard more than enough impossible nerds try to quantify our fucking emotions to a precise dollar value by way of devoting product placement airtime to their networks’ sponsors to know better than to trust some asshole just because he has a faculty appointment. Everything that I try to read regularly online is written by better, more honest thinkers with better writing skills than these fuckheads, and baby it’s #FreeContent, too.

NPR and PBS are technically free themselves, but the shysters who run them have come to find the offertory portion of the services FUN. There’s always a bottom below the bottom. Jailbait Jeff might call it the tail. Ite, missa est. Go out into the world to see what it does got to do with pussy, a variably-priced commodity that Jeffrey Epstein’s nerd coteries and the strivers who listen to them in earnest are definitely not just talking about too much, but getting. Go forth and slay. It’s out there. Fat Cracka ain’t lion.

Katie door the barr; or, singh us a serene song of death, Darshan

The problems with the death penalty don’t just have to do with what the killing does to the executed. Executions do terrible things to executioners, too, and they remain among us to live out their ongoing lives. Robby Kaligis, stoic though he tries to be, sounds quietly discomfited by his personal involvement in prior executions, even though he is said to be a mere administrator of the Indonesian machinery of death today. An anonymous younger, lower-ranking Brimob cop who has helped carry out more recent executions told a reporter that it is much more painful and personal to tie condemned inmates to the poles and–once again, yes, these are used for executions in Indonesia–crosses than to shoot them. The shooting, he said, is of a target, and Brimob officers are marksmen; the condemned being tied down are living, breathing men and women, imminently to be breathless and dead.

Nobody well-adjusted, healthy, and decent reacts happily to killing another person. Indonesia, a reasonably normal country, seems to have reasonably normal men as its executioners, men who find their duty heavy and troubling. Singapore, a deeply weird country, not surprisingly has, or had, as its veteran hangman the rather weird Darshan Singh. The Singapore Prison Service found that he was entirely irreplaceable; one prospective replacement quit the service rather than commit a hanging, and another fled in horror from the gallows.

There are contradictory accounts as to whether Darshan Singh hanged Van Tuong Nguyen. Two of these contradictory accounts come from Darshan Singh. Why not? Singh is, among other things, an adult convert to Islam and professed believer in reincarnation. This makes more sense in Southeast Asian cultural contexts than in Western ones, but we’re still dealing with Darshan, a man who, when his first wife made him choose between death and marriage, chose death. These are, of course, other people’s deaths. God bless you, the jolly Imperial Indian says; I am sending you to a better place than this. This is a dubious assertion; if they are liable to come back here in general, why would they not be liable to come back to Changi Prison specifically?

Singh is reputed to be the last of the hard old guard in a nation gone soft in its advancing modernity. Millennials are killing the killing of other Millennials. The government that hired him was and remains a hard one; Lee Kwan Yew conceived of himself as the tropical Tito, forcing the Chinese, the Indians, the Europeans, and the Bumiputra to coexist peacefully under the threat of the cane and the rope. Lee had the exceptional geopolitical leverage to get away with this coldblooded brutality without provoking international military intervention: where the average strongman dictator has oil, and a few in Africa instead have diamonds, rubber, or rare-earth minerals, Lee had a deepwater port fronting a crucial international maritime shipping strait. It’s a lot harder to get away with that sort of strongman aggression as David Koresh–who, for the record, was just a kook and a bully, not a killer.

William Barr has never heard of Darshan Singh or Robby Kaligis. He, of all officials, should be familiar with them, but it is because he should have that he has not. Barr is showing himself to be a typical rich kid who tortures cats for the psychosexual thrill. Or maybe more a chickenhawk creep who hangs out with such characters and cherishes them as buddies. It isn’t enough to purge government of violent sickos; that still leaves craven shitheads who cater to and enable violent sickos as a matter of policy.

We distinctly do not hear Vernell Crittendon grandstanding about the need to resume putting condemned federal prisoners to death. Crittendon is a strange ranger himself, prone to refer to himself in the third person, e.g., if the death penalty ended today, Vernell Crittendon would not be unhappy about that. It’s about what to expect of cops; remember, I once tried to become one. The burden of organizing executions weighed on him, and he has been open about this, although, again, more than a bit strange. The most revealing thing I’ve ever heard from Robert Alton Harris (an improvement on Kamala) wasn’t in full extremis in the gas chamber, but over his last meal: “Critter, you want some?” Nah, Critter don’t. That was not racist, by the way; *flippantly swinging Spandau Ballet voice* I know this/much is/true, or in any event strongly suspect that it is. I know, we’re talking about a deep Valley Okie calling a black guy “Critter,” but cultural and institutional context is worth something.

To answer the question, though, no, Critter don’t got the appetite for that. Some executioners retire with a measure of spiritual gravity intact, even painfully strengthened. Others, such as the last garrote vil thugs in Francoist Spain, turn into spiteful self-loathing drunks. Arkansas does not sound like a state that recruits its most moral citizens to kill on the state’s behalf, but it’s striking that a guard threw Ricky Ray Rector’s pecan pie into the trash–as Ricky himself said, afterwards–in what sounded to me like a state of palpable horror.

There are foods that are spiritually dangerous to eat. Death row guards and warden know this. They respect the wisdom. They approach it with fearful deference. Bill Clinton manifestly does not. I can’t think of anyone offhand who would more smugly and gleefully eat Ricky Ray’s last dessert.

Slick Willie was morally worse than the prison officials he commissioned to put inmates to death. In this case, the fish rotted from the head, not the tail. It is most likely the same case with Bill Barr and the Bureau of Prisons. A prominent lifelong movement conservative lawyer whose father hired Jeffrey Epstein to teach high school math without a college diploma, as one does, is announcing his intention to order federal prison officials to start executing prisoners again. It bears repeating that such coarseness does not always arise in the streets. Barr comes from money and power. He comes from an intelligence family. Bill Clinton comes from a more modest childhood, but he shrewdly wormed his way into positions of power. George W. Bush, who privately mocked inmates whose deaths he ordered, comes from serious money. The Saudis, true butchers, as Jamal Khashoggi personally confirmed a few minutes too late, are obscenely wealthy and powerful.

If there are moral or practical justifications for capital punishment in a modern society capable of operating secure prisons, these men do not offer them. Killing is nothing but a game to them. Killing is a way to have fun and aggrandize themselves. Clinton killed Rector entirely for his own political advantage. Barr is directing the resumption of federal executions for political reasons. Where his boss, the Donald, is very much up-to-date and Online, the Attorney General is still living in the 1980’s, when the death penalty specifically was a major hobbyhorse of the “conservative” movement, i.e., Republican ghouls. There’s less political advantage than ever for the Trump White House to push for the execution of common murderers–there may not even be a discernible electoral advantage to doing this in an increasingly abolitionist regime across the states, defied mostly by states where Trump has commanding, unthreatened leads in the polls–but Barr is an old-school movement operator, as in bowel, of course, so he probably takes the waving of this particular bloody shirt as a reliable way to shore up the base and turn it out. For all I can guess, this may be yet another Trump Administration headfake to throw the opposition off its balance and buy some more time. The proposal to execute a handful of obscure common murderers, however, seems like Barr’s idea, not Trump’s; the Donald only gets pissed off at celebrity convicts.

Nothing about this has a thing to do with public safety or the rule of law. The Bureau of Prisons has very little difficulty securely confining dangerously violent inmates. Absent clemency (unlikely) or judicial review (exhausted, and hence impossible without extraordinary action), every one of these guys is going home in a pine box when his time comes, be the bell tolled by man or God.

Having people killed for political purposes is heinous. Constitutionally, it’s extremely dubious, regardless of what the federal courts say. That is not due process of law. Nor, alas, is it by any means the only grievous failure of due process in American criminal justice. Vesting the final authority to execute in elected officials and their political appointees is a setup for abuses. This is where Marbury v. Madison saves lives. We can’t kill people just because the mob is baying for their blood. We do, but we mustn’t.

Bill Barr is the House of Saud reimagined as Adolf Eichmann. The Khashoggi murder was a gangland hit. Imagine the Kingdom of Gottian New Amsterdam as a sovereign government. That is exactly what Saudi Arabia is. In this case, it’s likely that the Attorney General is promising to have a batch of convicts put to death to distract from the looming prosecution and/or jailhouse assassination of his father’s ex-employee, Jailbait Jeff. It’s all Wag the Dog with these ghouls. They are bad people. They are deeply evil. If they weren’t rich, or at the very least exceptionally self-disciplined, they’d have been in and out of juvie for animal cruelty, and likelier than not they’d be frequent fliers in the adult system, too. If our loud sniffly boi Brett Michael Kavanaugh had not come from money and power, he’d have been a felon by 25. That motherfucker is almost Robert Durst-level unhinged, and we’re expected to believe that he rose to the top through sheer merit? Please. Din nundah happen.

Capital punishment in a society with modern prisons is about nothing better than helping disordered assholes back home feel gratified. It has no place in a modern civilized society. It ruins those who apply it, excepting those who showed up on the staff side of death row already depraved. Just thinking about it as a possible good makes me feel heinously violent in my soul. The latent animalistic violence that it activates in ordinarily peaceable people is reason enough to abolish it if there are any other options, and as we’ve repeatedly discussed, we have such options in turnkey condition. We have too many of them, in fact. The last thing this cursed country lacks is a prison system. Mr. Explodeypants may still need his bunk in Admax, but moving Bob, Jahar, and Zacarias out should free up a few extra cells in the Weatherless Underground.

Say, is anyone there NOT affiliated with the FBI or the CIA? Ah, yes, Rudkin; that one was a two-time BOP internal transfer. Thank you again for listening to my Ted Talk.

Barr is proposing to kill at least five men at the turn of 2020 for our entertainment. That’s what it is. His father hired an incorrigible pervert to teach high school mathematics, so it checks out. *Extremely Beavis Voice* Whoa, did you just say “Headmaster Dick Johnson?” Hehheh hehheh. That’s the most wholesome thing in this essay yet. *Commanding Vernell Crittendon voice, as quietly appalled as ever* Vernell Crittendon is good without that, too.

There is a judicial remedy available to stop this bloodshed. The Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional nationwide in 1972. Unfortunately, it reversed its own ruling only four years later. It didn’t give its own ruling time to show that the United States could remain viable as a society without capital punishment. John Regan at Lawyers on Strike has criticized Furman v. Georgia as bad caselaw, a overreach amounting to legislation from the bench. I have no trouble agreeing that the framers of the Constitution supported capital punishment when Thomas Jefferson brutalized his slaves to an extent that horrified even other slaveholders. What I don’t see is why we shouldn’t be guided by the best angels of the dead guys’ nature, not their worst. T. Jeff knew he didn’t have a prayer of walking his own talk and that others still to come would have to follow the guidestones of his preaching, not his practices. Or, to paraphrase William Tecumseh Sherman: Abraham. Whaddup, dawg.

It burns.

The Kavanaugh court won’t return the federal criminal justice system to any such mercy, one assumes. Catholic branch of government my fat white massgoing ass. Eh, I guess it depends on what we’re calling Catholicism, Fr. Torquemada. We can’t even threaten to call Brett Michael a cokehead rapist if he doesn’t show defendants some mercy. Rarely has a grown man sniffled so much about so little, but who among us does not enjoy a cold one, and a calendar? The blackmail is already in place, but if it’s for anything, it’s to force him to be a channel of judgment, not mercy.

This still leaves impeachment at our disposal. Congress has the constitutional authority to shitcan Bill Barr’s sleazy misdirecting ass for orchestrating Wag the Dog killings, too. Nancy is a death penalty supporter, though, so don’t count on it. I haven’t confirmed it but I know it when I see it, Potter. From Monticello to Zinfandel Lane, threats of violence do much to inspire deference and industry in the help.

In America, you get food to eat, even pecan pie, if you’d care for a slice.


Ain’t no one lion here: that Tiger Mama, she’s a snake

Amy Chua was bad news from the get-go. The coldly ambitious opportunism of her celebrity career has been disgusting all along. She was already a tenured Yale law professor, but far be it from a model minority like her to rest on her laurels by just holding down her day job or some shit. Hell no. This woman was going places. She just had to traffic an incredibly inflammatory line of yuppie bait preying on the worst racial and class insecurities of the American upper middle class. A self-published nobody turned Fifteen-Minute Caucasian Sensation is obviously beyond the pale for uploading a rude video about Ching-Chong Chinee in the college library, a bigot culpable for the most reprehensible communal tension, but a tenured Ivy League law professor isn’t out of line at all to brag about what a domineering asshole she is to her own children because she’s Chinese, so it’s a cultural thing demanding respect from the white majority, or furthermore to threaten to socioeconomically annihilate by child proxy any soft, lazy crackers whose parents don’t spend their pre-K-19 school careers driving them like pack mules.

Is this what we’re calling Transpacific cultural exchange now? In that case, I’m Frank Fat. Well, for God’s sake at least I’m not bullshitting you about the latter part. Say, will I see anyone BUT you tonight?

Was Chua ever a Chinese-supremacist bigot, or did she just play one on NPR? She’s a birthright US citizen married to a fellow birthright American citizen and Jew, which, unless we feel like really rolling around in the weeds, is what we call white. Everybody knows the Book Jews went soft in, like, 1975 or some shit and started letting their kids major in Bong Studies on the six-year program at Hampshire College. I’m descended from some of that myself, and I publish this shit. Then again, teaching law at Yale seems like something that’s more about money than books, not that we ever get a break from that crew of Type A social climbers, of whatever ethnic happenstance, bragging about their “scholarship.” Pot-o-Shit Friend, upon information and belief also a Jew, is apparently less of a sex pest and drunkard than Jed Rubenfeld, but we already knew that about his drinking non-habits: I’ve accused him of some shit, but I’ve never accused him of being a lawyer.

That said, whether it should have been or not, Chua’s family background is uncannily revealing. Her parents weren’t just Chinese; they were Overseas Chinese, initially on diaspora in the Philippines. What’s wrong with this? To listen to some of the indigenous locals, everything. To anachronistically Cliffs Notes our Sowell bibliography, the Overseas Chinese got the natives in Southeast Asia steamed like a tower of shumai baskets by being immigrant dream hoarders, and then the Chinese in general, plus the Koreans and whatever, did the same damn thing to the Americans once they’d had it with whoever had fucked their shit up back hella east. That cabin crew on what I swear used to have a hub in Memphis and be called Northwest Orient got into more trouble for singing “Kung Fu Fighting” in the galley on a flight back from East Asia than Chua has ever gotten into with the same wokescolds for threatening the entire cracker box with a Chinese steamrolling if they don’t abuse their kids into a state of competitive excellence.

Bitch please. Do we really imagine that stark, enduring, gaping ethnic disparities in socioeconomic status become tenable when members of the wealthier minority brag about their own superior adaptiveness? Normally, my thoughts about the Overseas Chinese would be, like, oh yeah, Ahok, that guy fucking rules. I’d hate to be the putz who shows up and says, sure, your constituents use toilets, but I know Oregonians. Amy Chua is something else. She’s such a provocatively nasty and craven piece of work that I can’t see why she shouldn’t take her sleazy ass to a shitty part of Jakarta and get in line for a bumiputra beatdown. Indonesia has some terrible authority figures, but let’s face it: Robby Kaligis never shot my white ass. He’s as respectfully nonviolent towards me as the VC were towards Mohammed Ali. It’s not like I’ve got any parochial objections to a command staff fuccboi like Djoko “oh, was that a camera I was smiling at” Hariutomo, or a Casual Friday batik dinner party son of a bitch like Natalius Pigai. Look at the camera for this photograph, and tell me, if today was your last day in this facility, would you care to discuss your flight plans over an intimate private dinner?

The derangement to imagine for one second that any of that shit is about respect for prisoners in transit and their human rights is out of this world, but whatever else is wrong with such cases, they’re aren’t American thought leaders. Chua is fucking awful. For years there was no end to her obnoxious model minority shtick about how her kids and those of her coethnics were going to smoke the shit out of our lazy little white brats if we didn’t whip them into shape for the race of life. As disgusted as I am to see anyone platformed to preach about this divisive garbage in my country for any reason, I’m sure I’d be more outraged, not less, if I had Chinese blood; I’m Jewish enough for Hitler, after all, and I know how uneasy I get when I see Jews behaving scandalously in a classically Jewish fashion.

As I hinted at above, though, it turns out that Chua is really just a socially climbing courtier. Her model minority act was just a way to scare the Bo-Bos for profit and get her name into circulation as an up-and-coming public intellectual, not just another nobody with a graduate division appointment in the Ivy League like her husband. The ethnically fraught family origin myths of her childhood were the natural wellspring of her book deal bullshit. She was just writing what she knew, and what she knew happened to dovetail perfectly with mass hysteria over the socioeconomic annihilation of the native stock at the hands of her ruthlessly competitive coethnics. It was like The Secret, but retold as an autobiographical screed about the traditional and typical Chinese glorious historical and cultural justifications for terrorizing one’s own children, complete with suggestions for equally menacing threats to utter around the wasp nest about the socioeconomic devastation of the rising generation of the lazy native stock at the hands of this exotic academic superrace.

Yes, it is as racist as it sounds, but that was never the point. The point was to sell the fucking tiger mom book. An equally offensive treasury of baroque complaints about the Jews that went out of style in 1960 might be fun, but it wouldn’t sell. No one would give a shit about that caliber of Fiddler on the Roof-ass throwback Borscht Belt striver crap. Everyone moved out to Greenwich years ago, Hyman. We’re all worried that our lazy kids are gonna have to settle for New Paltz if they don’t stop playing video games, or, like, Brandeis.

Besides, Chua runs in white, and very White, circles. As we’ve discussed, she’s married to a white guy. There are still occasionally characters like Joel Kotkin who carry that chip on their shoulder all the way out to the OC and spend their late middle age bitching about how transit-oriented development is offensive because Brooklyn was always a shithole–God, the guy acts like he could be an uncle–but there really aren’t that many still in circulation who are worried about passing. Does Billy Joel sound like he cares? Yes, he’s Italian, too; ain’t Fat Cracka never called that a bad idea. And what Beltway psychotherapist’s son worries about whether he’ll be able to code-switch his way into Yale?

Running an academic department as an ethnic ghetto doesn’t fly. It may be practicable to hire or admit a model minority plurality, but it doesn’t do to bar the door against the fancy cracker. It’s not like the Chinese or even the Jews predominate in the halls of power. How many Jews do you know named Brett?

Well shit. Our loud sniffly boi Brett Michael is a Yalie himself. Do you reckon he might have an association or two with our Tiger Mother? Why, I do declare he does. How bow dah. Cash either of them inside, where the wailing and gnashing of teeth produces a job offer, as does shitting on the floor in the Judiciary Committee hearing room. And yes, it is about the cash. It’s about that sweet long green. Kavanaugh’s already got his, but he has a way of blowing it rather fast, as one does in one’s deep spectator’s love of the National Pastime and absolutely not as a consequence of a gambling problem. He’s had some pretty sweet gigs for a downwardly mobile lace curtain Irishman, though, consistent six figures for jobs where he enjoyed the latitude to explicitly fantasize about the details of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair in the guise of due diligence about why the horniest bastard in Washington didn’t immediately level with the Inquisition of Dorkemada about his involvement with his intern, then two successive federal judgeships that he has used to convene his own clerk harems.

Or, as Brett Michael likes to put it, mentorship of women in the law. It’s some real Hugo Schwyzer shit. It’s been an open secret in Washington legal circles since at least the Clinton impeachment that he’s a repressed pervert with an unhealthy fixation on the sex lives of strangers politically adverse to his own faction. As we all know, this went just fucking great for Gateside Downlow and J. Denny Dundiddly. We don’t have to worry about Brett’s possible homosexuality anymore than we had to worry about the heterosexually wide stance of the married gentleman from Idaho when he went on the boob tube to fume about the “nasty, naughty boy” they were both pursuing. Brett Michael is on the record about his deep respect for young women, on the court and in his chambers. His recruitment binders are full of women.

And it’s not like he’s just saying whatever goofy shit comes to mind at the moment to try to put the feminists at ease for a spell. He’s got his girls’ basketball team, and the free time to coach it as a side gig to his federal judgeships. He’s got his clerks. As Amy Chua told her law students, they have a certain look, and so should you. They’re all supermodels, she said.

This motherfucker is even worse than Clinton. The Big Dog wasn’t all like, ew, Monica’s fat. He didn’t mewl about his deep respect for women, either. He put on his puppy-dog face and asked America, aw shucks, do you think I stepped out, now; and then, when caught too deeply in flagrante delicto to pretend that he hadn’t done a thing, he half-assed a public act of contrition. But everyone knew why he was there, and he did the least he could to hide it: he was in town to bang some good bitches. The boy was after that poon-flavored Tang.

In Schwyzer’s case, the intersectional Pasadena Community College and Onlline communnities had to listen to this obnoxious dork preach about how much he respected women, then disclose out of the blue in one of his feeble streams of consciousness that he’d nearly killed an ex-girlfriend, was considering self-harm, was for real going to retire into a private life of penance and contemplation, or on second thought mount (giggity) a comeback once the news cycle turned over and use his male ally street cred to chase some more tail. It’s like John Lennon and the wifebeating. Can these assholes ever muster the courage to shut their fucking mouths and stop annoying us with their phony autohagiographical efforts?

Kavanaugh is just as phony and perverted. He’s also a coked-up maniac. Why not entrust our daughters to him as their mentor in the law, or as their basketball coach? It’s Title IX Sports, bitches. Say what you will about Kenneth Fitzhugh for looking like Charles Cullen and murdering his wife, but trust me that he never walked around the AYSO fields moaning about how he respected women too much ever to throw one down the stairs to her death. When I heard that he’d murdered his wife, I thought, oh yeah, I remember him, and come to think of it, he was the kind of creep who’d murder his wife. Weird motherfucker, but he didn’t even poison the orange sections like some Melissa Ann Shepard wannabe, and he sure as hell was too quiet to wander around blabbing about the deep story of his abiding respect for any of the female or otherwise honored acquaintances he’d never harm.

Title IX Sports is a real store, by the way. It’s located–where the fuck else?–in Palo Alto. I can’t wait to have some equally bicoastal elite assholes accuse me of being against girls’ athletics just because I’m against Coach Brett Kavanaugh. That’s like insisting that I’m opposed to gymnastics just because I make fun of Larry Nassar. In fact, I’m opposed to gymnastics because it somehow manages to combine digital rape at the hands of Lawrence of the Labia with the verbal abuse of the Karolyis AND repetitive stress injuries of the sorts that are inflicted on thoroughbred racehorses. No homo, but having that weird dork’s fingers up my ass for some damn reason while he talks about theodicy sounds like the least troublesome part of the gymnastic experience.

God. We might hope that these girls would be encouraged to play pickup ball or something. I used to do that in college, and nobody got weird with me on game nights. Then again, that’s about what we’d expect for a slow-moving widebody who took advantage of the no-cut athletic policy to prequalify for the high school cross-country team with a personal best first-mile split of some shit like 7:50. It’s no way to get a prominent judge’s attention.

Guess you gotta tart yourself up a bit for the Justice, sweetheart. As I like to recapitulate from time to time, my youth soccer coach murdered his wife, and he was a vaguely unsettling weirdo around the pitch for years before that, but he never gave off any serious red-flag vibes. This fuckhead Kavanaugh is nothing but red flags. The PTA parents in his neighborhood pimp their daughters out to him so that he can play the dutiful sports father. There are people in his life who can’t be bothered to give a shit that he spent hours screaming at a roomful of US Senators in a liquored-up, coked-up fury about how he wasn’t a rapist and is STILL coaching their daughters.

One of his most famous colleagues pimped out HER own daughter to him as a clerk. That’s our girl Amy again. She gave that motherfucker a male ally reference in exchange for a clerkship for her daughter. She bemoaned that her daughter would suffer professionally from Kavanaugh’s elevationt to SCOTUS because it would eliminate the appellate clerkship he’d offered her. The daughter then put out a shaggy dog story about how she had in the meantime accepted an Army JAG Corps commission, then gotten out of it to accept a Supreme Court clerkship with, of all justices, one Brett Michael Kavanaugh.

Who the fuck knows what the Goddamn Army had to do with her. It must have been either more than it ever wanted or else blessedly nothing. This chick got a job because of who her mom is. That’s what fucking happened. In the end it had nothing to do with her mother being abusively Chinese and everything to do with strategically kissing a judge’s ass. This chick and her balls-to-the-wall meritocrat mother apply no expectation of merit or even fitness to powerful men they have an interest in enabling. Amy Chua has told her law students to watch their figures and dress up like tramps to impress a federal appellate judge, lately an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. She has threatened bad references for students who have complained about her husband’s sexual harassment.

And about her daughter’s new boss again: what in all hell is wrong with that guy? AshKav is a MILF. He has one of the hottest wives in Washington, and he still has to use his Supreme Court office as an ogling ground? Dafuq?

These are sick, unfathomably dishonest and manipulative people. Every fucking one of them. At least one of the two Chua-Rubenfeld girls has turned into her own scumbag mother, and she isn’t even thirty. It’s too generous to assume that the Kavanaugh girls aren’t headed in the same direction, considering the shitheads they have for parents.

It’s almost enough to call into question the Founders’ constitutional prohibition of bills of attainder. We have to chase down Tiffany fucking Trump to find an adult who comes from such a background and isn’t a hereditary dipshit crook. We have entire fucking lineages corrupted to the core, and we’ve still got this Yalie bitch lecturing us about how our parents are insufficiently abusive for our competitive modern world. To hell with the lot of them.

Or, if you will, more like Vanderpump Sucks

My parents recently visited Hemingway’s house and cats in Key West. It’s an ongoing Habsburg animal husbandry project commemorating an awfully troubled man. My mom said that this pride, numbering several dozen in all, was being propagated by a breeding pair and a half, made up of two toms and one lady, if I caught it correctly. Whatever it takes to keep them stocked with extra toes, I guess.

What really moved me, though, was my mom’s description of how completely indifferent these cats were to the high-volume flow of visiting tourists. Total strangers could come up to them and pet them, and they would not react. They wouldn’t even arch their backs or purr. My mom seemed to find everything about this irresistibly cute. I found it almost heartbreaking. Mind you, I’m the guy who spent the evening of New Year’s Day on a BART train to Richmond blubbering through a veil of tears about the heartbreaking beauty of date palms and live oaks. Take that for what you think it’s worth. And I knew intellectually that Hemingway’s cats were doing better that me. Free of all anxiety and safe from all distress? That ain’t me; it’s them.

The cats are all right. When I think about it rationally, I recognize this. I still can’t shake the uneasy feeling that they are somehow living in a bad liminal space between life and death. I can’t tell if they’re in heaven or hell. Obviously it’s heaven; they’re cats. They’re fed. They’re sheltered. They aren’t even annoyed by cuddlebug strangers, unlike so many other cats. Maybe they’re just too lazy to react. It sure sounds like they’re pretty fucking blissed out.

The title today is, shit, I dunno, something borrowed, something stolen, something *Officially Avuncular Joe Biden Voice* Geez Louise do ya gotta get on my ass about the frickin’ plagiarism again. I culturally appropriated it from Twitter. I did not come up with “Vanderpump Sucks lol” on my own. I wasn’t familiar enough with the show to think like that.

I like it, though. It’s a good line. A number of exceptionally intelligent Twitterati had been posting about Vanderpump Rules for some time. When I read the show’s Wikipedia page, I couldn’t even figure out what the premise was. That’s how vague and vapid the descriptions were. The other materials I skimmed online, from some fan pages, made it sound dreadful. Then I found myself in a motel room on a night when USA was airing Modern Familynot my beloved Garbage by Dick Wolf, and I happened upon Vanderpump Rules while surfing the channels to see what else was bad.

I left it on at a background volume for an hour and change while I did laundry in the sink and checked in on the storylines from time to time. It was amazingly dreadful. The episode I caught was, from what I gathered, a recap of the preceding season. It was the same rotten shit over and over again. They went out partying in Malibu, and they yelled at each other. They flew to Miami Beach, where they went partying and yelled at each other about their sexual insecurities and rivalries. They flew to Aruba to go partying, and they had another tearful shouting match about their latest torrid love triangle. For all I know maybe it was Cabo or Acapulco or Cozumel. I wasn’t following it too closely. The sink full of my underwear was more appealing.

This whole spectacle was narrated in a dissonantly deadpan male voice, more like a documentary than the breathless expressions of shock I’d come to expect on “reality” shows. It was way too calm and matter-of-fact. The effect was about that of the urbanely sonorous narrator from the Ken Burns documentary treasury voicing over an hour straight of Komodo Dragon slasher footage, with the same spare, poignant fiddle music. (“Ashokan Farewell” as a fiddle solo doesn’t exactly do justice to the utter horrors of the Civil War, but that outfit isn’t anachronistic enough for Edwin Starr. So it fucking goes.) It was constant, unrelenting emotional acting-out. Everyone on the show was a miserable screaming cunt. They were all visibly haunted by their own lust, jealousy, and wrath. The women were louder and more tearful than the men, but the men weren’t any great shakes themselves; most of them looked like they were larping stone-cold assholes in a bid to convince themselves that they weren’t just as troubled as the women they were trying to seduce.

These boors all lived in a state of what looked like alarmingly arrested development. They operated under the flaky auspices of their den MILF, Lisa Vanderpump, a socialite whose accent didn’t so much conform to any liminal point on the linguistic spectrum between her native England and her adoptive California as to her own generically posh standing. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard poseurs from New York and Philadelphia talk like her, and probably ones from Chicago. The guy I talked to on the Coast Starlight who was dressed like Robin Hood and was actually from Metairie or some shit had a bit of that going on himself. Lisa Vanderpump had a strong botox spinster air about her. From what I could tell, instead of children she had this collection of young adult lushes, ostensibly to run her bar, and a weakly matronly interest in keeping them from shitting too violently where they ate on account of their shambolic workplace shagfests. In fact, no one on the show had children, or nieces or nephews for that matter. They were all too busy being loudmouthed drunks.

It was a terrible scene. Most of these people looked like they were on track for suicide by forty. If I saw anyone acting like them in real life I’d be worried. These fools were on camera going headlong into a void of their own making. No one had the sense to intervene and show them a better way. It was the bystander effect all around. We’re all just here for the lulz, you know. These were some of the most visibly troubled people I’d ever seen in any venue, real-life or literary, insatiable thrill- and risk-seekers hurting towards imminent existential crises due to their own untampered desires, and even their mother figure Lisa mostly seemed to figure, oh well, kids will be kids.

Incredibly, one of the premises of Vanderpump Rules is that these lost souls are gainfully and steadily employed. They supposedly tend bar and the like at Vanderpump’s club. Eight hours a week of structured work or study time should suffice to keep most people from turning out that bad. Then again, these “jobs” don’t vanish when the “employees” “holding” them jet off to Puerto Vallarta at will to–what else?–go partying. Like, everyone does that, right?

Of course not, but I gather that the idea of this awful show isn’t to follow the ordinary lives of ordinary people. Nor is it the first clue in American popular culture that we have a deeply unhealthy relationship to work. These miserable cunts don’t come close to the 30:1 work-to-flimflamming ratio that prevails on The Office. I remind my readers again that that series is supposedly about a corporate office, and that it is apparently not intended as a Faulknerian journey into a world unfathomed, but as a commentary on what we (who the fuck is us?) all do for a living, as Americans with payroll jobs.

I get, although just barely, the escapist appeal that Vanderpump Rules can have for the drearily employed. I cannot fucking imagine how it could do anything to the unemployed but to cause them to recoil in visceral horror. That’s been me for all too much of my life, and everything about that lot of sorry cases looks like the most self-destructive ways I’d possibly behave if I fell in with the worst possible drinking buddies. It isn’t even that I’m worried about developing a drinking problem; for years now I’ve figured that I generally drink too little alcohol, not too much. I’ve known drunks who don’t act like that, and I’ve known sober people who slouch towards that Gomorrah.

It occurs to me that video and computer games, so widely vilified for turning a rising generation or two into useless, lazy couch potatoes, have saved countless lives. They’re the source of structure and purpose that many people have today. They’re the replacements for workplaces and voluntary organizations. In many cases, I suppose they inspire better player behavior than Lisa Vanderpump and her managers. Some games are execrable, but the headspace in others is pretty healthy and wholesome. And shit, they’re probably cheaper and less subversive to the overclass than regular socialization in meatspace.

The good news is that there does seem to be a threshold at which people at loose ends stop stirring up scorched-earth drama to fill the void, consequences be damned, and become content with their own boring lives. The bad news is that this threshold is roughly the same as the threshold of mental retardation, if not a bit below. That is, it pays to be retarded. Every form of price has its refuge, we might say. Slow and steady wins the race. On second thought, slow should be good enough.

What? Do you think I’m happy because I’m so bright? Tard please. It’s a mixed blessing. I don’t wanna wax Pauline on an Ephesian’s ass all night long, but it can be an affliction. Christ wasn’t distressed at Gethsemane because he was all slow on the uptake and shit. There are times when my extraordinary memory and perceptiveness feel like a cross I’m too weak to bear. This sounds way the fuck too much like a second mass reading, but like Det. O’Hara’s beloved crunk, it comes from inside, *ostentatiously sworn chest-tapping motion* from right here.

What rules (lol) about Vanderpump’s squad is that although they’re far from the threshold of retardation, they’re also by all appearances none too bright. They’d be too drunk to arise from their stupors if they were. Believe me on this; I’d be Rob Ford on the subject of Jamaicans for hours on end if I had to suffer through that shit as a participant. No, that wouldn’t be a drinking problem; it would be the blessed alternative to a sobriety problem.

It all just goes to show that it’s possible to have extreme emotional dysregulation AND mediocre intelligence. God bless.

The implications of some of this stuff are bleak. The Vanderpumpers are some screwy motherfuckers for not having hobbies. There’s a reason why the Menendez Brothers played chess by mail. There’s also a reason why I stay away from Donovan: I don’t need those two teaching me chess. The Vanderpump Rules drunkards are prisoners of their own tragic psychic and social impulses, but there’s no reason not to learn the same lessons from actual prisoners. There’s a story about Bernie Madoff, kind of funny but ultimately pretty sad, and his excessive free time in Butner. Madoff’s a member, along with Jonathan Pollard and a handful of nobodies, of the Jewish gentlemen’s kaffeeklatsch. Coffee Hour is something that passes for a weekend high holiday in the federal prison system, and these fellows have extra coffee hours to go while away their extra time, which they’ve got in such abundance that the Bereans ought to go back to Kentucky and leave it wrongly undivided. Anyway, some of the other gents in the group have a real thing for speculating about the homosexuality of anyone who crosses their mind. One day, Madoff supposedly got fed up with this Doppler Gaydar live feed, and interrupted it: “It’s always queer this, queer that. Don’t you have anything better to talk about?”

As I said, it’s kind of sad. This wasn’t the rhetorical question it should have been. There was, alas, an answer: No. Granted, prisons are terrible places, earthly hells that ruin inmates in mind, body, and soul. Bernie asked a troubling question, though, certainly more troubling than his offer to help the prison out with its bookkeeping (say what, now): What happens when we’ve told all the stories?

The nice thing about forgetfulness is that we forget what we don’t remember and are ready to learn it anew. That’s pretty fucking sad itself, but it’s better than Butner. Say, maybe it isn’t the best idea to make criminals sit around all day in a half-supervised cage warren with a bunch of other criminals and minimal outside stimulation.

Dr. Kaczynski would like to thank you all for coming to his Ted Talk. Yeah, yeah, I guess we’re better off with Mr. Explodeypants and that Rudkin freak in long-term storage in the Weatherless Underground, but still. And why the fuck we’ve gotta keep Bob down there just on account of the Russian connection is beyond me. Were they just trying to make sure that the Tsarnaev kid wasn’t the only one showing up there from the FBI?

As John Mellencamp puts it, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone. I don’t think most listeners have any idea how fucking deep and disturbing this is. I didn’t give it any serious thought until a few months ago. It’s a hell of a letdown, if you think about it. This, I have to suspect, is what the raging young things on Vanderpump Rules are trying to forestall, the calm after the storm. As I said, it’s why we take up hobbies. They’re better than being bored. So is a job guarantee, but we’re as mature enough as a nation for that as we are for a studio-shitcanned Mellencamp song about an interracial couple. We’re here for the teen power ballads, not the deep shit. Crystal Harris wasn’t kidding: we’re all just here for the fun stuff.

How the fuck do I keep remembering that name and who the hell that is? The only mysteries of the Rosary that I can reliably place on their customary days of the week are the sorrowful, but, what, eight or nine years later I can still recall verbatim language used by Hugh Hefner’s ultimate girlfriend and the powerfully cursed energy of their interview with Larry King.

A man’s wife and their son’s baseball coach: it’s a beautiful thing. Hef and Harris were bowling together, not alone. Then she turned into too much of a fucking ditz even for him. I wasn’t too surprised. It lasted while it lasted, and it lasted through a geezer-to-geezer conversation during which the eye-rollingly bored trophy fiancée didn’t appear entirely familiar with the concept of Barack Obama.

Here’s the pathetic part: that was still a marked improvement over Vanderpump Rules. As they say about sex in Maine, it’s all relatives. That’s better than Vanderpump Rules, too, and I can’t say that it necessarily produces the worst cats.

Sky burial

The shit that’s been going down on Everest–or perhaps up on Everest–is pathetically tragic. There are those who mine it for schadenfreude. I can’t. It’s that horrific. Maybe it’s just my foolish assumption that even ghouls have some glimmer of conscience, but I can’t imagine not being crippled with guilt to learn that I had bodily climbed over the sick, the dying, and the dead, for any reason. Soldiers come home from war devastated by the knowledge that they did so to save their own lives in the hot fog of combat. Everest’s summiteers use human corpses as footholds for no better reason than to be able to brag to their peers that they made it to the top. There’s no good reason not to lie about that. Okay, there is one: the Need to Post. We’ve got a bumper crop of dipshits scrambling up there like wild hogs for the fucking Gram. There shouldn’t be any reason not to fake the video in that case, since Photoshop works to put precious Madison’s face on a rower’s body for college admissions purposes.

This applies, however, only if we fail to account for extreme vanity. Why bum around at inhabitable elevations in Nepal and then bullshit your buddies about it when you can personally climb all the way to cruising altitude? It’s for sale, after all. The summiting process is one of the most miserable things going; what used to be merely a grueling trek through a land where man is not meant to be is now exactly that in the form of a death march assembly line. It resembles meatpacking for a reason.

Most of the people who attempt this are obviously out of their fucking minds. I hike fairly often at elevations up to 5,000 feet above sea level, and from time to time up to 10,000. I rarely start feeling faint from the altitude until at least 11,000, and I’ve twice walked around on the summit of Pike’s Peak comfortably enough, although I had to pay extra attention to my breathing. The first time, with my scout troop, I was the jackass showoff who JOGGED short sprints while our scoutmaster sat on a stoop, looking like he was about to vomit. I still think summiting Mount Everest is a terrible idea. It’s obviously unsafe, and it looks like a hellhole. Nah, a hellspit. Climbers staging for the final ascent are said to often be too altitude-sick to put on their crampons. They literally cannot put on their fucking shoes. That’s how compromised they are by the thin air. It’s an emergency if a commercial airliner loses pressurization at half that altitude, but they didn’t pay a hundred grand a pop to give up just because they’ve lost the executive function to dress themselves.

The pay-to-play permitting regime is one of the worst aspects of the summiting frenzy on Everest. The infamous photo showing nothing but climbers for a hundred-odd yards up to the top is actually not the result of a strictly laissez-faire framework. Every one of those fuckwads supposedly had a permit from the Nepalese government. The problem is that there are no fitness standards for getting a permit. Any ambulatory wheezing wonder with the cash to pay a Sherpa wannabe dipshit for guide services can get one. Some guy on the Takeaway said that the entry bid to get a newjack hustler from the valley floor who’s got no business dicking around at Base Camp is $50,000. $100,000 is what it takes to get someone who knows what the fuck he’s doing. Nepal is said to be exceptionally corrupt: no surprise for a poor country that serves as a company town for rich Western tourists. What else did we expect? It’s the resource curse, basically the same deal as oil, diamonds, or rare earths.

It strikes me that the rich tourists involved in this bullshit are paying for something much more insidious than guide services, reputable or questionable. They’re paying to be praised as pioneers, bad-ass explorers, conquerors. These are often ones who pay for such praise in every other area of their life. All they have to do is fire everyone who isn’t a groveling suckup. The help know the drill and keep themselves strategically tactful. This means not calling a man an arrogant fool just because that’s what he obviously is. Bringing this practice into the target cruise altitude range for a fucking 757 isn’t the best idea, but we aren’t here to engage only in sensible, non-life-threatening ideas, now, are we? But of course, we most certainly are not. I once flew from Chicago to Phoenix on a 757 at a cruising altitude of 19,000 feet, and the pilots pressurized the aircraft, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t shoot for a cool ten above that with maybe some scuba gear, since you’re already such a business champion and shit, and winners don’t quit.

I haven’t looked into this, but I’d guess that there’s a fair amount of overlap between Everest’s pay-to-play summiteer dipshits and big game hunting tourists in but definitively not of Africa. Waka waka hey hey, bitch, it be time. I once leafed through a big game hunting magazine, and Lordy is there some unspoken, unspeakable colonial psychosexual shit going on in that cracker basket vis-à-vis the local color they hire as guides. The leopard may not gaze back–the whole point to the guide hoisting it up is that it’s dead–but the abyss fucking does.

This is the shit people do with wealth. I could swear, once these fuckheads stop having to trade off cheaper airfare for older scotch they turn into degenerate lion sport shooters and fellow-traveling trash. They never shoot the lion because it’s a maneater; that’s an unsporting loser move for the local darkies to make. They shoot Cecil because he’s a big bad cat and their dicks are small. It’s their penis mightier. Or they shoot Jericho the Lion, whose brother, Cecil, was also a lion. #TheMoreYouKnow, pussy.

This is what they do with disposable income. I’d love to see what they’d do without it, such as spend less time scrambling over their competitors’ fresh remains along a trail of trash and turds. Linear Pot-o-Shit Friend is now the least awful thing about Everest. If that’s how they spend their money, shitting in a high-altitude snowbank next to an illegal dump and climbing over their fellows’ lifeless bodies, soon to be abandoned to the mountain, for a shot at the pitiful bit of glory they bought themselves, they could do to have less of that long green.

Raise the top marginal rates.

Getting to know the neighbors

The Tobacco Road bullshit at the farm got to me again on Sunday evening, and so in the interest of getting a better idea of what in all hell is being done with my fifteen grand, I started poking around on the relevant Facebook pages. Most of them offer pretty scant and haphazard public information about what’s doing, which is probably to be expected given the turnover from year to year, not to mention the quality of some of the characters to infest that joint: specifically, low on both counts.

On something of a whim I decided to see if I couldn’t find any information on Pot-o-Shit Friend, like, for starters, who the fuck he is. Lo and behold, within maybe two full minutes I found his personal Facebook page, followed over the next half hour by several other pages that he maintains on various platforms and some third-party background information.

At last I have a legal name to go with that cursedly autistic face. It figures that he’s got a speeding ticket and an expired registration ticket from back east; I can’t recall him ever saying a word to me, and I can’t testify that he ever uttered a word to anyone in my presence, but I distinctly remember him tearing into the farm parking lot, 15 miles an hour at a bare minimum around a blind corner onto a rutted dirt driveway, in an ancient Mercedes diesel beater. I saw him do that a few times. He usually had a deranged smile on his face. Internet-sensei indicates that there are at least eight court records pertaining to the gentleman. Some of them could be juicy, but driving for shit in crappy unregistered cars should get the job done.

“Juicy” is absolutely not a word that should be used about that filthy motherfucker. That’s why I used it. Why, it evokes liquids, even liquids squeezed into a container. That’s as disgusting as it is germane. The fucked up thing about how I located Pot-o-Shit Friend online is that it was through the Ragin’ Canajun, who is his Facebook friend. That’s one hell of a “friend.” The Ragin’ Canajun is the one who personally disposed of Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift. When I asked him about some of the details that I hadn’t caught the first time he told the story, he confirmed that Pot-o-Shit Friend was who I thought he was and that the trashcan had in fact been brimful: “Like, yeah, I just got splashed with another dude’s shit.”

If anything is grounds to cut off all contact with another person, that should be it. If a dude’s already weird as hell and functionally mute, and his legacy is a stolen trash can so full that his dumps can’t be taken to the dump without sloshing onto the carrier, that should be grounds for a cold-turkey cutoff of all contact. The guy’s a total scoundrel, or else he’s doing a bang-up job of playing one. I’m not Facebook friends with Lieutenant Tittytorque, and all Lt. T ever did to me was yell at me to take shots of Jim Beam, pinch and twist my nipples, and do a lot of other vaguely weird shit. I sure as hell wouldn’t be Facebook friends with him if he’d given me a Cleveland Steamer. Full steam abreast ain’t how I roll, big guy.

Heaven is the friends we make along the way, or some shit like that. As Poo-Poo Splatter–that’s our South County neighborhood tree shitter–likes to say, we’re making memories! Pot-o-Shit Friend isn’t necessarily any better than that. I don’t know the worst cases from the Aliso Viejo greenbelt, but I have no doubt (heh) that Pot-o-Shit Friend is a good deal worse than a normal case of Asperger’s. There’s a bit funny around the edges and none too chatty most of the time, and then there’s that dirty son of a bitch. I found some video clips of him online, in which his eyes aren’t totally wack and he’s mildly verbal. That’s better than I personally witnessed of him in the flesh. In one of these, he spazzes hello when prompted by an introduction from his business partner, then returns abruptly to staring vacantly at the dirt with his mouth lazily agape.

These two are the same ones who offered phone dates in exchange for $20 Indiegogo donations. That’s no Cousin Gigolo giggity gig; ain’t no one living in anything like a walkup apartment on that scene. No, that right there is an Over-the-Rhine social rate. (Source: television.) This is no social crisis; it’s just another thicky tricky day for me and you, a dog named Blue, and some code violations in the can.

Seriously, though, can you imagine paying for a phone date with that motherfucker, or with anyone willing to go into business with him? Every time I laid eyes on that dude he was too fucking autistic to speak, and there he was online, trying to capitalize a farm by selling PHONE DATES.

The sick parallel between Pot-o-Shit Friend and Poo-Poo Splatter is that in both cases the community degenerated into an enabling force. There’s always some hothouse flower who’s gonna get all offended and upset and hostile if anyone complains about human waste being left where it endangers public health. Yes, it’s unsanitary and dangerous, but will someone please think of the poor assholes who don’t want to hear about their responsibility to put a stop to it? In the Orange Bubble, wine moms don’t tell wine moms to tell their tween daughters to stop shitting out of trees in the greenbelt in front of their own tween daughters. Down on the farm that I’m still funding to the tune of $15,000, I guess I wasn’t supposed to call code enforcement about Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift because doing that would upset Joe Dirtbag. So, according to the Ragin’ Canajun, would talking loosely about how he stood back and snickered while Captain Flimflam ran a much more competent and reputable tenant farmer off the land he was leasing, with the two of them nearly coming to blows. That would make things awkward, and when the going gets awkward, Tesh posts Hawkward.

Yes, I do have a Pinterest account. Look for the avatar of the dog that looks like Samuel L. Jackson. How else am I supposed to learn about this bullshit and scrape Wilford Brimley content?

It should come as no surprise that this constant feather-smoothing moral cowardice enables and aggrandizes some rather untoward characters and encourages a number of really troublesome behaviors. It’s a wide-open relativistic void, a frontier that can only be closed by brute force. The worst-case scenario is clashing sheriffs. We can see all too clearly what happens when no one steps into that fray. I mean, we’re just trying to understand other people here and where they’re coming from to make them who they are. Some people shit in the toilet and wash their hands in the sink. Other people shit in the sink and wash their hands in the toilet. Other people don’t have running water and go potty in a trash can.

I always love it when Reagan closes the state hospitals.

We’d hate to get lip for complaining that the permissive parenting and landlording styles have gone too far. On the other hand, even filthier than the first, a tenant can’t use the toilet as designed and intended if there isn’t one, and gee, that might be the landlord’s fault for renting out units that are grossly uninhabitable. We’d still hate to upset and humiliate these plucky entrepreneurs by telling them off, though. They think of themselves as pillars of the local middle class. That’s why, when they had Lady Pisspan staying on their property and shitting onto a bed of newspaper in her travel trailer, the Family Shrew wrote her a letter telling her that she needed to stop creeping the neighbors out and start using the outhouse.

We’re dealing with some real tamping-iron-to-the-head thinking here, intellects beyond our capacity to gage. It’s a pretty crude scene. Basically, the whiniest, most sniveling little bitch gets the most deference from the community, especially when there’s still some unsold or unforeclosed property to defend. This is how telling an indigent squatter to use the outhouse becomes a middle-class virtue. It’s how having people living in squalor on one’s property and using a pit outhouse becomes consistent with operating a fucking restaurant, because the health department was obviously just a bunch of hardasses and its inspectors never correctly perceived anything about the premises to be inchoately amiss.

Haidt-fuck my brains out, Ghomeshi. Broad middle-class values worth respecting do not include having a rogues’ gallery of losers, derelicts, and shysters show up on the property under a single given name, or a nickname, or a Mad Libs grab bag of mix-and-match names any of which may or may not be valid for service of legal process. These situations accounted for Pot-o-Shit Friend, Captain Flimflam, Captain Flimflam’s severely depressed wife figure and stepdaughter, and Lady Pisspan. (By all hospitals and asylums they did not account for Psychotarp, who asserts his claims of internal displacement under his legal name.)

This bullshit gets really fucking old after a while. I recall seeing mail addressed to Captain Flimflam under a surname that appeared to be a stupid geographic pun; I still don’t know who exactly the fuck he is, although I did find a Facebook page with pictures of him and a story about how he is “retiring” to Tucson. He can’t be much more than fifty and he’s been a no-account drifter since before I first met him. In Pot-o-Shit Friend’s case, I had to guess the spelling of the name I’d been given for him. My first guess was wrong, and I didn’t get it right until Facebook autofilled it for me from a partial entry. It wasn’t anything remotely like any part of his legal name anyway. It had no bearing to anything else I could discern. As far as I can tell, it’s a horseshit alias that he picked out for himself for reasons that I can only guess in vain.

The problem with this pretension, of course, is that it was under this bogus name that Pot-o-Shit Friend gave us his housewarming gift. I don’t fucking move onto properties under an alias, steal trash cans from the yard, shit into them until they’re full to the brim, then skip town and leave someone else to confront the stomach-turning mess I made. This has no parallel to anything I have ever in my life done. I dare say that it’s perfectly reasonable of me to be disgusted and resentful that this kind of thing keeps happening on property where I have $15,000 tied up in a zero-dividend capital investment. Pot-o-Shit Friend boosted it into a higher quantum of filth, but he didn’t set the precedent.

This isn’t a farm that I’m funding; it’s a base in the fucking 4-f Army. When we get Army-Army veterans, the caliber we can expect is Mixups in my Mind. I’ll knock a cracker over with a feather to note that our boy didn’t last too long in the service, but he was enough of a soldier for JD to advise him to bring a copy of his DD-214 to the veterans’ services joint downtown and see if he couldn’t line up some of the good stuff. I haven’t heard the outcome, but I’m familiar with what the guy construes as “chores” and “gardening,” so I don’t suppose that went too fucking well.

Bear in mind that Mixups is substantially saner than Psychotarp: he knows that some of his demons are in his mind, even if he’s up by the road verbally rebuking their Master at rush hour, and that it isn’t all an anti-Semitic arson conspiracy against internally displaced persons. Both of these crazy motherfuckers are, in turn, far more socially functional than Pot-o-Shit Friend. They’re also night-and-day more morally grounded than Captain Flimflam.

It is plainly impossible for a community drawn from these people to maintain civilization. Someone else, somewhere or other, has to step into the fray to clean up the messes they make and fix what they break, because otherwise they’ll go careening all the way down the beaver slide into an end state gruesome and degraded enough to make the Dark Ages look advanced. In Pot-o-Shit Friend’s case, this bailout came in the form of the Ragin’ Canajun personally cleaning out his shit shack and disposing of his housewarming gift. That high-risk cleanup would never have been necessary, or even possible, had Pot-o-Shit Friend been able and willing to live in a manner consistent with the continuation of human life and health. Hopes and prayers to that effect are futile; that ain’t his scene.

As I’ve disgust before, the housewarming gift was one of at least three separate episodes on the same property in which tenants or squatters endangered public health by improperly disposing, or not disposing, of human waste. Some of this shit is literally third-world. Bringing plastics into an environment of semirural, vaguely fringe-urban squalor otherwise punctuated with ramshackle buildings that were poorly constructed from the start and haven’t been maintained properly in decades, with the neighborhood also haphazardly dotted with festering piles of any number of residents’ literal shit: this is what to expect of an underserved slum in Nigeria. The ass end of Lagos may be filthier, but it’s also consistently inhabited by communities including normal, competent people, never just a medley of the county’s most derelict fly-by-night scumbags and hopeless rejects. This is not a wise time to assume that the blessed rains are the ones falling on the lower levels of human development.

This wretched refuse keeps washing up on the farm because Joe Dirtbag keeps allowing the property to serve as a strange attractor for disordered losers who have no business living on a working farm. It’s prejudiced to say that anyone who’s cool with living in a school bus parked between a dirt driveway and a weedpatch is a dipshit who will only get in the way of legitimate business operations. Care to dispute the point, though? This is the second bus and the second he-loser to be parked in that same fucking weedy junkyard in the past two and a half years; Busboy, the one JD tried to pit against that cop and then lure me in to make it a four-way, has been gone for about a year. It’s a fair assumption that these fucking dipshits and weirdos think it’s their right to park a disused school bus with a potbelly stove welded into the back by the fence because JD never does anything with the decades-obsolete restaurant equipment that he’s storing in an al fresco junkyard in another weedpatch by the winery building. Bruh, what’s your beef with the bus, man? He’s still got all that shit and stuff up there; it’s all good, man.

No, asshat, it is not. I’m tempted to file another code complaint just to get that goddamned bus off the property, although I’m sure I’ll do a full inventory of the property first and, as I did in my first complaint, tell all. There have to be more suitable places for that “tiny home,” too, since we’re back on our bullshit with turns of phrase that should not fucking exist. No one has a civil liberty to live indefinitely in a shed mounted on a cheap flatbed trailer right there. Novel idea: stop trying to tell me that a fucking bespoke garden shed on wheels is a “home” and go live in it somewhere else. Go fish for make-believe dignity in a different fucking pond.

It wouldn’t be my business if Joe Dirtbag hadn’t solicited my parents to dump that fifteen grand into a gaping hole in my name. When I visit the property, I usually leave it in better shape than I found it, the blackberry thickets cut back a bit at least. Pot-o-Shit Friend is apparently a pretty competent farmworker himself, but we know the kind of housekeeper he is, and that isn’t a deal that pencils out in his favor. That’s another galling thing about this mess: many of the losers living in these degraded circumstances are working poor. Pot-o-Shit Friend even went to a fancy alternative college in Vermont. It’s totally unconscionable, but once again, no one is brave or fed up enough to confront JD and say, hey, asshole, we need a fucking toilet.

Pot-o-Shit Friend isn’t just a back-to-the-land agricultural generalist. He’s also a physical therapy assistant or some such shit, tincture dabbler, and, I shit yet not, a potter. Yes, amen, I say to you, we may throw up, but our boy throws pots. A great deal of what he posts from the Piedmont on Feefeeboo (his term, not mine; I’m not THAT bad) has to do with kilns or ceramics he’s selling. One of his recent creations is pretty much a turd on a gold chain. He’s calling it a “necklace,” the same thing my parents called our cat’s Christmastime shit after he ate the tinsel. He has Facebook friends praising him for the artistry of this ridiculous little piece of junk. It looks like he rolled up and fired the remains of a terrible little pot that he knew was going to be a second, and he has friends chiming in on his Facebook page to celebrate this artistic accomplishment.

All the same, we can at least rest assured that this production reached a respectable autoclave temperature. The postmodern aesthetic is an impoverished one, but with the right media it can be kept clean, if that isn’t too much to ask. #TeshTips: It is too much. It won’t even fit in the can. The past is in plastics, kid, the perfect modern medium for Shitty Icarus.