Kasich, you uppity bitch

Pittsburgh has a fancy-ass airport express bus, the 28X, to get the fancy highlanders downtown and back in a hurry. The 28X sticks to the busway and the freeway and the mall perimeter and shit (okay, a bit of West Carson, too), in the interest of expediting the good bougie voters with their jobs and all between the islands of good stuff at an adequate altitude above the hardcore flyover country.

Muh fuckin Port Authority 24 Local, tho. What can I say? It came first this afternoon. Hey, that could be a working sociosexual allegory about the riders, too. The poors are certainly said to be less sexually dysfunctional. Giggity. But no kidding, Rogers, there’s some gritty, gritty shit awt there past Mawnt Warshington and the Inclines, dawn in the old mill tawns, and it seems our Buckeye boy Johnny K. didn’t stick arawnd to fix any of it.

When I got into teh dawntawn myself, I double-checked with Google-Fu, and sure enough, that fucker is from McKees Rocks. It’s inconceivable. I’ve seen much, much worse American neighborhoods; McKees Rocks looks poor and seedy but pretty socially functional, maybe even more than average. The bizarre part is that its most famous native son (I have no fucking idea who, if anyone, it’s contributed to our varieties of sportsball) is the Republican presidential candidate who carried Manhattan and only Manhattan. That’s like Sargent Shriver and William F. Buckley running for the presidency and winning only the bad parts of Cincinnati, pretty much just Scott Parlier, Mack the Pipe, and the $20 carside blow-and-go crowd.

I know, I know, that silver-spoon second-generation developer oaf from Queens with the flagship properties in Midtown Manhattan who won all the backwards constituencies in the general election because that crazy bitch smeared the lot of them as comprehensively immoral and implied that they’re all hot-bunking in the same basket.

John Boehner was brought up in even poorer circumstances in an equivalent inner suburb of Cincinnati. The GOP has a real thing about elevating guys who grew up closer to the railroad tracks than they’d have liked and now deplore and look down on their own hometowns. They must bring some bogus air of authenticity to the party’s ongoing campaign to loot the commonweal until it’s flat out of lootables. I’m all too familiar with the self-loathing Staten Islander thing, and I’ve now met that alumni council dipshit with the Hickenlooper-on-steroids Main Liner act and the chip on his shoulder for being from hick-ass Missouri (I’ll shit bricks if it turns out that he’s from Columbia or fucking St. Charles). I’ve basically learned how to deal with the occasional feeling of embarrassment before the normies on account of an early childhood in Palo Alto, and my very aggravating collegiate background has exposed me to plenty of insufferable assholes who use their own proud privilege to shit on anyone and everyone who doesn’t comply with their gross efforts at social control, so I don’t know what the fuck degree of extra latitude I’m expected to accord some toolbox who’s been salty for a decade or five about the petty slights that came from earning consistent six-figure incomes for years on end after an upbringing in a solidly middle-class part of New York City or Joplin, or alternately as Mr. McFeely’s son.

To my knowledge I’m the only party to this bullshit who regularly sleeps in his car. Then again, Palo Alto has to be a much better and likelier place to feel like shit for sleeping in a car as a fully employed and taxpaying member of society than Donner Pass is for doing so as a once again unemployed guy who’s planning to go for a hike after Weekend Edition Saturday. There’s a real failure of perspective here, and it starts to look willful. These shady mofos love them some class restratification and bigotry, with the proviso, of course, that only a bleeding-heart tax-and-spend commie leftist would ever wage class warfare. They don’t want to be on the hook for government services for the losers they or their recent ancestors left behind back home, losers who aren’t necessarily so utterly impoverished or unskilled or dysfunctional and who would tend to converge back on broad middle-class norms with assistance more modest than what the wealthy exurbs routinely demand of their public officials.

An upper middle class and national elite dominated by fifth-generation lawyers who are much because they are Dutch would expose the economic hard right wing to some glaring credibility problems. The hard right will look bad and lose a critical mass of voters if there were obviously no social mobility, and a generationally entrenched, ethnically denominated upper crust would drive home the obvious. (Don’t tell anyone that our current Second Great Depression is making the same point even more grotesquely and horrifically.)

That’s why the GOP enjoys regularly pipelining fresh ethnic talent up from the ranks of Expanding Whitey. What, do you still think we’re all swooping in here from the WASP nest? Why, here’s a wetback’s kid who worked at the family taco stand into his twenties, and here are some other NPR-ready members of Pueblo’s Hispanic Latino community who don’t look too closely at how they closed the mill down and also the bus system is fucking useless, and here’s a shanty kraut with a baker’s dozen of brothers and sisters, and from another few hundred miles up the river, czech it out, here’s a guy who climbed his way out of Hunky Hollow, the point being that every one of these enterprising ethnics believes in our private-sector job creators, and there’s no way that any of them enjoyed a stable home and neighborhood life growing up because dad was a union postal worker.

The great uncrackable nut in this bowl, of course, is America’s established local color, the ones insufficiently blessed by the rains back home. Or, as the drill instructors ask of the new arrivals at the Atlanta Police Academy, do they listen in the Motherland? The Republican Party keeps thinking up and then abandoning schemes to win over African-Americans, but with rare exceptions, the Community doesn’t bite. That’s what happens when partisan hacks use patently insincere and cheap talking points about self-reliance on the one constituency that has most reliably gotten a rough ride in their rodeo; it’s also the last constituency to turn down stable public-sector union jobs, because it knows from painful experience that the alternatives are straight out of hell.

All God’s other colorful people, not to mention everyone who automatically gets the Whitey Sign these days, are useful fodder the GOP’s classic #TCOT argument by anecdote. This includes African immigrants, who presumably become African-Americans while our ethnic rhetoric definitely slouches toward gibberish. No, I don’t mind accusations that I’m more bork than bite. Congress has never refused me the opportunity to rule. Ooh, we’d better airlift the judge to Lehigh Valley, because he just got BURNED.

I can’t blame John Kasich for wanting to move somewhere more prosperous than McKees Rocks or get away from neighbors who live vicariously through the Steelers instead of trying to actualize their own lives. It’s easy to see how an environment like that could get depressing, stifling, and limiting. This is a free country. There’s nothing inherently objectionable about moving somewhere else domestically, or expatriating, for those who feel driven to leave it because they love it. (Muh HRSDC shiznit, eh. *Headdesk* *St. Jean de Brebeuf voice* Oh, you think YOUR eyes hurt after reading all that? Ha!) The dispiriting fourth-turning truth of the matter is that the broad prosperity of postwar Pittsburgh, won at such cost by the unions, was what allowed so many people in the postwar generations to move out into the suburbs and turn into reactionary starve-the-beast nutjobs.

But what’s the problem with reminding Kasich of his own roots? He’d certainly remind me that I was a bougie Palo Alto boy if he caught me saying nice things about socialism and shit. Free market extremism wasn’t what gave Pittsburgh a middle class. Anyone who acts like that was the case is either a lying sack of shit or flaming nuts. Andrew Carnegie was a hideous thug who belatedly made concessions to the employees he deliberately kept in poverty only after they took on his subaltern Frick and their Pinkerton goon squads. A dear friend from Allison Park gave me a blunt assessment of Carnegie’s charitable motivations: late in his life he realized that he was going to hell and wanted to belatedly atone for his depredations in an effort to secure his own salvation. Getting his name plastered on a whole bunch of shit probably didn’t hurt; there are apparently those who get their jollies from such enterprises–say, the current Oaf of Office.

A sensible person has to wonder about someone who was raised on the Allegheny County waterfront in a household headed by a mailman and came away thinking that government and labor unions were the problem. Kasich’s complaints aren’t, like, geez, the city never filled the potholes on our street and that son of a bitch Hoffa was such a racketeering disgrace to the rank and file that I hope they buried him somewhere deep and far away. Having been raised in the stable prosperity nurtured under robust government and high union membership, he’s here to burn some shit down. It’s almost less disturbing if he’s just a garden-variety crook; imagine how sad it would be for a man raised in such an environment to actually believe that smallminded, ungrateful nonsense in the depths of his heart.

True story: I’ve seen Randian RWNJ Republicans brag about their “Pittsburgh Values.” This raises questions, including where in all hell they came up with such an idea. Pittsburgh and quite a few of the nearby older towns are solidly Democratic, anywhere from about 60-75%. There’s an outback of hardcore Republican strongholds surrounding the urban riverfront core and the other Democratic-leaning suburbs (including Castle Shannon, I recall); this outback extends hundreds of miles into the wooded void, practically to the edge of the Main Line and the outskirts of Scranton. But none of this exurban and rural swath is fucking Pittsburgh. “Hey, I’m in Chicago. Okay, I’m actually in Gary. But didn’t that sound nice?”

This is where we get into the realm of Republicans flat-out making shit up. John Boehner is proof of the great opportunity that is America. Look at him, raised by humble kraut barkeepers in a beyond-full house, and he made Speaker. That proves that anyone, with enough hard work and determination, can become the Speaker of the House.

Uh, no it fucking doesn’t. How many speakers does the House have at a time? Hint: the office is called “The Speaker of the House.” (I know, the whole lot of them can’t be induced to stop speaking.) What the hell does Boehner’s success mean even for his own siblings? That’s one position at the top of a national legislative body of only 435, plus some hanger-on delegates from the colonial territories. Not a whole lot of room for contenders there, Brando. Every individual Congressman represents a district of something like 680,000 (look it up for your fucking selves if the precision is that important to you; that’s why we have the internet until next Thursday). That still isn’t awfully many slots for America’s enterprising.

Pathetically, the same people who act like Boehner is a success story for having been so successful in politics, and Kasich too, I guess, if he’s extreme enough for their taste, also get up on their high horses about how the only appropriate venue for job creation is the private sector. They fucking venerate the “job creators” in so many words. What I have to wonder is, if the private sector is so majestic, why don’t they go look for some damn work in it? None of these assholes waxing obnoxious about job creator bullshit in Congress has worked exclusively in the private sector. I have, though. Their fellow travelers in the Randian think tanks and on the opinion pages aren’t a hell of a lot more free-marketed. What in the bloody hell would Megan McArdle have to offer in a competitive free market? Wingnut welfare has many such cases. What self-respecting person who has ever held down a proper summer job would take these useless, bumptious assholes seriously?

If these toolboxes think government is so awful, why do they keep competing for additional terms of paid government employment every two to six years? I’m not over here demanding the abolition of the private sector, and frankly neither is anyone else who isn’t absolutely ridiculous. The fucking Norks barely managed to destroy private enterprise for a few decades, and once the disappearance of their Soviet subsidies along with the dissolution of the USSR blew the shit into their fan, they mostly stopped trying. That’s what the world’s most belligerent and deranged extant totalitarian regime has achieved against the private sector. The infamous Slow Ghomeshi on the American private sector is fictional. To the very small extent that it exists in some greatly attenuated form, much of it is actually the doing of landlord rent extraction. What we hear about, though, is the chronic saltiness of pissant entrepreneurs who think they shouldn’t have to do basic bookkeeping and compliance work instead of getting however shady they damn well fancy come payday and tax time.

Could government be less burdensome and more helpful to small businesses and sole propietorships? Sure. The flip side is that assholes like Joe Dirtbag could start paying their damn sales taxes and stop making up crappy post hoc stories about why they didn’t pay up and shouldn’t have to do their part because reasons. That creep alone blew a good chunk of my goodwill towards the noisy beleaguered entrepreneur with his series of little tax-dodging stunts. I don’t try to buy shit off the books to dodge sales tax, so I don’t appreciate a deadbeat who also doesn’t pay me or anyone else who helps him run the farm cheating the city because reasons.

Let’s not stay so parochial, though. Here’s the Galaxy Brain take: robust government services like the Port Authority and a paid professional fire department can facilitate more private enterprise, not less, by maintaining a functional, reliable public infrastructure that anyone can use without a second thought. That seems to work for the Pittsburgh urban core. The Pittsburgh firefighters’ pension may still be underfunded, but at least the PFD doesn’t have its head up its ass about bringing new hires on board to cut back on the overtime, unlike, say, BART. Then again, BART vs. the Port Authority may well be a case of getting back what we pay in, for what it’s worth. Trolley time isn’t quite make-believe around here, but it’s pretty fucking unintuitive, and its delivery none too speedy.

I’m sure I could find plenty of #TCOT dipshits out in the North Hills and Butler County and shit who assume that the City of Pittsburgh has a private sector every bit as vigorous as Moscow had in the forties, but that’s because our national politics are insane. Our recent habits of stratification and sorting don’t fucking help. Hell, just look at our known Yinzer boy John moving up to Columbus and digging in. He’s got a case of the accent, but it’s too bad he doesn’t have a case of something other than the projectile ignorance of his own hometown’s history to go with it.

At least he won New York, New York. Not Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx, and God no, not Staten Island, but our boy from McKees Rocks cracked the cultural barrier of Radio Deluxe Country. That earnest socially climbing dork couldn’t even get a plurality in Allegheny County, and now that I’ve taken the bus through his old neighborhood with a dozen or so neighbors (Hello!), I can’t begin to convey what a glorious thing it is that he carried Manhattan and choked everywhere else. John Kasich is special just the way he is, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful fucking day.

 

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Down on the Motherfucking Farm

Strangers often assume that I went to Stanford when they see my ballcap. It’s a fair point, but the cap was a gift. All I feel like saying about the details is that I have some family connections to their old school, not mine, and if these details seem so compelling, you’re free to figure them out for your own damn self. Legacy admission? It ain’t me, lawd, and sweet Jesus it ain’t me with that dang drawl of an acksayant after a chahldhood in El Cerrito and shit.

The colors happen to closely align with those of, you guessed it, *MY OLD SCHOOL*, whose swag I in fact would be ashamed to wear, because *GO DIPLOMATS!* For real, I’m routinely on the verge of buying F&M gear out of pocket just to hurt feelings. As they say on the SEPTA 61 bus, I ain’t gonna do any damage, but I’m gonna cut that bitch. I guess I’ve got an awfully fancy education for someone who’s voluntarily stepped onto the 61, but remember, education isn’t the same thing as intelligence, because it’s only with luck and usually some countermeasures that the two overlap.

The Stanford cap, then, doesn’t embarrass me precisely because I didn’t go there. It seems to be my one good cap these days, the only one that I haven’t stained and halfway worn out with excessive farm work and hiking, and it roughly matches my red sweater, which seems to be my only current sweater, period. Heh. Period. Red. Huh huh. Bunghole de Cornholio. Etc.

The Big Dick again Goes Hard. The manager of a diner outside Pittsburgh just asked me whether that was a Stanford hat. I wasn’t expecting anyone there to have a clue (ooh, did you just get one in the last paragraph? I did, too!). I didn’t catch all of what she told me after I confirmed her guess, but I’m thinking she was probably familiar with Stanford on account of the athletics. This is the school that admitted Chelsea Clinton but actually tries to fill its teams with reasonably literate, cultured, well-mannered youth, so that isn’t the worst reason to come across one’s interest. I don’t like to be the pretentious, arrogant asshole who goes around pronouncing others my intellectual inferiors; let’s just say that it doesn’t sidwell with me; but that smug, dimwitted, Arendt-abusing horse’s ass is my fucking intellectual inferior. Oh, yes, I’m sure she was admitted to her fine alma mater on sole and exclusive account of her academic and personal merit, and that I’m St. Thomas Aquinas.

There’s presumably a socioeconomic level above my parents’ at which legacy admissions start to leaven the matriculant pool, even at the Junior University. Far be it from me to disbelieve in the Steyer Shortcut, the Gates Go-Around (to go around the usual gates!), or the Clinton Cutoff. Hillary’s impertinent comment about how her buddy-old pal Mike Bloomberg is a real billionaire was actually obnoxiously pertinent to her gross worldview and to the no less gross corruption that it infused into her 2016 campaign. That’s a bad sign right there: looking back wistfully on 2008 as a time of Clintonian modesty. Most professional observers seem to think that the Clintons are worth mid to high eight figures, but they obviously punch well above their weight, due to the whole Clintonworld government-access thing (public service my fat white ass), so I consider it reasonable to assume low nine figures as a ballpark. I don’t know what the fuck the Trumps are worth, maybe more, maybe less, but they’ve got the presidency now, so regardless of how deep that clown crew is into debt, it’s golden for generations now, and for roughly the same reasons that the Clintons are.

The rich aren’t different from you and me and the Sanderses just because they have more money. That sounds nice, but it just isn’t so. Bernie and Jane have basically the same middle-class values as any number of doctors, nurses, cops, electricians, railroad engineers, and engineer engineers. A combination of thrift, decent luck in the housing market, and high earnings boosts plenty of people into a net worth in the low millions by retirement age. It’s harder for most people today than it was in the midcentury (thanks, guys!), but it still isn’t out of the question for young people who have high earnings and low debt, especially low student debt. (Of course, the relative percentages can still get bad enough to fuck a society up, and we’re already there.)

The Clintons were on track to top out as fairly run-of-the-mill yuppie shitheads, probably in the low millions, until that irresistibly charming little mischiefmaker with the infamously wandering schlong wormed his way into the presidency against an opposition divided between Giant Sucking Sound and Message I Care. That was when Billary was able to diversify from mercenary law, commodities speculation, and two-bit Arkie real estate cons into the good stuff. Wee Billy got the two of them into some legal debt towards the end of the administration by upsetting Gateside Downlow, J. Denny Dundiddly, Friar Dorkemada, and the whole crew with that little something-something with the plump Jewess, but that was perfectly easy and quick to overcome. They were the fucking Clintons. Retired from the White House, they were also freed from the meddlesome, sexually preoccupied oversight of their enemies in Congress, who incidentally cast aspersions on them for their seedier stunts, like their Lincoln Bedroom payola guesthouse deal.

The Clintons have successfully slashed and burned their way into a rarefied stratum in which the prevailing values get really warped and grotesque. Theirs have always been shit, even for the least reputable and most amoral swath of yuppies, but since their time in the White House, or at the latest a few months after their departure, they’ve been wealthy enough to amass riches halfway commensurate with their own avarice. Okay, half is probably a huge exaggeration, but I don’t feel like showing up out of nowhere with a word like “hundredthway.”

This is not a normal environment. The ambient levels of irresponsibility and unaccountability are stunning. Most financial millionaires have regular contact on a more or less equal basis with normal people from a fairly wide swath of the socioeconomic spectrum. They have no real choice in the matter, even it they’d like one: if they tried to buy their way out of this exposure to reality, they’d quickly go broke and ruin themselves. By somewhere around the Clintons’ level, the wealthy are able to permanently surround themselves with servants and sycophants, to bully or directly buy their way out of legal trouble, and generally secede from real life. Most financial millionaires would be aghast if they peeked inside.

A normal, healthy, sensible, well-balanced person would realize by somewhere in the mid-seven figures of net worth that that’s enough money to live securely and well, that more money might be helpful but that the existing foundation is rock solid and it’s worth giving some thanks. Billionaires, at least public ones, never seem content to enjoy their fucking money. They keep butting into our business. The DeVoses have their charter school hobbyhorse, while the Gateses lit a fire under everyone’s ass about Common Core. Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg couldn’t help himself when the poories upset him by drinking too much soda. Sheldon Adelson strives to be God. Tom Steyer has a compulsion to somehow unseat Donald Trump. Various obscenely rich shitheads like to get up on their high horses about bogus schemes like the flat tax.

What’s striking about Donald Trump in this context is his modesty. He didn’t claim a right to rule the rest of us on account of his wealth or credentials. He laid out a platform, incoherent and contradictory though it was, and encouraged Americans to give him a shot. When he did refer to his own wealth, it was often to admit that he knew the whole game was rigged because he’d worked it and watched it from the inside. If any rich jerk showed up on the political scene without an air of entitlement, it was Trump. This was refreshing.

Hillary Clinton sure as hell didn’t do that. Her entire campaign was premised on the assumption that everyone had a solemn duty to vote for her because she was the most qualified person in the race, how can you possibly not see that, and also a woman, you misogynistic prick. Between these pretensions and the Bernie ratfuck, she forfeited every possible residual bit of goodwill on the part of a huge-ass swath of the voters she needed to win the general election.

The class angle only made her look worse. She screwed over an opponent who was a normal guy with ambitions as normal as any presidential candidate’s and then made that crass comment about how her buddy Bloomberg was a real billionaire, in contrast to the poseur Trump. Okay, but what the fuck is that supposed to mean? I didn’t figure that Trump was a real billionaire myself, or that he necessarily had a positive net worth, but he looked less arrogant and more public-spirited than Hillary, who came with plenty of disreputable family baggage of her own. The possibility that a famous blowhard was bullshitting us about his wealth wasn’t going to cost him my vote under circumstances that included the grotesque corruption, rapacity, and spite of his main opponent.

The ruling class had obviously decided that Trump was a usurper; the bias was unmistakable. Watching him be accused of being worth less than he claimed, i.e., not totally loaded, just super loaded, didn’t help the bipartisan establishment’s case. For the same reasons, it was totally whatthefuckular to watch these stuck-up pieces of shit throw under the bus a normal guy with a normal wife who got along great with normal people and really appeared to feel a genuine respect for them, and then publicly suck up to this droning billionaire nutrition busybody whose shtick is basically to accuse poor people of being slovenly, ill-disciplined, and fat.

The kicker here, of course, was that Trump, uniquely among billionaires of whatever actual net worth, seemed to relish mixing it up with the little people and to maybe be sincere about having their best interests at heart. It’s hard not to wonder what the hell the Democrats thought they’d accomplish with this line of attack. “Oh, that rich piece of shit you deplorables are supporting from your basket? Yeah, well, he isn’t actually a stuck-up, out-of-touch rich guy; he just plays one on TV! Suckers!” That quite nicely complemented the Democratic stance that maybe he doesn’t hate the shit out of you and want you to all die, but we sure do.

This is the same crowd that acts like Americans still admire Warren Buffett and love him long-time for being a famous billionaire. What the fuck, y’all. Socialism is becoming more popular because the economy has been ruined by and at the direction of the very wealthy and an increasing number of us would rather leave less of the total wealth in the clammy hands of some miserly old cunt who takes his grandchildren out to Dairy Queen and acts like he doesn’t know the McDonald’s menu when NPR is along for the ride even though he claims to get his morning Egg McMuffin there every day. Yes, we and/or the government would spend Warren Buffett’s money better.

These rimjobbers are all like, oh, but he still lives in an old house in Omaha. Uh, yeah, BFD, homeys. Bully to that Congressman’s son for buying railroads and shit. Anybody working in the Union Pacific dispatch center is more admirable and useful than that, and Nebraska is also home to the Drought Monitor crew and Irakli Loladze. Who’s next up as an exemplar of heartland values? Sexy male code enforcement officer Lynn Rader? Our old boy Bill Thomas did all right for a fellow who never really left Wichita.

This is the kind of shit we get under leadership that can’t imagine anyone whose interests aren’t dominated by the doings of overhyped rich blowhards and the faint possibility of someday personally becoming filthy rich. Okay, let’s check in from New York on the part of the country where they still have morals and stuff and see what’s doing. Oh, cool, here’s some sermonizing geezer who owns BNSF and doesn’t treat his own children to lunch at Denny’s because he’d be expected to tip.

Stanford pulled the same shit with my Chinese-made hat. A guy passing me on a trail in Nevada City (yup, Wow Much Travels) called out, “Go Tree!” He assumed, reasonably enough, that it was my school as well as his. Yeah, well, Tree ain’t got the roots to support no American textile jobs. From my perspective, a cap is a cap as long as it doesn’t rep Dickinson (I am NOT doing free advertising for those shitheels), but that’s a funny situation for marketing swag for a school whose endowment is well into the tens of billions of dollars.

Will anyone at Stanford stand up to this and ask the development and licensing people, for the sake of decency and community, to have their marketing shiznit made in the USA? Not bloody likely. As Tom Friedman has told them at such tendentious anecdotal length, globalization is good for everyone who deserves good things and also inevitable and shit. It’s why olive farmers in the West Bank all own Lexuses. Every harvest is a December to Remember. Surely the cabbies who always have such interesting, and I do mean uninteresting, things to say to him wouldn’t tell Ami little fibs.

True MAGA, then, isn’t in buying some F&M swag off the shelf, but in hand-stitching and embroidering that shiznit all bespoke-like. Don’t count on my ever doing that, since I don’t have the best follow-through, but don’t count me entirely out, either. Firehat cross-stitched a Fuck Yo Titties doily, so there’s a precedent. Mine, I guess, is Fuck Yo College. I can’t afford to move back to Palo Alto on my own steam after what Stanford has done to the Mid-Peninsula, nay, the entire Bay Area, but I can afford some damn needles and thread, and God knows I’ve usually got the time.

What is sexual harassment?

To be blunt, here we go again. Not to worry, it’ll get worse before it gets better. Hey, baby, are you Sigmund Freud? Because I wouldn’t mind having you pull down my pants, lay me down on a couch, and “analyze” me, if you know what I mean. What, you call that “prostate stimulation,” and it’s sixty extra? Yeah, okay. Whatever.

I’ve actually found people asserting in all seriousness that one dare not refer to the rash of belated accusations against sexually aggressive men in high places as a witch hunt because witches were women unfairly targeted by a vicious patriarchy. Love too find a constituency that literally cannot and will not understand relevant figures of speech. That’s like saying that I can’t incorporate Elizabeth Wettlaufer into my sexy male nurse Lynn Majors memes because she’s a Canuck broad. Just because something is uncalled for doesn’t mean that it hasn’t already been done.

I understand that it’s impolitic to call a woman a broad these days, but I don’t see what’s so sensitive about being a serial murderer, either. We are, but of course, just cullen the herd. Midler’s story of her evening on the riverafront was different than I’d gathered from the original headlines, in that it’s both worse (being shoved into a bathroom and having poppers shoved into her nose) and buried deeper in the sands of time, as a 1991 accusation to the Superior Court of Baba Wawa about some shit from the seventies. Midler found this incident disturbing enough that she called it “unseemly” and accused Rivera of assaulting her because he was a grand narcissist and she hadn’t been sufficiently overawed by his sheer presence.

This isn’t a particularly compelling accusation. It isn’t totally incredible in the strict sense of the term, but good luck getting an impartial jury to take it all serious-like. We have a complainant who did not cry out at the time, said nothing publicly about the incident until, a generation later, a celebrity television journalist directly asked her to confirm or refute her alleged assailant’s book of sexual boasts, and now, another generation-plus later, the video of this accusation has “resurfaced.” The poor thing must have needed to come up for some air.

For an industry that is so consumed by salacious celebrity gossip, it’s bizarre that this story hasn’t been honored with permanent place of observance in the annals of high-profile perv. The very premise of it is irresistibly fucking hilarious: Bette Midler complaining to Barbara Walters about Geraldo Rivera. This is how you do celebrity gossip. It’s the goddamn Platonic Ideal.

You, child, will never have a thing to do with any of these overpaid kvetchers. I sometimes wonder if my more worry-prone bougies aren’t right that I’m wasting my talents, but then I look at the mainstream media self-seriously acting like this shit is relevant to the lives of normal people. It’s shameful to present this story as news. It’s a high Fitzgeraldian tale of socialites behaving badly, and anyone reputable openly looks down on it as exactly that. The diva bitched to the reporter lady with the New English speech impediment about the lace-curtain Spanish blowhard who even the diva admitted was kind of hot back then, as if that was somehow relevant to her claim that he had not seduced but sexually assaulted her. What is this? A game of “Holtzclaw: Hapa or Hot?” Like hell I’m gonna take these craven whiners seriously.

We’re expected to take the most craven whiners imaginable seriously every time one of them shows up with a decades-old sob story about an brief unpleasant encounter with a peer and agree that this horseshit is newsworthy. When SEPTA gets tripped up by its problem with knifepoint subway groping, it’s a brief item in the national headlines. That’s not only the same system but the same two-and-a-half line subway network (muh fuckin Ridge Avenue Spur) that had a fatal midafternoon hammer attack. It ain’t good to allow the town thugs and crazies to hit the rails for one-man Peter Gabriel and Jim Croce musicals, but the victims of these attacks are poors, like, shanty Irish chicks from the Northeast and shit, so who cares? Jim Bageant was only partly right: hologram don’t serve no discount white meat, either.

When I was little, I had a couple of vague intuitions that I’d been an Indonesian peasant or something in a previous life, and that it hadn’t gone too well and I must have been pretty lucky to have landed in Palo Alto this time. *Outgoing Andrew Chan voice* No argument there, mate. Everyone else with one of these experiences was supposedly a fucking princess, so I don’t know what gives. We often seem to be living the curse of the temporarily embarrassed millionaire, since it’s hard to see how else the lived experiences of Bette Midler, who’s more privileged than all but five or ten thousand Americans, are more relevant to normal people than those of women who ride the El. Heehee, I initially wrote that as “all butt.” True story.

The thing is, though, we aren’t the ones producing this bullshit coverage. That’s done by a rather sheltered crew of media professionals, increasingly drawn from the upper-middle and upper classes through pay-to-play scams like unpaid internships. They plainly don’t know how the rest of us live. I’m a downwardly mobile guy from Palo Alto who went to a Main Line-ass four-year college, and I think they’re seriously fucking out of touch. I can only extrapolate what a perceptive high-school dropout from Fremont or Stockton thinks of these over-the-top white girl grievance spectacles.

#TeshTips: while John over there pops some more Adderall and strikes up the Big Band, #BigBandStyle, maybe you should make sure that your victims aren’t in the top millipercentile of international privilege before adding their stories to the collected passions of the saints. Are we really to think that Bette Midler has had a hard-knocks life? *Serene St. Jean de Breboeuf Voice* Why, I can’t very well see how that would be the case, and I doubt I’ll long have the heart to examine it. Doctor, if you please, my eyes.

Misappropriating a Protofrancocanuck missionary to prophetically quote Jackson Browne during his torture and execution is more truthful and accurate than the nonsense we’ve been hearing about this sexual assault epidemic, which somehow seems to affect a whole lot of women who are trying to claw their way into show business and hardly any who have settled for normal jobs under the Colby Cosh Standard, like baristas and housekeepers and shit. Harvey Weinstein is obviously a predatory creep, and Matt Lauer sounds pretty bad on account of that remote-control button to lock his office door, if nothing else, but the gatekeepers publishing these stories refuse to discriminate between accusations of serious criminal conspiracies to facilitate serial sexual assault and Garrison Keillor momentarily being a hapless  dork.

That isn’t the only credibility problem that the #MeToo movement has. An old friend of mine who’s been active in feminist sexual assault callouts once told me that I’d feel more negatively about prostitution if I had “a female perspective.” Prostitution is just about the most overwhelmingly female line of work this side of surrogate pregnancy and wet nursing, so that’s fucking nonsense. I might as well tell a woman who enjoys watching UFC brawls that she’d feel differently if she were a man and that the bruisers she’s watching aren’t in touch with their own masculinity. It isn’t my place to tell another man that, man to man, his prizefighting offends me and he should therefore cut it out. And that’s something that, like football, can really, seriously fuck a person’s brain up, let me TELL you about their trauma. I’m not seeing a bunch of hookers retiring with CTE and pulling a Hernandez at his age, which is also Amy Winehouse’s. #TheMoreYouKnow #Rehab.

I just threw out a used pantyliner that some ditz had left on top of the toilet paper holder. At least she’d wrapped and taped it up, but what does she think I am, a colleague of Nurse Lynn’s? How dirty does she think I’ll get for a ten-cent bottle deposit? As they say in the nursing homes when they don’t have enough staff on duty for patient head calls, it depends. This just happened in a hella nice part of Chicago, up on fancypants Diversey. Come to think of it, there was that Starbucks shooting a few stores away last time I was in town, for what it’s worth. Just because I’m not in the ghetto (in the ghetto) doesn’t mean that the ghetto isn’t in me.

Out west, I’ve been there when they’ve pissed and shit on the floors, so I guess I’m doing all right.

Where the hell am I trying to go with this? That was a dramatically less disgusting expression of feminine power and energy and whatever the fuck than bourgeois sex scolding, for one thing. Lazy motherfuckers are never the real problem. Hell, the SEPTA downtown rail divisions are never that clean. Will I see YOU tonight? Another true story: I still have to make arrangements to get my white ass over to Pittsburgh this week, and I’ll be seeing firsthand whether the real trolleys or the imaginary ones are better. Hello, Neighbor. Beautiful fucking day.

Prostitution not being feminine because some scolds think it’s gross is great politics for the Land of Make-Believe. What’s next? Getting up and throwing out my used rag is gross, so I’ma leave it right here for someone else to toss? This is the borderline Gold Coast Northside, so yeah, probably. But that isn’t the politicization of menstruation any more than the SEPTA subway tracks are the politicization of trash noncollection. As I keep saying, all we have to do about the lazy is sometimes clean up after their bum asses. And I can’t stop thinking about how I came across the bloody rag while I was writing this screed. It’s fucking providence. Take it the last mile over to motherfucking Lake Shore and we’ll REALLY be talking.

Don’t mind me; the only time I’m on the Lake Shore is if it’s Limited. As they say, I’m really going off the rails now. Brandon Bostian be with you if you even think about adding “literally” to that. The fifteen hours of sleep I got last night must not have been enough to get me rested up. I really can’t see the Midler-intersectional spending Saturday night in coach on a redeye out of Las Vegas. I got a full bank of three seats over the wing to myself while a squad of Cornell he-athletes were shoehorned six abreast into the ass end of the ship, but still. Hey, I just said “breast.” Also, “ass.”

Maybe we can ask some of Chicago’s cold homeless about their thoughts on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” being problematic, as opposed to the not so predictable nights when it actually is cold outside and with luck you’ll make it to daybreak. Elvis, for all else that was wrong with him, seemed to recognize that Chicago really does get cold and that the cold wasn’t so damn charming in the Robert Taylor Homes.

There’s no end to the First World Problems, even in cities with large sections straight out of the Third World. I could always write a Tumblr post about how “Put a Ring on It” and “Baby I’m Worth It” are extortionate misandrist agitprop, but I try to have some fucking standards, believe it or not. Today’s bathroom isn’t anywhere near the worst I’ve seen this weekend. (*Most Dowager Duchess Voice* Yes, it is Monday, but what is a “week-end?”) That was the men’s room at the Millennium Park Metra/South Shore Line station. I’d always assumed that the Metra Electric District was pretty classy since they’d gone to the trouble of electrifying it, but I guess not so much. But sure, let’s get rich and complain about how some twee bit of holiday shit on the PA system in a chain of nice coffeehouses is triggering while we again ignore our national tradition of allowing people to shiver to death on our city streets. For the record, I’m the one who’s advocating for well-maintained public housing on demand, in part to help people get away from abusive cohabitants, and I support timely plowing, too, all the cool aldermanic shit, but I’m having trouble seeing how hey, how about you chill here and maybe we do the nasty in front of the fireplace like Nelson Rockefeller instead of walking home through a damn snowbank is super offensive. It’s the kind of Tin Pan Alley crap that they’re liable to play on Radio Deluxe, I get that, but it just looks like an awfully high horse that some of these folks are riding.

No, I don’t suppose all of that was worth as many hundreds of words as I just wasted on it, but this is the internet, and the actually pertinent stuff that I could have written about Nelson Rockefeller, race, and class is all kinds of bleak. IIRC, that motherfucker actually died while boning his mistress on a shag rug in front of the hearth. #Goals.

The panic over sexually aggressive men preying on vulnerable women might be reputable if it came from a position of decorum and quiet moral rectitude, but it comes from nothing of the sort. We’ve got a bunch of useless eaters who revel in the salacious expressing their shock and outrage that some other useless eaters turn out to have behaved salaciously. What, exactly, did we expect of Hollywood? This shit isn’t novel. Geraldo, who previously groveled about how sorry he was to have posted that topless selfie because he thought he looked damn good for an old guy not wearing any clothes, is now groveling about how sorry he is that he published a memoir about all the hot tail he’d pulled. Who the hell do we think he is? Walter Cronkite? The guy never made a point of being a stuffy prude. As Marc Randazza said, Mike Wallace never opened a broadcast with, “Tonight, on 60 Minutes, we watch Ethel Merman fuck.”

There has been wholesome, edifying material available all along as a refuge from the coarse shit polluting the mainstream, but now that there’s a moral panic afoot about handsy guys in high places, a bunch of people who have spent the last ten, twenty, or forty years watching, listening to, and reading a whole lot of garbage are popping out of the woodwork to express their shock and outrage about how the news and entertainment businesses aren’t as scrupulously clean as they’d hoped. We have to hear this high dudgeon from people who moved heaven and earth to hire on at NBC when there were openings at The American Conservative. 

At some point, it’s reasonable to tell them to get the fuck out of here. This shit is of a piece with the handwringy comment that the Insurance Schmuck made to me about how I shouldn’t make comments to women about charging by the hour, and meanwhile he and his girlfriend had invited me over to their hotel room specifically to watch “90-Day Fiancee” and had spent much of the weekend gossiping floridly about how the woman to whom I’d made the offensive comment was about to get blindsided by a train wreck of a first date with our mutual friend, the one who’d penned the ridiculous “Class Note” about Bill Durden and Charles Nisbet.

I’m not sure if there was a straightforward, coherent way to lay out the context, but I don’t doubt that I missed it. Here’s the point: DO NOT criticize my manners or morals if you’ve just gotten me to come over and watch painfully trashy television about Cylvia and the Abyssinian Gentleman minus the common sense. Left to my own devices, there’s no fucking way I’d watch a shitty, bogus documentary about a fat bitch with BPD from Florida (of course) who used Myspace Angles to lure a Moroccan hunk into a long-distance romance followed by another one about a highstrung beta dork from Downstate Illinois or some shit who offended his Filipina girlfriend by balking at the roast whole hog on a spit that her parents had supposedly brought and prepared in his honor at their expense. Don’t act like the crucial act of moral courage in our society is to take some damn Imodium and partake of the hog if you’re a sellout with terrible taste in television and a muddled sense of the line between fiction and journalism. Getting upset because some dipshit with obvious emotional problems on a bottomfeeding television series full of dipshits with obvious emotional problems couldn’t suck it up, save face, and have some diarrhea by just eating a plate of the feast pork is deeply pathetic.

It is not unreasonable of me to hope that someone who has asked me over to watch such garbage-ass fucking gutter television will wait a few hours, and preferably a few days, before casting aspersions on my maturity or tact. This is basic shit, like not receiving the Eucharist right after eating six thousand calories at a Chinese buffet and spending the balance of the afternoon having an orgy with mistresses. Yes, I am better able to integrate multiple conflicting cultures than some of my friends and acquaintances are able to function in a single dysfunctional culture that they never question. Our high-end colleges only pretend to teach the liberal arts. Engage The World my fat white ass.

It’s painful to be modest in our hellscape of a society. What I mean by modesty here is, if you’ll pardon the recursion, pretty modest, like admitting that I don’t have all the fucking answers to absolutely everything right now, so I’m trying to discern the details and the implications of a bunch of heavy shit and bear witness to them as I can, but in the meantime, one moral line that I can draw is against televised bum fights involving people with serious psychological, social, and behavioral problems impulsively jumping into the most inadvisable marriages for no other reason than to comply with some regulations on spousal visas. E.g., if you really wanna watch that shit, maybe refrain from criticizing a borderline off-color comment that I made to a Canuck chick the previous night, a night when I also mentioned to her that I’d researched the Canadian immigration process for purposes of possibly expatriating. It’s ungoddamnbelievable: I look through the fucking official immigration websites of a country neighboring mine where I already speak the dominant language (sorey, mes mecs), and then I get flak for my bad manners from a guy who admitted, unbidden, to having hazed me for five years and whose interest in immigration focuses on a shitty docudrama about monolingual assholes who try to get their lovers to move thousands of miles across an ocean for a life of domestic verbal abuse and acrimony.

Geraldo, who was a real mensch the time he had dinner with my parents, has never gotten me into a pain-in-the-ass situation like that. Nor have I ever had something that cool happen to me at O’Hare, although the Manchu Wok, I believe it is, has some bitchin’ combo plates waiting for those who have the scheduling flexibility and the favorable fares not to have to land at a quarter past five in the morning. The fellow’s been on television for decades, and he’s never chapped my ass with bad content the way the Insurance Schmuck and his latest girlfriend did. Do I sound like I consider it a mitigating factor that that’s one of the programs they watch on their date night? That shit is “Jackass,” but from several circles deeper in hell. No one involved has the basic decency to personally do the stupid, self-destructive shit and leave others out of it.

Criticizing another person’s tact while watching that trash is like Pot-o-Shit Friend walking onto a med-surg unit and lecturing the nurses about how they shouldn’t talk about patient’s bowel movements so much. Nursing will still be super gross (medical nursing, at least), but there’s no need to bring in critics who have the least possible moral credibility.

It’s questionable enough that people who do not strive to shelter themselves from a mainstream culture awash in sexual crudity, and who even revel in it, are now all worked up that some guys in high places were sexually crude. How could we expect Matt Lauer to be upstanding? He worked for goddamn NBC. He was gross in private around a network that airs Chicago PD, SVU, and The Apprentice in public. Let’s be honest: if he was afoul of the prevailing community standards of his workplace, he wasn’t by much. There comes a point at which the only responsible thing to do is to demand some moral coherence, to assert that the neverending broadcast of trash is evidence of trash in the soul. I don’t feel clean for having watched so much NBC, so why should anyone working the bigtime at the Rock feel clean for having produced it, and for that matter, having thought it up in the first place? None of us has any obligation to offer endless moral impunity to people who grew and stayed wealthy and powerful by airing grotesquely bathetic crap that’s half about Burgess (drop the last two letters for a really fun time) screwing the guy who first played the unwittingly incestuous brother on SVU and half about Voight nearly gouging some guy’s eye out with a Bowie knife and then somehow having the time to go down to Millennium Park and stare at the lake again.

This is why I was so encouraged to see a morbidly obese guy waddle off a real fire truck in real Chicago last year and put meat into meatspace. It’s why I’m always encouraged to see friendly, middle-aged townie cops whose careers aren’t going anywhere walk around O’Hare doing absolutely nothing and allowing the homeless to sleep in front of baggage claim, at least for another half hour or so. They’re too normal and decent for television.

We can tell that we’re dealing with a moral panic about sexual harassment because we hear nonsense about our duty to believe victims. Oh? Am I to believe Psychotarp when he blames arson on antisemitism? Am I to believe that there was even a fire? In any other circumstances, one would reasonably expect the standard of credence to be credibility. E.g., a woman passed out in the bushes with her underwear pulled down while a couple of Swedes have Brock Turner under citizen’s arrest are more credible than some story about how the aliens totally downloaded a copy of my soul through my ass. Not that there aren’t plenty of, dare we say, shades of gray.

More Turner diaries? You fuckin’ betcha. We’re supposedly suffering from a rape epidemic wherever white bougie chicks go, but we’re also gushing without embarrassment about a lurid, cheaply written series of novels about a Criminal Minds-grade sadist serially humiliating his dipshit lover. Everyone got all worked up about Turner, even though he served a custodial sentence for a one-off crime of opportunity and now has to register as a sex offender, and even though the community where he committed his crime is exceptionally safe and orderly. It sure seems that we, as a society, are deliberately failing to reasonably assess threats. We’ve got desk-duty NYPD or someone serially murdering escorts on Long Island and dumping their remains on the beach, and that’s left to Newsday to cover while an opportunist from the swim team gets wall-to-wall coverage for a single rape that came nowhere near homicide.

The mob is baying for carceral overkill. Third-party observers got their jollies by raking Brock Turner’s dad over the coals for some tone-deaf remarks about how his boy couldn’t enjoy a nice steak on account of the rape charges. Well, for God’s sake, this was a distraught father whose son had just gotten into very serious legal trouble in an arbitrarily high-profile case. That isn’t evidence of rape culture, and it’s got no business influencing a verdict or a sentence. The deterrent effect of incarcerating rape convicts was served in the Turner case, and the judge got hounded out of office for his trouble, even though he sounded like a decent, modest man who wanted to do his job as fairly as he possibly could and was eager to hear constructive criticism about how he could do it better. He wasn’t in it to let Blondie off the hook; he just fell into the media/vigilante buzzsaw in a case that he was randomly assigned for giving a lenient sentence to a first-time defendant who was affluent enough to afford adequate legal counsel.

We’re obviously going at sentencing disparities from the wrong angle. We’re getting it ass-backwards. Turner’s sentence is closer to a reasonable sentence for a first-time, opportunistic rapist than any statutory maximum. The United States has way the hell too many people in prison for no good reason, mainly because some loudmouths won’t shut up about their raging bloodlust. There’s a relative handful of hardened, dangerous criminals who need to be in prison for a long time, maybe until they’re brought out in pine boxes: Chapo, Silverstein, Shoes Go Boom, Mr. Explodeypants. These four already have their permanent home on the range, conveniently down the tier from Professor Kaczynski in case they’re interested in a Ted Talk. Realistically, it’s the Ted Talk that’s interested in them, but they’re around for it regardless. That said, we can account for these thugs and hundreds of others who are less prominent but equally dangerous and still have well over 99% of our total prison population giving us absolutely nothing by virtue of their incarceration. All we get by throwing the book at the rest is the ruination of men we refuse to rehabilitate.

Yes, this includes forcible rapists, and it damn well includes opportunists who once took advantage of drunks, who occupy a crazier, more dangerous quantum than Anthony Weiner will ever explore. A just society with the rule of law would not throw reformed or even reformable sexual assailants to the wolves just because some busybodies who don’t have anything better to get upset about are preoccupied with the sexual degradation of rich white girls.

I don’t think I’m painting with an awfully broad brush. Precious little of the upset has been on behalf of the communities that are statistically most prone to sexual violence: white trailer parks, the ghetto, the barrio, the Rez. Rape a Stanford woman, though, and God save you from the lynch mob.

Again, I have a really eerie feeling about the abuse that’s been heaped on Brock Turner specifically. It’s much like what Bette Midler explicitly had to say about Geraldo Rivera: what he did was gross, but damned if he isn’t hot. The Turner case really doesn’t say much about current sexual assault jurisprudence, except for his placement on the sex offender registry for a first-time offense that did not result in serious bodily injury or death, but no one in the mob is looking at it from that angle because they’re all too busy with Two Minutes Hate. Turner’s crime was heinous by absolute standards, but relatively speaking, as sex crimes go, it was pretty minor, with a relatively low risk of lasting damage to his victim, the obvious exception being the transmission of venereal diseases. That’s the main thing I’d be worried about if I woke up to be told that a stranger had anally raped me while I was passed out drunk; otherwise, there’d just be a huge yuck factor.

Slightly off topic, yes, I support without reservation a rape exception to restrictions on abortion. We’ve got enough dysgenic horrors on the scene without forcing women to carry to term the products of rape, and we unfortunately do not remotely have the capacity to properly raise and care for unwanted children who likelier than not have been badly damaged by their own genetic backgrounds and circumstances of conception.

The basic problem with all of this shit is that an awful lot of people won’t level with themselves or with anyone else about what they really mean. Fundamentally, harassment or assault has to be unwanted. Dagmar Midcap pinching my nipples because she’s drunk off her rocker wouldn’t be nearly as bad as Lieutenant Tittytorque having an inexplicably homoerotic moment on me for a straight guy with a live-in girlfriend. As I discussed in an earlier screed, he had that bit of fun at my expense, and I’ve gotten over it. I’m not Bette Midler. Bette Midler, who is Bette Midler, is being given the latitude not to get over her ancient Gerry Grab, presumably because she’s Bette Midler and that can’t possibly be privilege enough.

Then we’ve got the weird funhouse experience of Matt Lauer’s quid pro quo mania being a summary firing offense and Garrison Keillor having once been an apologetically touchy-feely sperg is also a summary firing offense. How much of this, we might ask, is a function of preferring the idea of an extended Matt Moment to a brief Prairie Horn Companion? This stuff starts to seem awfully subjective, and awfully unfair. And that’s ignoring questions about why exactly all these scandals are emerging right now. Here comes that deep state feeling again. Maybe. It’s hard to say for sure whether this is actually a belated month of reckoning for powerful workplace perverts or a live-action Archer episode. Having heard what I’ve heard about the military-media-industrial complex, I wouldn’t bet on morality here.

Something disturbing to keep in mind is that our general conceptions of sexual harassment seem to involve rather little actual harassment and rather much of, gee, I can’t imagine why Danny Pino is staring at Mariska Hargitay’s ass so intently. This is a longstanding problem: the infamous VA sexual harassment training video from the early nineties (say, Bette Midler’s confessional moment with Baba Wawa!) certainly had preternaturally good-looking acting talent (okay, not so talented, exactly) for an in-house government PR department production. Judging from that masterpiece, complete with the black VA director in the narrator’s chair next to the fireplace, Alistair Cooke-style, sexual harassment means a handsome sleazeball leering at a hot secretary in a miniskirt while she retrieves some files for him. That is, our hard-earned tax dollars and shit went to the production of a federal pornographic film, or, to be magnanimous, a shitty soap opera that didn’t even attempt a plot.

The common Freudian slip about “sexual harassment training,” which I deliberately used above, is instructive, as was that crappy video. There’s no end to the vicious things that a supervisor can do to a direct report in an office, but for some reason no one in this country likes to look at the majority of these scenarios that aren’t sexually charged. That’s how irresistible it is to watch derivative softcore porn premised on the crucial files being in the lowest drawer in the cabinet. Hmm.

Let’s get our heads out of our asses, and the gutter: that’s an ergonomic problem much more than it is a hostile environment problem, but it’s easily enough solved by also having cabinet at, say, crotch height (hey!) and chest height (hey hey hey!), quite unlike situations in which all the strawberries are growing on the same mound and you’ll ruin your back picking them and then go home to the rundown shack where you’re hotbunking in Watsonville. Great: more First World Problems. Do pair this White Whine with a Manchego Fuck Yourself.

It’s worth asking why this beleaguered sweet thing couldn’t just tell the jerk to knock it off if she catches him sneaking that look. Italian women deal with subway gropers by yelling at them to keep their grubby hands to themselves and then activating the quorum for a purse smackdown until the next stop, which is suddenly the pervert’s destination. In this case, though, we’ve got a woman who has chosen to dress a bit revealingly for an office job, and we’re to feel outraged on her behalf whenever some minor sleaze finds a pretext to enjoy the view.

This feels awfully like a situation in which we want women to be strong enough to function somewhat normally in office settings but not strong enough to stand up for themselves and stop being submissively sexy. Cui bono here? The Hillary Clinton campaign, for one. The elements that benefit from having women feel beleaguered in normal professional situations are consistently rotten and self-serving. There’s a real air of learned helplessness, in fact, programmed helplessness, to this arrangement. It’s hard to see how all these PSA’s and training materials stop sexually aggressive men from being gross around the office, since these were never ones to be scrupulous before the rules in the first place, but it’s quite easy to see how all this concern is just another way to bathe an entire society in sexually provocative content.

It’s exhausting to even think about why this campaign has been undertaken. Is it to implicitly distinguish the alpha men from the beta bitch boys? Is it just to satisfy the lawyers? Is it to give underemployed writers, screen actors, and PR dipshits something to do for a living? Is it a deep-cover entertainment project masquerading as HR compliance? The whole project seems to have a very limited number of ways to go right and limitless ways to go wrong. #TheMoreYouKnow, asshole.

We do enjoy good-looking men and above-average children, but strong women not so much. Women who stand up for themselves just aren’t as much psychosexual fun, and they leave the otherwise useless parts of the administrative apparatus with nothing to do. This is one of the unfortunate situations in which my Boy Scout training comes in handsy–I mean, handy: Chesterfield my leg, so I slapped him! Yelling works, too.

Mind you, no one in charge of this joint is about to condition the help to be comprehensively assertive before management. That would really fuck up some rice bowls, and this crew knows that the white-n-fluffy comes first. Operant conditioning that trains those receiving it to refuse and resist operant conditioning is self-defeating, and in spite of all the harebrained, redundant, pointless, inherently contradictory campaigns of nonsense that HR and PR think up and deploy, they’ve got enough Bernaysian master manipulators on board not to corrupt the language of the core operating system.

Great. Another piece about sexy fun time ended up being about some kind of pie-in-the-sky Benedict Option Jeffersonian resistance campaign waged through samizdat and backchannel peer-to-peer networking and all that kind of shit. If you came by for Dubai Porta Potty, and most of you still do, you’re most welcome.

But this is where it must end. Go in piss. I have train and bus reservations yet to make, through Cleveland. No, I will not be traveling by steamer. I have no idea why one would think to do such a thing when there has been direct train service for well over a century and, pride of th’American side or otherwise, it’s a long trip past Sault Ste. Marie. Ring a church bell in Detroit if you get worried, since you might as well ring it for the fucking locals, too, the way they’ve been running that place.

All the same, I see no need to fly and look down on anyone. American and Boeing fucked up my ears and sinuses badly enough when I was finally starting to get some sleep last night that I don’t mind literally taking the low road. Yes, the Water Level Route. Yes, to Cleveland, with a connection to Fred’s Trolley Town. No, not on a steamer. I can’t help you. You’ll have to go steam your own.

Edmund Fitzgerald, pray for us all.

Advent for assholes

Sure enough, Dickinson Fucking College got in on Giving Tuesday. That crew never misses an opportunity to forcibly board a bandwagon and chase the almighty dollar. I know about this because I’m on the junk mailing lists. That isn’t why I signed up. I meant to stay abreast of events that might be worth attending and in touch with cool people, not constantly pestered for alms that I’d sooner give the Dunkin’ Doorman and, when I do show up at alumni events, gang-dissed by the most condescending shitheads on earth. They’ve got plenty of people other than me in their donor pool whose affluence is matched only by their vanity, but to call them out of the woodwork they have to blast everyone with their happy horseshit, and all who wander into range walk away dirtied.

Mind you, the Dunkin’ Doorman is still a reliable pain in the ass and a low funding priority, but he compares well. The only way I’ve gotten mixed up with him is by going into the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street from the Atlantic City bus station, and that means that there are two or three fine styles of ride ready to whisk me the fuck out of there at all hours of the day and night, and an even finer style of ride out past the outlets and the convention center. Dickinson collects the very worst people on the Main Line in a remote municipality that might as well not have mass transit. As New Jerseyans go, the Dunkin’ Doorman is a big improvement over the two Italian asshats at our table at alumni weekend, including a guy who was method-acting Rudy Giuliani. Those pushy, condescending motherfuckers didn’t need three minutes to set my feelings about the Italians back a century and a quarter. Instead of belittling me for not being a gung-ho fuckjob about our alma mater and dubiously referring verbatim to Dickinson’s increased “diversity,” which they barely were not, they ought to be quietly and humbly grateful that their wop-ass ancestors weren’t sent back to Sicily, just as I’m grateful that my grandfather wasn’t sent back to Russia for being a kike.

Okay, to England. Cheerio, cunts!

The Dunkin’ Doorman has never thought less of me for being the only whitey in the shop; he thinks less of me because I’m a jerk who won’t buy him a coffee. We judge one another by the content of our character, and I do mean judge. God bless America. As I insist, he’s one annoying son of a bitch, and I don’t seem to be the only person who feels that way, but at least he doesn’t constantly hector me about how a college education that has already cost my parents something like $140 for every day that I was present on campus is worth even more. Haven’t they already coughed up enough for that shit? How are the returns on an endowment principle of over $400 million plus enough to tuition per full-fare student to buy a nice house somewhere sensible not enough to keep that fucking joint afloat? Like public broadcasting, these needy assholes just need to suckle at every possible tit. The Dunkin’ Doorman wouldn’t mind doing that himself, and muscling in on some nonconsensual kaffeeklatsch in the process, but he’s a loser trying to get by in the ghetto (in the ghetto), not a fabulously well endowed college with a rather affluent parent and alumni base.

The faculty, who actually worth a damn, aren’t all stacking mad cash from that gig, but Bill Durden was worth something like $7 million and a free mansion. The general problem here is that charitable organizations are allowed to pay their executives whole multiples of the maximum pay grades available to career civil servants and still maintain their tax-exempt status, no questions asked. The specific problem is that Bill Durden’s fair market value crashed to parity with the Dunkin’ Doorman’s by 2004 at the latest, and then he got involved in a criminal conspiracy involving the college police department and at least two of its very bad cops. Dickinson could have rotated up any number of career faculty members who wouldn’t have wasted our attention telling longwinded bullshit stories about our dear intersectional Founding Fathers and would have been more likely than Durden to promptly clean house at DPS. Instead they recruited an over-the-top Mr. Chips dipshit who evolved into an ever more bizarre caricature of himself. Instead of putting someone accountable in the job, they tolerated a president who obfuscated and lied his way out of a serious crisis that was one whistleblower complaint to outside investigators away from possibly getting him criminally indicted.

What do Durden’s smitten alumni say? Oh, I know you feel he shouldn’t have done that, but he really improved the college’s standing. How can we fire Holtzclaw? His stats are great. Jerry Sandusky: An Appreciation of the Winningest Coach in the Conference. Put me in; I’m ready to play! How can we remove Bill Clinton from office? He’s a liberal! (He damn well is not.)

The Durd’s followers don’t consider the Darlington/Sexton/Fazio clusterfuck a dealbreaker, if they’ve heard of it, because they’re followers in a full-blown cult. Their precious college has a higher calling that putting an immediate stop to criminal wilding on its private police force. It has a higher calling than disclosing the scope of its campus police powers and activities as dictated by federal law. Let’s not die on these piddling hills. Let’s be prestigious instead.

Hence the Giving Tuesday appeal from *MY OLD SCHOOL*. This is where we get into even deeper, more pervasive cult brainwashing. Our national observances of the seasons keep crashing through false floors into ever-deeper circles of hell. We’ve long had Thanksgiving as an observance of late fall, and we’ve longer had Christmas and New Year’s Day as observances of winter. So far, so good. Jesus in fact is not the reason for the season. That’s cheap reactionary authoritarian horseshit. If you want to find Christianity in these pages, scroll back through the archives to the cat stuff. I’m not here to spit out comprehensive apologetics in defense of Christian-occult syncretism, and frankly these pages suffer from a 1:1,312 ratio of cat stuff to Northside Juice and the Shady Blues memes, give or take some math, and some professional standards. From the start, Christmas celebrations incorporated hella pagan imagery and rituals. The old pagans were into some deep shit involving the natural world, and so were the early Christians and the ancient Israelites.

The commercialization of the holiday season isn’t just atrocious Christianity; it’s also atrocious paganism. It’s an utter deracination from everything true and profound and edifying, a stupefying, literally goddamned waste. It is carefully crafted to alienate us from ourselves, our communities, any spirituality that we might discern, and our past, an elaborate, unceasing Bernaysian mindfuck. One could write off the bulk of Rod Dreher’s commentary as the theocratic nonsense of the religiously preoccupied and still be completely convinced that he’s absolutely right about the Benedict Option. Anyone from any tradition that values wisdom or independence of mind cherishes refuges from this hideous onslaught. I’m able to tolerate the hopped-up Christmas schmaltz that they’re playing in this Starbucks only because I’ve gone borderline insensate and need a wifi connection.

This shit has nothing to do with Christ or Christianity and hardly a thing to do with winter as any halfway attentive and perceptive person experiences it. It’s marketing copy in a society whose marketing copy has gone haywire. It wasn’t long ago, well within the time that I’ve been old enough to appreciate these things, that Black Friday was an obscure bit of retail industry shorthand, a term that a person not directly involved with retail would have known. It crept into the loudmouth business media around the turn of the millennium, and then the marketeers decided that it was the ticket to goad reluctant consumers into Stakhanovite overdrive.

If retailers’ business models were so shitty that they operated in the red for eleven months of the year, it’s hard to see how that was their customers’ problem; maybe they should have sold stuff that was somehow worth buying instead. But it is our problem now; they’ve made it our problem. They’ve programmed us to respond like Pavlov’s dogs to discounts on the shit they’re hawking.

Black Friday was historically the first big revenue day because Americans had the basic reverence to spend Thanksgiving doing something other than trampling their neighbors in doorbuster frenzies. This disappointed the marketeers, so they started conditioning the most programmable of us to desecrate Thanksgiving Day itself by excusing ourselves from family dinners, if we even went in the first place, with the most rapaciously venal profanity. They conditioned us to spend one of our most treasured national feast days camping out in front of department stores, waiting on arbitrary opening hours and artificial scarcities that had been calibrated for maximum operant conditioning.

Thanksgiving had always been one of our civic jubilee Sabbaths, a day when Denny’s would be open, as America’s Diner Always Is, but Best Buy would not. As Black Friday celebrations were instituted with ratcheting aggression, Thanksgiving became yet another day that retail employees could no longer expect their bosses to allow them some rest. Compulsory Sabbath observance was a huge labor-left agenda item back in the day; that’s why there’s no Sunday mail delivery. The US Mail is worth delivering on some kind of prompt and regular basis, but instead of 365-day mail delivery, we have assholes shoving each other on Thanksgiving night to get to the last discount flatscreen TV.

We’d have to move into monasteries to get away from this profanation of our high holidays. It isn’t just Black Friday anymore. We started hearing about Cyber Monday, when sheltered dipshits with cushy office jobs spend company time buying Christmas presents instead of thinking about how they wouldn’t gross one red cent picking fruit piecerate if they spent the day diddling around on their phones (you’re welcome), and then the me-too fringe constituencies that were jealous of all the attention big business was hogging started muscling in with their own official marketing days. Now we have Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday. What, pray tell, about the other 363 (or 364!) days of the year that might be available to shop at small businesses or give to charity? Shut up and pay up, asshole.

Dickinson College certainly doesn’t mind using the other 363. If they think there’s some milk to be had, they’re yanking the udder. Far be it from them not to pull that titty, or to ask permission before reaching for mine. As I said, they wouldn’t be able to call forth all the vain shitheads to give alms if they were humble, modest, or considerate.

This sort of invective rubs quite a few people the wrong way. They react to it as the ranting of killjoys. Who am I to be the bitch to kill their vibe? Who died and made me king of anything? Shit, Bareilles is weird as fuck, but she’s better than any of the assholes getting the heavy rotation on easy listening/Top 40 radio this time of year. If you’re listening to it, it’s for you, and if you’re listening to that, you’re one of the programmable ones.

I seek to kill that vibe because it sucks, to cure what’s deep inside my nation, frightened of the cost of airfare to Nairobi. Toto memes have nothing on what passes for Christmas music these days for sheer Potemkin Village idiocy. Bear in mind that I’m not complaining about anyone trying to give thanks, to be still and observe and contemplate the winter so as to understand it more deeply, or for that matter to meet basic material needs; far from it. But the holidays have been perverted into a full month of avarice and ingratitude, an orgy of thoughtless greed. I’m tempted to call it parochial, but this spirit is far too narrow to give a moment’s thought to the needs of an entire parish. The schmaltzy shit they’re playing at Starbucks, and I don’t feel like investigating how many other chain stores, has nothing to do with any of the deep truths of the season, let alone of life in general; it’s muzak engineered to deaden the mind and condition what we used to call citizens to spend more money on consumer goods that they don’t need while their poor neighbors, who still exist even in a society as fabulously wealthy as the United States, go without and are further marginalized into an even more humiliating existence.

Maybe, just maybe, the poor wouldn’t have such a hard time of it if the affluent and, to be even bolder, the shitbirds in the marketing departments conceded that there is some virtue to fasting and being still. Don’t say that it will never happen, but do realize that it’s a tall order, one requiring the reassertion of a long-lost independence of mind and civic courage. Thomas Jefferson, for all his grotesque flaws, damn well hoped that we’d turn out better than this as a nation. That’s why I’m Extremely Online, vomiting forth the liberal arts that I had to steal the time to study when I was in college. Tom Wolfe, as channeled by Jojo and Hoyt, was right: there is no such thing, for we are all slaves. Except for that dork Gellin and anyone who thinks he’s Patton for just for fucking up a rogue Chippie’s face in a street fight. Funny thing: that little beef wasn’t written up as a police discipline problem, either. Wolfe has a keen finger on our arrhythmic pulse.

You’re probably going to have to find your own way this holiday season, just as I have, and for uncountable seasons to come. We’ve got a whole shitload of operant conditioning to deprogram. America has come to be a society that abhors independent thought, even in its universities. The church halls used to be the bigger problem here, but lately there’s been more civics holding religion accountable than there has been informing education or civics itself. If nothing else, we have another month of hellish music having nothing to do with things of God and little to do with things of wintertime to suffer. We might have better Christmas music, even Christian music, but the marketing departments wouldn’t approve. I’m convinced that Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” has saved Londoners and Seattleites from winter suicides. I know, a lot of good it did the drunkard herself, and it’s only a strong hunch, but this is America, so that’s the least bizarre thing you’re allowed to believe without evidence. Great bell section, tho. It isn’t natural law that keeps our honest music so obscure; it’s privately administered positive law. Not that Americans are raised to consider that corporations can exercise any sort of tyranny, mind you.

So all I can offer in closing, on this day that we learned of Garrison Keillor’s pianissimo firing for workplace perv (writers alma knock it off, am I right?), is to note that we once again have Roy Orbison singing for the horny, and to offer what Nicolae Ceausescu counseled in his farewell address to his people:

Step into Christmas before Christmas steps into you.

Don’t fence me out

Funny thing: telling voters that their hometowns, the places where their families have lived for generations beyond living memory in some cases, have arbitrarily been slated for depopulation and that it is their sacrosanct civic duty to shut the fuck up, cut the nostalgia, get with the program, retrain at their own expense for jobs of the future that may not still be available when they get out of school, and relocate, also at their own expense, to some costly part of the country where they have no friends or family is a losing political proposition. It raises hackles in the heartland. Angry voters who very sensibly believe that their communities and their very survival are under imminent threat vote against it.

Sheltered centrist idiots who have spent a generation or two shitting on these same voters and communities can’t for the life of them imagine what provoked these sore losers to vote for Donald Trump. The lack of empathy here is hard to believe. Intellectually I’m perfectly well aware of how arrogant the yuppie swarm gets when challenged, but I’m still blown away to hear it or hear about it. It’s apparently a total, absolute inability to understand how or why the same voters and communities that they’ve been shitting on for two generations, ever more violently by the year, would want to put a stop to the depredation and would rationally vote for the candidate who explicitly promised to restore their communities to health and prosperity. They can’t imagine that these voters didn’t fully trust the good faith of Hillary Clinton, the her of #WithHer, a woman who had been directly involved in yuppie depredations going back to the seventies, was hesitant to engage with blue-collar voters, and couldn’t hide her contempt when she did comment on their plight. Now that this constituency has cost them their prized election, they can’t refrain from trying to shame these same voters into belated compliance by accusing them of voting against Hillary due to their rank racial and sexual bigotry, since it’s obviously impossible that their woke slay queen alienated them with blatant, open personal insults in the course of bitterly complaining about their lack of enthusiasm for her campaign.

Wisconsin may have been off the schedule, but these good Democrats are always up for a vacation back to their favorite part of Ohio: Whinesburg. Ooh, call Engine 51; you just got burned! As cheap as that was, I can pretty well guarantee that anything the centrists would think up in response would be completely fucking lame. Trump’s “Little Rocket Man” is fun. “Nothingburger” bores the sweet everloving shit out of anyone normal.

Right there we have a critical weakness in Clintonworld. If voters assume that they’re about to get ripped a new one regardless, why shouldn’t they go for the class clown who will distract them with crude jokes instead of the tattletale valedictorian and class president who’s always salty that she isn’t more popular with the misfits? Of course, there’s always the smart kid in the back of the classroom who didn’t have a lot to say but stood up for the loner scapegoats when bullies picked on them and seemed to get along well enough with most of the class. Surely this is one of the reasons why voters admire and trust Bernie Sanders: even if politics are still a glorified high school popularity contest, they’ve got someone stepping up to the plate who seems to transcend the bullshit, a basically normal person who focuses on serious issues like an adult instead of taking a side and stoking the communal unrest while the jocks and the nerds scheme to murder one another.

The Democrats couldn’t tolerate anyone so principled. They couldn’t even countenance him as the running mate on a ticket that he would have singlehandedly won for its divisive principal. They just had to take on that weird dork Tim Kaine and keep trying to humiliate Bernie while he barnstormed for them and their obscenely wealthy, widely hated ex-first lady kept plotting her revenge-of-the-nerds fantasies. They had to ineptly fume at their clownish opponent and, worse, his voters about how consummately meritocratic they were when they couldn’t even come up with serviceable retorts to his playground insults, let alone ignore them and get the debate back on topic. You know, like normal adults.

It’s the damnedest thing, but certain key constituencies didn’t take kindly to their constant belittlement by a sheltered clique of bitter try-hards. They didn’t enjoy being lectured about their bigotry and backwardness by neurotic, hypocritical, goody-two-shoes grifters who would never be sated no matter how much wealth and power they seized. They find it ridiculous, at best, to watch affluent centrist dipshits get triggered when Trump makes fun of Mika Brzezinski for looking like shit after a bad facelift. How in hell would they be able to afford facelifts? They can’t afford dental checkups.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find the decency and the self-control not to make fun of constituencies whose votes one hopes to win. Feeling genuine empathy for them should do the trick. Bernie sympathizes with industrial workers, current ones for doing honest labor well, laid-off and disabled ones for having run into bad luck while trying to make an honest living, and it comes through. He instinctively knows how to talk to and listen to hard hats. He gets their kitchen table concerns and the tricky nuances involved. He doesn’t blurt out that “we” are gonna put a bunch of coal miners out of work, even though he knows that the industry is on the skids and that mass layoffs come with the territory. He recognizes that good leadership requires working around company town busts, and that that’s always complicated and difficult. Plenty of people who’ve lived their whole lives in Appalachian coal towns very much want to diversify their economies so that they stop being dependent on the whims and uncontrollable commodity cycles of the coal industry. They trust Sanders for meeting them well more than halfway.

The Donald comes at industrial policy from a cruder, simpler, and frankly more ridiculous stance. He’s the guy who’s gonna fuck up everyone who took your job and make someone put you back to work. Most people in and around the coal industry know that this isn’t too damn likely, since they’re a lot savvier than coastal reporters and editors tend to gather on their occasional prole-whispering tours, but they also know that the thing about a Hail Mary pass is that it might, against the odds, be completed. Besides, there’s probably something to be gained by having a rough guy go rattle the cages of globalist elites and see what he can shake out of them.

It is not, then, irrational or self-destructive to vote for a man one considers a vulgar clown with no attention span because he seems to have his heart more or less in the right place and against a famously detail-oriented social climber because she seems to have her heart firmly in the wrong place. Frankly, Hillary Clinton did better with young people and minorities than I expected. That is, she established more popular credibility than I expected, far more credibility than I was willing to grant her at my most sympathetic. I expected more of Hillary’s supposed base to defect to Trump in an effort to protect their own economic self-interest. Hillary’s lack of gratitude to this base for turning out really rubs me the wrong way, and I can’t imagine that it hasn’t been damaged the Democratic Party’s overall reputation.

The Democratic strategists, the numbers nerds, knew where the disaffected voters were: specifically, in hella swing states. They knew that a bunch of Midwestern states that are always up for grabs were once again up for grabs. Knowing this, Hillary could have stumped in Wisconsin. Instead, she went to three performances of Hamilton. She didn’t have the time to tell Midwesterners living and voting today what she was planning to do for them, but she had plenty of time for encores of a trendy Broadway rap opera about what certain politically correct elements like to call dead white males. Engaged, independent-minded voters in the Midwest must be looking on like, what the fuck, man.

It’s perfectly reasonable, prudent, in fact, to wonder what the talented tenth wants to do with, or to, the teeming masses of provincial losers. I have a bachelor’s degree and no debt, and I just barely feel safe from their direct depredations. I have marketable craft and trade skills, too, and these seem pretty close to worthless in socioeconomic terms. It’s inevitable that the neoliberals will move the goalposts again, probably after they’ve successfully marketed their way into a STEM trainee glut.

Those of us left behind have been described as the “Unnecessariat.” The idea is that we’re surplus and irrelevant and therefore should be left to our own devices, to flounder. A darker, but no less credible, assessment is that our betters want us to go to hell and die. The link above includes some alarming maps of suicide and drug overdose epidemics. These are obviously true crises devastating large regions of the country. It should come as no surprise that voters in many of the affected counties supported Donald Trump. That’s the least they could do to rebuke the neoliberal order and the Wellesley-Yale yuppie trying to brightside them into continuing to support it.

The things that national and transnational elites have done to many of these communities are the stuff of civil wars. We’re all lucky that the devastation of these places hasn’t provoked systemic insurrection or guerrilla violence, but it would be hard to blame people for taking up arms when their hometowns are in the grip of deliberately engineered social collapses verging on genocide. The language and intellectual framework of international human rights policy really are apt and useful here. The neoliberal masters of the universe would rather not have to send in tanks stateside, but they most certainly are scheming to force the removal and internal displacement of vulnerable minorities from their hometowns. It’s no defense that these minorities happen to be majority-white and distinguished mainly by class, not indelible ethnic or racial markers. It’s still absolutely inexcusable.

Liberalism, as it has come to be construed over the past thirty or so years, doesn’t offer a fucking thing to the victims of this patchwork Trail of Tears. (Sick sidenote: more than a few of the white victims of the current dispossession campaign have significant Cherokee blood. #RaceTogether.) It offers sexual liberation on condition of chronic exposure to homelessness and starvation; fuck whom you like as you like, but go to hell if you expect to somehow get three hots and a cot out of this deal without enlisting in the armed forces. Don’t expect the universe to hand you enough money to afford car repairs, medical care, or food just because you work yourself to the bone every week, you whining ingrate.

This is a flagrantly illiberal regime. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: great, looks like we’re three for three in the foreclosure of human development in a country that was founded on that very proposition and continues to overflow with grievously misallocated wealth. This is a grotesque scandal.

And sexual liberation? Lol jk, you have to ask for explicit consent every fucking step of the way, all the way up to the actual fucking, or risk being accused of rape for making clumsy, artless moves on some club skank. Unless you’re a sexy scumbag, that is; in that case, you’ve got your license to grope a bitch. A decent person is hopeless to navigate this minefield of disorder, dysfunction, and burgeoning dysgenic horror, but an indecent person is in great shape.

Alcohol inevitably fits into this equation most uncomfortably. Americans have had a plainly insane relationship with alcohol for over a century and a half, in addition to our recurrently weird sexual hangups. If we were just privately dysfunctional that would be our unfortunate private problem, but we make public policy on the basis of this dysfunction. Alcohol has been used to catalyze sexual trysts for as long as there has been alcohol, but we’re really fucking touchy about both, so hoo boy, we’ve got trouble. We have an exceptionally louche celebrity culture and more than our share of alcoholics, many of them trying to ape that culture, but we also have a huge cottage industry of rape panic, very little of it focused on actual threats of actual rape. Brock Turner committed a true rape, but he can’t hold a candle to the sexual predation of Daniel Holtzclaw, and rather few of those who got swept up in the Turner thing seem to know the first thing about the Holtzclaw scandal, or to care.

I can’t shake the feeling that much of the outrage over Turner came from women who secretly wanted him to not exactly rape them but at least give them a good hard dominant fucking. Don’t get me wrong; I never thought the guy looked particularly handsome or charming, but I can see how he might, so I can definitely see some room for sexually repressed dipshits to project onto him and use him as their scapegoat for sins of the flesh. He may have had that almost sickly pale white look and been straying dangerously close to that classically sexy Lynn Majors hairstyle, but he was on an elite university swim team, and that’s almost as fuckable as the lax boys who captivated the Hall and Oates Effect bitch what’s-her-name who roomed with Charlotte Simmons. Nah, on second thought, Brock didn’t do that shabby, half-assed high-and-tight thing on top while letting it all hang out in the back, so I guess he had that going for him, but still.

Sexy male nurse Lynn Majors memes are still an improvement to the American sexual discourse. It’s that deadly. All these irresistible liberties are dangled in front of us, just beyond our reach. We’re allowed to indulge in theory, but in practice we lack either the time, the money, or the social skills to take advantage of them, and we’re liable to be punished arbitrarily for some trifling misstep or bit of forwardness while some total asshole gets off Scot free for everything shy of indecent exposure and public lewdness in the same trashy nightclub. Meanwhile women, especially, but maybe also men are supposedly unable to give any consent whatsoever to sex acts when they’re so much as mildly drunk, as if the average clubber goes out to stay sober or gets drunk to stay chaste.

There’s no coherence or principle to this regime. The cultural mainstream of sexual liberation in the United States is still decisively on the side of public loucheness under conditions of moderately diminished capacity; sober, thoughtful consent is for prostitutes, and so is not getting the damn clap every few weeks. No car salesman or military recruiter worth a damn would execute a contract with someone who showed up drunk, but the nightlife scene is deliberately set up to blur the lines between sobriety and intoxication, between reality and fantasy. Hey hey hey!

If we all assumed normal adult competency and ethics, adjusted for intoxication levels, this might be a manageable arrangement, but we’re beset with busybodies who insist that, especially where the fairer sex is concerned, there is no middle ground of competency between stone cold sobriety and Rob Ford muttering himself to sleep in an increasingly slurred and incoherent screed about the Jamaicans while the cocaine inevitably wears off and by the way Mark Saunders is second-in-command of the police force.

There’s always a middle class somewhere not that far off in the background, trying to make the center somehow hold. Or, in the US case, maybe there isn’t one. Let’s maybe not count on things that aren’t fully present and accounted for, how about that.

Cultural liberalism isn’t a slam-dunk in a country as traditionally religiously preoccupied as the United States, but paired with an economic platform that doesn’t beggar workaday people so that the already obscenely successful and wealthy may continue to gorge themselves, it’s somewhat within reach. For one thing, the working class in flyover country bristles at religiously tinged meddling in its sex and domestic lives by intrusive landlords, bosses, social workers, and the like.

So what does NPR do? Why, it flies a crew out to Muncie to brownnose factory owners while they complain about how the applicant pool is nothing but lowdown druggies. Everywhere it fucking goes, House Voice sniffs out the local yuppies and sucks up to them. This is what we get for allowing people who’ve known nothing but success and acclaim to run everything for us.

These assholes can’t imagine that struggling communities in forgotten, out-of-the-way places and the people trying to get by in them deserve some space to find their way and also some help when they ask for it: that is, the opposite of letting the company close the factory down and fire everyone without consequence and then telling the locals to pack up and abandon the lives they’ve struggled to build. They’re fine with “redevelopment” scams for the center-right and “revitalization” scams for the half-assed center-left, but they can’t brook any arrangement that doesn’t have some Boss Hogg or Elmer Gantry or yuppie asswipe wielding the whip hand over the most vulnerable and helpless.

How can I, a Palo Alto native and proud Californian, insist that these forgotten, godforsaken places in the hard interior deserve to exist and endure? Because it’s wrong to arbitrarily tell another person where to live. Because it’s wrong to destroy communities. Affluent people from the coasts and the big cities are free to buy getaways in the interior fairly; they have no right to have the natives run out like so many besieged Indians so that they can later snap up their abandoned property at fire-sale prices. That’s completely fucking wrong. Quiet resentment of losers in flyover country for actually having intact communities instead of loose, unreliable networks scattered across a multinational yuppie archipelago is no excuse. Cowboy the hell up and admit that the losers are clinging for dear life to something worth cherishing.

This is all easier said than done. Look at what the neoliberal ratfuckers did to New Orleans after Katrina, scattering the poor to Baton Rouge and Atlanta and Houston to more smoothly turn the husk of their city, the only place many of them had ever known, into a Cajun-Creole-ass tourist theme park. Look at what’s being done to Detroit, with all the whiteys rolling in from the suburbs while still registering their cars at Mom and Dad’s place back in Grosse Pointe to save on the insurance while amazingly not noticing the existence of black people in a city that’s ninety percent black and Kwesi Millington for Sheriff. Well, I’ll be shocked! Ray Nagin’s Chocolate City grandstanding was obnoxious, but conceiving of Detroit, of all places, as a Whitey Rez is batshit fucking insane and rather pernicious, even at a myopic neighborhood level. Like, do you motherfuckers have any idea of who has been living there? Any idea at all? For fuck’s sake, one of the black Detroit homicide detectives on The First 48 was raised in Hamtramck, which actually was Honkytown for a long time and still has more of a community than a Community.

It’s about time that I did some capitalization. Hell, the cracker contingent in Camden doesn’t erase anyone who doesn’t mind being around some damn drugs. Wasn’t no white people up in that motherfucker before the dope started shipping, or so goes the word on the street, but drugs were what integrated the West End of Sacramento before Brown v. Board of Education, too. #TeshTips: Alcohol is a drug. Why do we have more racial comity and goodwill from nihilistic dipshits who are chasing bad dope sets into the ghetto than from sober, stably employed bougies? Probably because they, unlike the gentrifiers, so cherish their drugs that they don’t mind living in the ghetto (in the ghetto) to get them. Elvis was against drugs when he wasn’t holed up in Graceland taking drugs, but at least the old boy ate well, and if you’re gonna die young, that’s the way to do it.

Drugs, amazingly enough, are a positive reason to move somewhere new. Best chicken in Camden, as the cops say when they figure that it’s futile to keep chasing junkies around the hood and they might as well just drive around until end of watch. Hey, it works for the California Highway Patrol when the lieutenant hasn’t approved an hour and a half straight on the clock at the Truckee Starbucks. I must grudgingly admit that gentrification scams are also a positive reason to move somewhere new. The arts district may be a gaping existential void, and it’d be a horror show to see who all they drove out of the neighborhood and where they drove them, but I generally avoid considering it my problem unless the yuppies are seriously fucking up Sacramento. (Spoiler: they are.)

What’s not a positive reason to leave town is that hostile outside forces shut down the mill and it’s just about impossible to make a living. That’s coercive, and coercion is inimical to liberty. Good luck explaining this to right-libertarians, but it’s true.

How crazy or pie-in-the-sky am I to assert that any legitimate liberal project would strive to eliminate this sort of economic coercion from citizens’ lives? Am I nuts to claim that this is the only way for liberalism to be electorally viable? FDR might not have carried on so about bottle rats at nightclubs when he had secretaries to bang, but this much he would have seconded wholeheartedly.

Let’s flip the script. How many bricks would be shit if the hip urban elements of the yuppie swarm were arbitrarily dispossessed and told that the Economy had moved to South Bend and Lincoln, which by the way had just seen the cost of housing multiply by a factor of five? Those are both cities that I’ve ridden through on the train and mean to visit before long, and Lincoln apparently has a labor market that isn’t in the toilet. The yuppie swarm would still be up in arms, and rightly so. It would be wrong to tell a bunch of people, okay, we just wrecked Brooklyn for shits and giggles, so you have to move to Nebraska at your own expense if you want to stay above water, and tough shit if you’re broke.

It’s just as wrong to tell people who’ve spent their whole lives in Crete or Friend or Youngstown or Flint that they have to pack up and move to one of a handful of overpriced hot markets on the coasts if they want to have a chance of not being completely ruined by hostile forces that are deliberately wrecking their local economies and public infrastructure for the easy profit. If the Democratic Party were actually liberal, there’d be no need to spell any of this out, and likewise if the Republican Party were actually conservative, but thievery isn’t an ideology.

Russian to judgment

Uh, shit, that was uncalled for, but so is the endless Democratic Russia hysteria.

Look, I’ve been to Russia. I spent a full month staying with host families there, first in Moscow and then in St. Petersburg, in the summer of 2002. My personal feelings about Russia are complicated and ambivalent, but they’re personal. They have to do with stuff that has no bearing on Russia’s foreign policy and only accidentally anything to do with its domestic policy. I don’t feel like ruminating over the details, but my worst experience was a run-in with some bad cops, so I have no trouble believing that Russia has serious civil liberties shortcomings. I also walked by at a distance of ten or twenty yards while a guy was getting kicked repeatedly in the guts by two other men on a side street off the Nevsky Prospekt, in a part of St. Petersburg that I otherwise took to be exceptionally prosperous and orderly, and quite a few of the Russians I’ve met over the years, both in country and back in the US, back in the USSA, have had an unnerving nihilistic bearing. I also know full well that I came nowhere close to seeing the worst that Russia has to offer.

The point is that no one has to convince me that Russia can be fucked up. Mine own lying eyes have seen it. Truth be told, few things have made me prouder or more grateful to be an American than personally discovering and then reading further about what a social and political clusterfuck Russia is. In many crucial ways it is a deeply troubled and unhealthy society. I doubt any significant part of it has fully turned the corner in the past fifteen years, and by some measures it regressed greatly after I made it back home (notably, on racist and xenophobic violence). So I’m not averse to legitimate criticism of the old bear den.

Nothing about the moral panic over Russian interference in the 2016 US elections is legitimate or sane. It’s the batshit fucking insane raving of pig-ignorant political extremists. It’s rabies. These deranged shitbirds have poisoned the well so badly that I can hardly trust a bad word about the Kremlin from the BBC, an organization that would hopefully be in a position to hold the Kremlin to some account. NPR is a hopelessly lost cause. I thought things were getting sketchy after they fired Bob Edwards and ramped up the House Voice, but I couldn’t see anything this surreally crazy coming down the pike.

Every time Russia engages in some modest bit of statecraft or spycraft, it magically becomes the world’s premier force of fifth-column subversion and international mind control. It’s unbelievable that we’re hearing about this absolutely insane shit on NPR and not on Coast to Coast AM. The Kremlin hired a few hundred undercover PR flacks to propagandize and troll American voters on social media. It spent a couple hundred grand on Facebook ads. Big fucking deal. We just had an election season that cost multiple billions of dollars and produced a big drop in turnout from 2012, along with a huge undervote in the presidential race, which is usually the main attraction when it’s on the ballot. The Kremlin was an irrelevancy. It was spitting into the wind.

Besides, everything the Kremlin has been accused of doing is done on a much wider and more sustained basis by Western spooks, lobbyists, and fellow-traveling shady pieces of shit. We never hear the hysterical Russia horseshit broadened to criticize AIPAC, the Pentagon bot army, or the multinational corporate leviathans. These outfits are the ones responsible for the serious propaganda. It’s not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a start. The Kremlin hiring underemployed twentagers to engage Americans with their our hearts go out to the Ceausescu family, sad day for Nicolae English can’t hold a candle to this fog machine.

If we’re worried about their ads corrupting our citizens’ minds, uh, Citizens United, fuckwits. Pervasive, unrelenting advertisement campaigns orchestrated by Bernaysian master manipulators are fine as long as they’re being run out of the usual WASP nests (Madison Avenue, K Street, Langley, Silicon Valley) (and, yes, they’re cooler than they once were with the Irish and the Jews and so forth), but Katie bar the fucking door if someone shows up at a Moscow ad agency with a hundred grand to spend on English-language copy. When our old boys do it on a colossal scale, it’s mere advertising; when the damn Red Octobers do it on an almost bashfully modest scale, it’s high treason.

Now we’re hearing feverish calls for Russia Today to be registered and surveilled as a foreign lobbying organization. Gee, with a name like that, you don’t say that it has possible cultural or political ties to Russia. What’s so rich a Yank could barf about this is that RT is open about its presumable ties to the Kremlin (not much of a Union of Right Forces organ, to judge from its coverage), while CNN, the WaPo, and so forth fraudulently pretend not to be crawling with Anglo-American spies, junta-ready generals, ruling politicians, seedy party hacks, and similar trash.

This doesn’t even begin to touch the endless corporate interference, even in NPR and PBS, our federally chartered and funded public broadcasting syndicates. Julie Rovner reports for Kaiser Health News now; no way that’s run by a major for-profit health insurance company and hospital operator that might have a political or policy ax to grind. And no way are my insurance premiums somehow being pooled to fund this highbrow Intelligence for Your Life crap. The mainstream media in the US are little more than payola, product placement, and Pravda-grade regime bulletins these days. NPR and PBS manage to simultaneously suck up every bit of compromising corporate funding they can sniff out, tangle with bumptious, grandstanding Congressmen in annual government funding disputes, AND bother their viewers with grating, guilt-trippy calls for alms several times a year. The PBS NewsHour is brought to you by Tote Bag Nation, some passive-aggressive assholes in Congress, and BNSF: The Little Engine That Could Get Out of the Southwest Chief’s Way But Totally Won’t.

Then we’ve got the cool stories about blackmail, the famous Piss-Trump kompromat. Yeah, nothing reminiscent of the Hastert thing there, or possibly similar to Roy Moore’s political relationship to Alabama’s business elite. The same assholes who got blindsided, or so they say, by J. Denny Dundiddly and Gadsden Lovin’ are sure that the most unabashedly louche president anyone can remember is vulnerable to Kremlin blackmail because he was videotaped getting off while a couple of hookers peed on a hotel bed.

A couple of questions come to mind here. First, who the fuck is Christopher Steele? He sounds like the pen name of a third-rate potboiler spy novelist with a first-rate drinking problem. Does he exist? Did the guy playing him ever work for the clandestine services? Is he a mercenary crisis actor, or is he a glory-whoring fabulist? Nobody has produced the fucking pee tape. Nobody has even produced a forgery purporting to show King Bigly and the Honeypot Rent Harem defiling the sacred one-time marriage bed of his predecessor. Plenty of people have fabricated ridiculous stories to position themselves under the glow of much lesser glories. Maybe the bastard is who he says he is and did what he says he did, but we can’t exactly believe him or anyone associated with him. His supposed employers, Her Majesty’s Spying Limeys, are some of the most incorrigible liars and dissemblers on earth. They’re a bit on the ridiculous side, but the idea that they’d keep some washed-up Oxbridge decoder ring wannabe with an unsubstantiated story about a video showing some whores wetting a bed on their international A Team is strictly for public consumption. One way or another, they’re punking us with this fool.

The Democrats used to lose elections honorably. Nobody really had great hopes for Mondale or Dukakis. Gore was reluctant to challenge the results of a blatantly corrupt election in Florida, by some accounts because he’d been advised that being a sore loser who brought the Brooks Brothers Rioters into the disrepute that they deserved was not the way to secure a feeding spot at the retirement trough. My man Long Face acted like, well, I tried, but shucks. He failed me and a whole lot of other hopeful Democratic voters, but he didn’t dishonor us.

2016 was the first time that the Democrats dredged up a ridiculous foreign scapegoat for their failures. It figures that they did this after trying and failing to force the pack to eat a sickening helping of their dog food on behalf of their raging bitch of a candidate. It figures that they did this after their scandal-plagued disaster of a queen failed to follow up her party coronation with campaign stops in the Midwestern swing states everyone with a lick of sense knew she needed to win, managing to lose the Electoral College in spite of a national popular vote lead in the millions. The Clintons have always had a loose relationship with the truth, but under Bill this relationship was cordial enough. Under Hillary it’s frostier than a February dawn in Vladivostok. He was the irresistibly charming Arkie son of a bitch; she is the repulsively charmless ice queen who’s bitter towards her husband for being a chronic adulterer, bitter towards Mocha Haole for beating her the first time around (“that man,” as Bill is said to refer to him), bitter towards Bernie for nearly beating her even though her operatives tipped the scales, and bitter towards the Donald for having the unexpected amateur’s horse sense to actually pull off a victory as a first-time candidate for public office.

If anyone would blame Kremlin mind control for a political loss, it would be this grotesque hag and her sycophants. The disreputable response is a function of a disreputable candidate and campaign. These losers lose sorely because they’re sore losers. Their form is too disordered to permit normal functioning.

It can’t be that they fucked up an already weak and shitty campaign; it must have been long-distance Russian brainwashing. The voters who got Trump over the top can’t have had rational or coherent reasons for voting for him and against Clinton; they must have been feebleminded enough to fall for a mind control campaign run by junior political operatives engaged in nothing worse than rude internet chatter. America was already great; there’s no way a sensible American could have thought otherwise, no way that a savvy political outsider could have tapped into the formerly unexpressed grievances of an aggrieved public by hammering on a catchy four-word campaign slogan. Russians must have convinced them that the United States had some kind of unresolved class problem, just as the damn pink Soviets were the only reason why anyone thought the midcentury United States had a race or civil rights problem.

Surely it was the Russians who fabricated the sexual assault allegations against George Takei to interfere with his meme warfare, not anyone who was still personally upset with George Takei for having sexually assaulted him. If that horseshit can be proof positive that the victor didn’t legitimately win the presidential election, surely it can be reasonable doubt for a sexual assault case in the court of public opinion.

Joe McCarthy sincerely regarded the Soviet Union as a menace to his country, not to his party or his career. That’s the difference between honest paranoia and the sorest losers ever endlessly grinding a political ax. These shitheads don’t care who or what they destroy as long as they either come out on top or, barring that, find a way to take cheap revenge on their proliferating enemies.

Fuck the Democratic Party. It has to either be reclaimed by decent people or allowed to convulse its way to its belated death. I can’t stand popcorn, but if I can’t vote it back from its current eighth circle of hell land of make-believe, I’ll be glad to grab a cup of coffee and maybe some hash browns and pull up a chair.

The Further Adventures of the Dick Strict Attorney

When the sex pest allegations against Roy Moore really started sounding credible, I expected him to scurry away like a little rat within a day or two. There were too many women going on the record with serious allegations indicating a pattern of serious sexual misconduct to write the scandal off as a dirty political trick. The things Moore was accused of having done to young women, in his capacity as a sitting county prosecutor, no less, went directly against his ostentatious public religious morality, which, as extreme or crazy as it could be, had looked sincere enough. National Republican leaders who normally would want nothing to do with a Democratic colleague from the Alabama delegation to the United States Senate lined up on short order to declare their scandal at what Moore was accused of having done, asked him to step aside if there was any truth to the allegations, and began working on plans for a write-in campaign. Beyond mere politics, the cultural environment looked newly inhospitable to someone in Moore’s position: a wave of powerful men, most of them famous, had just had their careers quickly and publicly go down in flames over mostly decades-old allegations of sexual harassment or assault.

It turns out that Moore is the one guy caught in this delayed-action Chris Hansen trap who’s arrogant enough to maintain his frame and go down swinging. Maybe this shouldn’t be too surprising after his notorious tenacity on the Alabama Supreme Court, but it surprised me. What he’s doing takes a truly special level of bravado. It takes a truly special combination of chutzpah, confidence, and acting skill. Moore looks a bit rattled from time to time, but most of the time he looks self-righteously angry at the same secular elites he’s been accusing of campaigning to destroy Alabama’s cherished Southern Christian culture for his entire career. Three or four times already I’ve heard some news bulletin about the Moore scandal and expected him to finally tear up and admit that he did some folks wrong, only to see that, no shit, the son of a bitch once again doubled the hell down.

It’s an amazing episode. I get plenty jaded and cynical about American politics as it has come to be practiced, I’m less and less easily shocked by extreme hypocrisy and sleaze, but the Moore thing is something else. The revelations (heh) that he got frisky with uncomfortable young women half his age are the least of it, even though I never expected Roy Moore, of all people, to get caught with his pants down. The really crazy part is the guy’s reaction. The fights that he picked with the federal judiciary over his beloved courthouse religion and then over same-sex marriage weren’t personal crises; he was acting fully in accordance with his own sworn principles. This new Lolita stuff is a personal crisis, but damned if he isn’t steaming full David Farragut straight into the firestorm all the same.

No white flag, he will go down with this ship. Dido has nothing on this fucker. *Leon Bridges, back on the bridge* Good. Stay on your own ship, boss.

At a strictly personal level, Moore’s confident defiance is more dignified than the shambolic stories of one Hollywood rat after another scurrying off to Cannes or Sedona or who the fuck knows where for “intensive” sex “counseling” (one out of three is a start), and in circumstances like these a man’s man like Roy Moore inevitably carries himself better than George “Russia Did It” Takei. No way around it, these are Darwinian limbic exercises, and Moore is just the reptile to hiss and fight his way out of a good hard bind.

But Moore is no more a private man than any of the past month’s other newly exposed sexual predators. As a general public matter, the way Moore has been reacting to the allegations is no less disgusting than the stances taken by any of his colleagues in perv, and for being so defiant and demagogic as a candidate for the United States Senate he is uniquely dangerous to his nation. A person who doesn’t follow pop culture or celebrity gossip might be completely disinterested in the existence of Kevin Spacey or Harvey Weinstein. Any American who follows our national politics will inevitably be confronted with the rude, gross truth that for God’s sake this handsy godbothering piece of shit in tighty whities may actually be elected to the United States Senate, to make law and policy for us all.

Roy Moore has cultivated, flourished in, and brought out the very worst of the hard right wing. He’s reinvigorated a bunch of deeply sick motherfuckers. He’s got all these people who talk a loud game about conservatism and law and order (specifically SVU, am I right) insisting that a sitting county prosecutor going around serially pestering the local high school girls for easy action was in fact nothing more than a Southern gentleman looking to go a-courtin’ to put an end to his thirty-something bachelorhood. He did eventually manage to take a young woman’s hand in marriage as a result of this ongoing effort, but that was practically a coincidence. Seriously dating women who were young enough to be his daughter wasn’t why he got banned from the fucking mall. Five-O wasn’t cultivating Paul Blart as a permanent informant because the DA had a mildly scandalous private romantic life. Moore was banned from the mall for repeatedly harassing strangers. That isn’t an acceptable thing to do under desexualized auspices to a legal adult. There are certain things that one just doesn’t do if one wants to remain welcome at the mall, like incorrigibly harassing other customers against their obvious wishes to be left alone.

It wasn’t just a weirdo being weird after hours, either. Moore implicitly threatened to perjure himself against at least one of his victims in his capacity as a court officer if she dared press charges against him. Who’re they gonna believe: the Deputy District Attorney or a child? The sexual liberty for me but not for thee guy selectively regarded high school girls as old enough to consent to his sexual advances but also too young to be believed in a court of law if they dared refuse their consent, i.e., too young for civil rights.

Why on earth shouldn’t we utter his name in the same breath as Daniel Holtzclaw’s? They used exactly the same playbook to prey upon and intimidate the vulnerable.

Then there was the rest of the Etowah County public safety and legal community, the cops, prosecutors, judges, social workers, clerks, and so forth who twiddled their thumbs for thirty years while a man they either suspected or outright knew to be a raging creep rose to the highest judicial office in their state. It was only after national news outlets based a thousand miles away did the legwork, as outsiders, to confirm allegations against Roy Moore that these good old boys and girls back home finally admitted that, yeah, we kinda knew the fella was a bit off.

Great timing, honkeys. They could have done all sorts of things to put an end to Moore’s perverted behavior around Gadsden or sabotage his career. What they actually did about him, as far as I’ve heard, was jack shit. Did some dirty cop with an aggrieved sense of right and wrong frame him for some penny-ante drug crime just to make him squirm and shrink away in disgrace? Of course not. Did anyone in power give him 48 hours to leave town or be exposed? Nope. Did anyone in a position of authority publicly blow the whistle on him? Hell no. Did anyone privately complain to the Alabama Bar Association about Moore’s moral turpitude and ask it to investigate his fitness for membership? Possibly; an ethical complaint, especially an unsubstantiated one, might not be publicly divulged; but unlikely. A security guard at the mall told a reporter that a Gadsden police officer wouldn’t tell him why he wanted to be called right away if Moore showed up again, just that he’d “take care of him.”

This wasn’t mere discretion. It was a systematic coverup of a powerful man’s misdeeds by a town full of chickenshit officials. They knew that what Moore was doing was wrong and scandalous; that’s why they kept mum. This shit was kept hush-hush for three to four decades–roughly my entire life–until the Washington Post and the New Yorker finally aired Gadsden’s dirty laundry because its most famous native son was on the verge of winning a Senate seat that might determine the balance of federal power.

If we’re to conclude anything about small-town values from this political history, it’s that they come straight out of hell and should be eradicated. The rural South has a reputation for being a hotbed of gossip, and yet when Roy Moore was imposing himself on unwilling young women under color of his authority as a prosecutor, the grapevine mysteriously went silent for two full generations, until the Yankee press showed up during a statewide election of national importance to rake the town muck.

This is fucking disgraceful, a far worse scandal than the DA being a local wannabe teenybopper sex pest. I realize that gossip can be a crude tool of spite, and I’ve personally benefited greatly from gossip items about me going cold because the second or third degrees of separation from the source couldn’t be bothered to give a shit. But Roy Moore wasn’t some common adulterer or drunk. He was abusing his office to facilitate and cover up serial sexual assault against underage girls. He was getting himself banned from the mall, and then sneaking back in when security wasn’t looking, as a thirty-something court officer in the same fucking county. It isn’t gossip to go to the State Attorney General’s office or the State Police and say, look, I don’t like doing this, but I’m really concerned that Mr. Moore is committing rape.

Scum-of-the-earth outlets like Chateau Heartiste celebrate Roy Moore for being a sexual predator because they’re the scum of the earth. It’s unfortunate but predictable that predatory authoritarian evil is a latent element of the human condition that sometimes asserts itself in ugly ways. The internet harbors everything under the sun, not all of it wholesome. What’s more troubling from an American political perspective is that we have entire states, in this case Alabama, acting as regional reservoirs of privileged depravity and wholesale dysfunctional behavior enabling it. The owners and managers of malls network with one another across county lines. One might expect the commercial real estate magnates in Gadsden to pass the word about Moore to their colleagues in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville, and so on. They have an obvious interest in not allowing a good old boy to harass teenage girls on their property.

Or so one would think. The Southern Country Club set has a reputation, poorly appreciated in the North, for being scandalized by seedy good old boy antics, but there’s a fair amount of overlap between the two groups. In rural areas especially they can form a single unified overclass. It’s conceivable that Moore wasn’t bad enough for business in a town like Gadsden to be worth challenging. It might have been different if his teen fancying had driven away interstate or international engineering talent from, say, Mobile or Huntsville. Mind you, I’m not arguing that the Country Club snots have any sort of moral compass or spine, just that they won’t countenance bullshit that threatens the bottom line (bathroom bill grandstanding driving convention business away from Charlotte and Raleigh, to take a prominent example), and that, depending on local group dynamics, they may get terminally fed up with good ol’ boy horseshit for what are basically aesthetic reasons and decide to clean house.

This is where Alabama’s economic backwardness comes into play. North Carolina and Georgia went through major economic transformations starting in the mid-twentieth century that involved huge influxes of newcomers, diluting their old-line white electorates. One fascinating explanation I’ve seen for Alabama getting stuck in ye olden Bull Connor times is that Atlanta got the big Southern hub airport, not Birmingham. That is, Delta Airlines was in a position to lift one Southern state out of the dark ages, and it chose Georgia. This is something of an oversimplification, but it makes sense. Not long before its merger into Delta, Northwest ineptly tried to set up a small hub at Memphis (Mississippi’s biggest airport, to be honest), where FedEx was already successfully operating a cargo superhub. American ran a half-assed hub at Raleigh-Durham for a decade or two, briefly along with a much shorter-lived hub at Nashville, before folding the lion’s share of its operations in the Mid-South into the Charlotte hub that it had taken over from US Airways. (AA continues to serve Florida Man surprisingly well out of Miami, but we’re focusing on the Upper 47 here.)

Southern partisans don’t much care to hear that sort of argument from a Damn Yankee. I’d defer to them if I could be convinced that I’ve been arguing out of prejudice or bad faith, but it’s disingenuous authoritarian shitbirds like Roy Moore and his defenders who are poisoning this well, and they’re poisoning it for our entire nation. I’m not here to denigrate the folkways of Appalachian coal miners or Cajun shrimpers. My paternal grandmother was born in rural Alabama, about a third of the way from Gadsden to Atlanta, as it turns out, and raised from the age of eight onwards in rural Northeast Kansas at a time when Topeka was still legally segregated. This was the side of the family that lost its load of watermelon to high water, not hell. I’ve known quite a few Southerners who have had reasonable objections to the way they’ve been smeared with a broad brush by prejudiced Northerners.

For a proud lifelong Yankee, then, I’m awfully protective of the good names of Southerners and the South. I find it disreputable and embarrassing for other Northerners to scapegoat an entire sector of our country based on their most ignorant prejudices in the interest of failing to examine their own racial and class bigotries.

Roy Moore doesn’t represent the decent South. He represents the indecent South. I’m a Yankee, but I can tell the fucking difference. That man lives to subjugate other Southerners: the black, the poor, the non-Christian, the non-evangelical. That’s blatantly obvious by now. He picked up a minor outside a fucking child custody hearing, for crying out loud, and now that he’s been exposed as a predator he’s got dipshits earnestly comparing him to Joseph, Stepfather of God.

How hard is it to imagine that the Alabamans who exploit this predatory privilege do so at the expense of other Alabamans? It was local girls that Roy Moore regarded as competent adults when he felt being his supremely gentlemanly underwear-clad self with them and incompetent children the moment they threatened to blow the whistle on his predatory behavior. The Alabama Constitution currently disenfranchises thirty percent of its black citizenry by barring ex-convicts from voting, but don’t think for a second that the local fuzz never locks up a cracker.

The Roy Moore dirty thirties scandal is showing once again that Alabama is an unreconstructed slave state. It’s run by a rogue’s gallery of slavers, holy roller nutjobs with closets full of sexual skeletons, and other equally dangerous thugs. A free citizenry has no obligation to tolerate anything of the sort in its own country, let alone to speak kindly of it.

Imagine some dipshit insisting that Diddlin’ Dennis is the epitome of Midwestern values, the Flower of the Heartland. That would be fucking ridiculous. Imagine assertions that Our Lord’s Servant Gerald is truly one of the great and sacrosanct Pennsylvanians. I don’t have to imagine such veneration of Our Lord Joseph, since I was around for it. It was vile, of course. I’d already heard plenty of bad things about Penn State in general from the inside, but the JoePa worship was a special evil. This is why I approved of the otherwise bumptious dipshit buddy of the Insurance Schmuck, the one who wrote into the alumni magazine with the blather about Nisbet and Durden being great Dickinsonians, when he heard “Sweet Caroline” playing on the loudspeakers at the Homecoming football game and told us, “They like to play this one at Penn State, in honor of Jerry and Joe.”

Turning to Roy Moore as a defender of local values in the face of his exposure as a serial sexual predator is disreputable and scandalous. That’s all there fucking is to it. Only a cult would vomit up a man of his rotten character as an indispensable paragon of Christian virtue. The Deep South would have been unable to maintain chattel slavery for centuries and Jim Crow for most of another century had it not been run as a totalitarian cult. One of the treasured cult leaders has gotten caught up in a particularly sordid and hypocritical sex scandal, but it’s axiomatic that he dindu nuffin, because crime, you see, that’s for the colored folk and the white trash, and so several decades’ worth of compulsory try-hard cultural conservatism evaporates overnight, replaced by an orgy of postmodernist nihilism.

The US Senate has its own closet full of skeletons, but this clusterfuck out of Alabama is serious enough that, should Roy Moore actually pull it out and win the election, the worthiest thing it could do would be to refuse to seat him. Send his ass back to Alabammy, back to the arms of his dear old mammy, etc. Moore has already fucked up badly enough that Republican kingmakers are scheming to kick their old boy the Third Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions (well now, WHY do I keep thinking of him in that fashion?) back down to his very recent spot in the Senate by drafting him as their endorsed write-in candidate next month. That smirking Keebler-looking piece of shit shouldn’t be anywhere near the federal government, but demoting him back to the August Body would be an improvement over the wretched scandal of allowing him to serve as the Attorney General, and sending Roy Moore back home like a dirtbag Roland Burris would be better than seating him.

This is why we’re singin’ Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth. Mercy, that again! I know that Southerners still admire FDR for rural electrification, not urban electrification, so I have no idea what got into me. The TVA never was battery-powered, so I have no idea why I keep seeing Roy Moore throwing the bench at little Jefferson’s elf house, either. Or why I keep thinking that Northside Juice and the Shady Blues are THE defense against the Asian carp getting into the Great Lakes.

Nah, I know exactly why: it’s because fishing, even if it’s really just Monty Robinson getting piss-ass drunk and falling out of the Jeep into the river, is such a relief from politics. In this case, it’s also a great opportunity to remind a downhome creep about options for intervention from the North, whose drunks have historically also included Ulysses S. Grant.