Hold your piece and be thot a fool, or open your mouth and remove all doubt

Donny Fingers returned to the White House from his wingnut powwow in Tulsa looking humiliated and whipped: to use his parlance, like a dog. For once, the hysterical liberal hive mind overestimated him, as he did himself. Trump bragged that he would have overflow crowds spilling out of the revival into the streets. When he got there, a handful of stragglers were milling about on the sidewalks in front of a 19,000-seat venue accommodating his total audience of 6,000.

Donald Trump’s thin skin and ill cheer make for a miserable, utterly unenviable way to live. It’s far from crazy to suspect ourselves supporting characters in his indefinite purgatorial journey; we’re here to suffer through that miserable son of a bitch’s life as spectators, too, if we’re so masochistic as to remain engaged.

The Donald is exceptionally prone to extreme narcissistic injuries. His Juneteenth Weekend in Tulsa was one for the record books. His advisors backed off their original plan to hold the rally on Juneteenth proper, celebrating Tulsa Massacre Month just down the street from Greenwood on the exact anniversary of the formal, explicit abolition of chattel slavery throughout the land. This was a humiliation of its own: they meant to own the libs, but instead, as is rarely but sometimes the case in Post-Soviet America, the libs owned THEM!

Then the crowd didn’t show. The Tik-Tok K-Pop Zoomer Crew’s buy-and-hold troll job on the ticketing was apparently superfluous. The campaign had liberally oversold the venue, on the plan to accommodate overflow out front, outside the big tent but still close enough to piss out, not in. They would have been fine with 15,000 no-shows or whatever, since they could have just seated the next 15,000 ticketholders. The problem, of course, that this assumed a large overflow crowd in excess of ticket sales. Instead, everyone got a seat.

Oops.

There are two credible explanations for Trump’s humiliation in Tulsa, and both of them make him look bad. The first is that he has lost political popularity with his base on account of the Rona, the economy, and whatever else intersects with these rather unpleasant national experiences. The second is that he was never in fact popular with his rally audiences as a political leader or elected official. Jacob Bacharach argues that hysterical liberals overestimate Trump’s political appeal to his base and underestimate his appeal as a pure entertainer. He suggests that his rally groupies are “more perspicacious” than the shitlib shriekers for approaching him as a figure of fun, not substance.

The latter explanation, that Trump’s base is heavy on live entertainment viewers enjoying a frivolous spectacle that happens to take place under the auspices of the presidency, tracks with the flop in Tulsa. Plenty of provincial and suburban elites have turned into death-drive assholes about masks. However many of these cases are driving infection rates through the roof for absolutely no redeeming reason, only about 6,000 of them showed for the Juneteenth Weekend festivities. The rally was held on a summer weekend in a regional travel market easily encompassing Oklahoma City, Wichita, Kansas City, Little Rock, and Dallas. These are places full of affluent travelers who think nothing of driving all day or all night each way on a quick trip out of town. The roadtrippers in these places are heavily in favor of Trump. RVers nationwide skew toward Trump. He has rally groupies who enthusiastically travel across the country to see him live, just like Phish.

The limiting factor in Tulsa wasn’t distance. It wasn’t expense; his followers have more money than they let on, because poor cracker cosplay is a great way to own the libs. It wasn’t crowding during a pandemic, either. The same demographic was itching to get back to crowded brick-and-mortar church services for months. It flooded Northern Wisconsin over Memorial Day, and it floods Applebee’s everyday. When they say that they want “America” to “get back to work,” they mean their own employees. They’ll gladly travel off the avails of vulnerable neighbors they’ve moved heaven and earth to banish from the unemployment rolls the moment their old gigs at $2.13 plus tips are listed as job vacancies again.

If they took Trump’s obnoxious rallies seriously, they’d have been there. Six thousand and change of them did, and were.

That’s our measure of how many Americans are genuinely gung ho about their Oaf of Office’s stadium revivals. It’s a weak showing. Of all the events they could, and often do, risk their own health and lives to attend, from Lakewood Church to the Fourth of July at the Sandbar to yelling at Red Robin waitresses and docking their tips, Trump’s rallies come in somewhere around dead last. They’ll risk their own health and lives, their loved ones’, and public health–you know, the rest of us–but not so much for this particular horseshit.

Certainly, not everybody who’s interested in attending a rally turns out. The thing is, attendance is down so hard this time that it would have to be multiplied by a factor of well over a hundred to rival the electorate of Oklahoma alone. This is extremely weak enthusiasm. Shit, Don, what do you suppose you’ll do when they all say goodbye? Maybe there’ll be some free bleacher space in the shed next time Pablo Cruise hits the Expo.

This dude’s an A-List headliner and he couldn’t fill a standard basketball arena. What is this? A home game at the Astrodome? This isn’t the stuff of a serious, powerful political movement. Nobody in his corner has enough dedication to show up, or even interest. Worse, for Trump, the other side has overflowing passion, as shown time and time again in the ongoing protests against police brutality. With the plague on, Trump’s people aren’t wasting any of their nine lives on him. They’re standing him up to go to pool parties at shitty resorts in the Ozarks.

I guess that stings. Thank God I’m too functional to know personally.

A Joe Biden rally would obviously be an even worse flop. It doesn’t matter. They’re keeping him mostly away from the cameras and tinkering with his sleep and drug regimen for his rare appearances. As they say about funny uncles, it’s all relatives. Uncle Joe’s the one who’s been oddly quiet lately. He needs rest. We need him to wield supreme launch authority over the world’s largest nuclear missile fleet and draw a clock.

This is who we’re turning to as our less sclerotic, less derelict, more competent choice to govern our empire: a guy who, on the rare occasions his handlers walk him out, has roughly even odds of being able to complete a sentence. If he were your father or grandfather he’d already be in a home. But all we’re talking about here is the election of our next head of state and government, not your niece’s fear that Gramps will take out a reverse mortgage on his house to pay the advance on his Nigerian inheritance, or pay double the MSRP for a power chair he saw on TV.

All Gropey Joe is doing is being coy about his own immorality and incapacitation. It looks like this may be enough come November, because truly this is an optimistic, forward-looking, vigorous, confident nation.

Eatin’ good in the neighborhood

We’ve got mail:

Good afternoon tenants,

Lately we have noticed that people have been leaving food items by the dumpster, and now starting on top of the mail box. We ask that you please stop doing that, as this is adding to the current issues we are having with the homeless coming into the property. For those that may not be aware, we have had recent break-ins into cars as well as items going missing from the property.

I understand you may be doing this to help the ones in need during these difficult times, however if you would like to donate food, clothing items, etc., please take it to the local food bank/charities.

Thank you for your understanding.

I can’t object. I really can’t. To any of it: the letter, the food by the dumpster. The onsite manager who e-mailed us this letter is wonderful. She’s in a bad spot, we’re in a bad spot as her tenants, the neighborhood homeless are in a terrible spot, and one of our city councilors used to go around stealing gear from encampments on vigilante missions back when he was a cop. He bragged about it at a social services working group meeting. He was a Santa Rosa Police Department liaison. Multiple committee members filed official complaints under their own names. Nothing happened.

It doesn’t take much attention to look at the city council during meetings and guess that Ernesto Olivares is the cop. His strain of bumbaiting bourgeois supremacy runs deep around here. He’s far from the worst cop around here, by the way. The SRPD’s rank and file supposedly can’t stand the Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies. The assistant district attorneys are so insane that judges tell them to shut up right now in camera.

Last fall we had the shit show on the Joe Rodota Trail. A veterinarian’s wife told me that the trail was an absolute clusterfuck, totally out of control. /Borat Voice/ My part-time wife told me that it was a self-governing community, with zoning expertly triaged by need and social function. California has Pervert’s Flat in rural Antioch for the Megan’s Law cases; Santa Rosa has the hills above Bennett Valley.

The vet and his wife weren’t the most obnoxious Americans I met in New Zealand. The expat Americans working in the service sector were great. I didn’t encounter any American shitheads in Australia. I don’t remember encountering Americans at all. The security guy at the Hobart Airport, an absolute sweetheart who hugged my mom after she told him that he and his colleagues were nicer than their American counterparts, assumed we were flying home to Adelaide. When my mom described where she and my dad live in the Adirondacks, his eyes lit up. “Noooice!”

Depending. I’m glad my mom came down with the Dread Ailment or whatever she caught in New Zealand, not back home in the States. Yes, that one. She suspects she had it months before the Wuhan lockdown, let alone the Kiwi lockdown. There’s a mayor in New Jersey who thinks he caught it around the same time, although around town, not around Grammers. There were no horseshit marketeering or HR signs on the hospital campuses in Invercargill and Queenstown. My mom received excellent care at Southland and at Lakes District. Both hospitals were modest but reassuring inside. The outdoor energy at Southland was exactly what I needed. My mom loved watching the Air New Zealand A320s take off while she sat in the day room on the ward at Lakes. She likes busy Maori liveries much more than I do.

The veterinarian fumed to us about the wretchedness of Invercargill. I liked the town all right when my dad and I got there. I’m absolutely serious that Southland Hospital was my favorite part. There’s no point to traveling so far afield and not getting a passing idea of what the hell is actually up in the host communities. I guess I’m in the travelers’ minority on that one fml, but shit, doc, Fat Cracka’s got room for another mince pie, in the suitcase if need be.

The vet told us he was the highest rated in the county. I looked him up a few months later, and I think I identified him, although I’m not pawsitive. Good Lord there’s something wrong with me. We met him and his wife at dinner. The guy who’d built the house back in the Gilded Age got into Parliament, got into debt, and fatally shot himself in his office in Wellington. One of our servers that night chuckled when I told him that I’d had classmates fly over to study a broad–as /Borat Voice/ my part-time wife says, “They’re fine from the neck down”–and return stateside complaining about not being able to afford heat for their flats; students are always having trouble getting by, he said. In retrospect, I think I heard the heat quota story from a tradcon chick who’d studied in Dublin. Most of the complaints I heard about foreign bathrooms started, verbatim, “One time when I was in England, and I had to take a shit….”

I would rather have heard these stories from the chick who went to Dublin, but this is not a world that caters to our preferences. We aren’t all veterinarians.

A full week in Queenstown more than convinced me that New Zealand has a tourism problem. I guess it doesn’t so much this year lol, but strange times live through us as much as we live through them. I do, however, think I paid enough attention on our way through drive-through country and on my solo excursions into the working parts of Adelaide and Christchurch to accurately assess some of the shit that any country harboring it tries to sweep behind the curtains, and the impressive thing is that none of it looked really bad. The equivalents in the US are terrible. If I get back to Australia–not ruling it in, but not ruling it out–I’m planning to visit Macquarie Fields. I looked at some satellite and street view images of it, and I couldn’t believe that that, of all neighborhoods, was rumored to be one of the roughest parts of Sydney. It’s like going to 20th and Clement and being told, authoritatively, this is the worst corner in San Francisco.

I saw a handful of homeless in Sydney and I think Adelaide. On equivalent transects of Los Angeles or Sacramento I’d have seen dozens, probably hundreds. I haven’t done a deep or broad survey of Australian housing, but from what I’ve read and seen I get the feeling that there is nothing along the lines of Skid Row or the Tenderloin or Near North Sacramento in the whole country. The only city where I’d expect it is Darwin, and I’ve heard about extreme squalor and poverty in the deep outback, overwhelmingly in Aboriginal communities, but we’ve got the Rez, the Ozarks, the deep Appalachians, the Black Belt. Joe Schillaci will see you on the scene of that 31 in the Pork-n-Beans.

This really is a shithole country. What other conclusion is hanging around for us? What are we supposed to make of Australia’s most dire social problems being concentrated in a territory whose population rivals those of Buffalo and Reno? Australia’s superannuation scheme is a racket, but Statewide Super had free wi-fi in Glenelg when I went out on the tram. I recall getting straight on, with no commercial, and there was definitely no e-mail tracking like the DFW does for passengers who are already paying facility fees through their airfare.

Little things like that, one after another, array themselves to paint a damning picture. We have 24/7 staffing at more of our rural gas stations, but they have a working medical system. These probably aren’t mutually exclusive, this probably isn’t a case of one or the other, no mix-and-match, but we shouldn’t have to deliberate and weigh the tradeoffs. We should be able to come right out and choose.

Guess we chose wrong. Fuck.

Back home we have so, so many places where we get assaulted by the squalor and the dysfunction every time we step outside. We can’t keep it out of the fanciest recreation districts in our cities. The passenger rail terminals in Los Angeles and Chicago officially close down for a few hours overnight, for no credible reason but to ward off the homeless. Rent-a-cops make the rounds at LA Union Station every night to do the bums’ rush. As of a year or two ago the Portland Greyhound terminal had regular DAYTIME closure hours. A quick look outside shows why: skid row. It spreads: Pioneer Square; Pershing Square; Venice and Santa Monica; just about everywhere else in the Los Angeles Basin; all through and around the Gaslamp Quarter and the Convention Center; all over San Francisco; long stretches of El Camino; Midtown Sacramento and downtown Reno; across otherwise well-maintained parts of downtown Seattle like so much maritime moss, a dude lying face-down in the grass on a freeway embankment in his underwear on a near-freezing winter morning, 911 refusing to dispatch an ambulance because the caller reports that he’s breathing.

How many billions of dollars do we have to spend on cops and spooks and naval combat vessels that dent and fighter jets that dissolve in the rain and serial deathtraps like the Osprey whose crews take flight only because they’d be court-martialed otherwise, before we get our shit together on services that we actually need to survive as a society? We’re operating at a level on Maslow’s hierarchy below normal, healthy function and way below prosperity. What does it take to walk out onto the streets from the highrise hotels in the San Francisco Financial District or downtown LA or San Diego, or out of the investment banking towers of Lower Manhattan into the visibly disintegrating subways, and come away unshaken in the assumption that the governments responsible lavish too little on private redevelopment hustlers and too much on social services and public works? What the hell are we using? Grey Goose? Freebase? Xanax? Build-your-own?

The moneyed sorts who do business and leisure in our fancy neighborhoods are short on empaths and long on psychopaths–they are not, regardless of their protestations, liberal–but it’s incomprehensible how they don’t walk through the local hood and straight away see serious problems demanding serious solutions. Most of them aren’t even cutting off the nose to spite the face. They’re in our dynamic, forward-thinking cities with two thirds of the GDP precisely because they want to make bank and live well or cash in what some of what they’ve already amassed to live well. These are, after all, people who have done more than their share of international travel.

It’s bizarre that they don’t expect the same public goods and services that Europeans, Japanese, urban Chinese, and so forth take for granted and demand when not granted: water fountains; well-maintained public restrooms that encourage users to clean up after themselves and have janitors on call in case they don’t; not having to dodge films of piss and piles of shit on the sidewalk left by the desperate, the mentally ill, and the homeless; not having street people lying around semiresponsive and stewing in two weeks’ worth of bodily filth because they have nowhere decent to go; the ability to walk into an intact, fully functioning rapid transit station and promptly board a tolerably clean train that works. It’s bizarre, for that matter, that the horseshit security theater of the TSA and its contractors hasn’t come under sustained and withering attack from travelers who have cleared security at domestic airport terminals in Australia and not gotten into crashes on Qantas. Airport stories out of Mexico include employee cadences of “Please/ do not/ take off/ your shoes.”

Nothing here fucking works. What’s crazy is that things don’t work in cities teeming with affluent professionals whose business takes them to places like Frankfurt, London, and Hong Kong. These same cities teem with foreigners from every corner of the world, many of them from highly developed and well-run cities abroad. It’s surreal to imagine what it must be like to relocate from inner-city Sydney or Adelaide, for example, as an occasional to regular train rider, and to arrive in Manhattan, the nerve center of the international financial system, the biggest and proudest city in the global imperial center, on a filthy, ramshackle train serving a subway station with water pouring in through a gash in the wall.

Let’s assume, again, that the Millennial Business Success Spawn are looking to get rich, the tourists to luxuriate, and the conventioneers to get rich or learn things or hang out. They’re all looking, now or later or both, for a good quality of life. Reconcile this with decades of intensifying threats to the personal safety and welfare of the general public, threats now aggressively spreading into neighborhoods frequented or inhabited by the rich and the powerful. The “revitalization” campaigns proceed apace, in Hudson Yards, Pilsen, the SoMa, the outskirts of the USC campus, and so forth, but everything around them is falling apart.

Deluxe condominiums are sold and occupied in a downtown tower that is somehow, despite one of the most process-oriented city governments on earth and a host state historically home to some of the world’s leading engineering brain trusts, listing from its foundation on up with the floors very noticeably off-level. A new bridge span, a seven- or ten-minute drive away in light traffic, is built with overseas steel that the highway department is concerned has not passed inspection. These edifices are located in a world-renowned earthquake zone.

A few hours away by plane, the mayor for some damn reason, probably soft ethnic cleansing, or maybe just cruelty, arbitrarily closed dozens of neighborhood schools in ways that forced minors to cross through rival gang territory twice a day. In city after city, millions of dollars gush into the guard labor apparatus, billions in the national aggregate, to issue citations and effect bench warrant arrests over shit like $2.75 fare jumps. The NYPD excels at this. It has the same jurisdiction as the elected governments that tried to give Jeff Bezos hundreds of millions of dollars in a single consolidated package to build a megaoffice that would turn the already snarled streets fubar, until their constituents made it clear that the incumbents pushing that crap would have to find new jobs, or hobbies, if they succeeded.

They always could have talked to Matt Lauer.

The retention of violently juiced-up cops who ride around poor minority neighborhoods jumping out of vans and throwing groups of peaceable teenagers up against the nearest wall makes some sense, although not much, in the context of Greek Life business elites who abuse cocaine. It’s fairly common for the same aspiring masters of the universe never to have lived in the real world of laundromats, slumlords, crosstown bus lines through the ghetto, and sometimes even DIY grocery shopping and home laundry. From where you’re sitting right now, there’s sure to be an above above the above.

There’s no reason that sheltered rich assholes with reactionary views they usually keep to themselves or their close friends for business reasons–that’s actually asking quite a bit, as leaks from many of our elite circles regularly show–take the cops for their loyal buddies or mercenaries. American cops get away with shit that neighborhood crew bosses would bring to an immediate stop in the Crips, the Bloods, or the Latin prison gangs, but it’s been said before: lighter shade of blue, no cross, no shield. Norm Stamper, I think it was, divided American police misconduct into three main spheres: corruption, brutality, and incompetence. They’re all wicked valid, Mak; that’s why your awe stayeff sayagent. Between the NOPD’s who dat throw your ass on the floor in a jumble for dissing the jambalaya private details, the Dirty Thirty, the jumpout squads, the Ramparts snort-n-sell ring, Homan Square, the other Mark with the glove on the Westside and without it on 77th Street, Ferguson, the DEA’s cash grab crews, HSI’s inconsistent policies on sex with suspected trafficking victims, Daniel Holtzclaw’s personal off-duty policies, and the widespread anabolic steroid use on police forces across the country, nobody should trust the police a second longer than the nearest cops appear to be holding it together in a non-criminal capacity.

This list is not exhaustive. I omitted other cops.

It’s usually feasible for a portion of a society to live off the avails of its neighbors’ labor. We’re much closer to a scenario in which everybody’s trying to rob, extort, blackmail, bribe, or defraud everybody else for a living. Hilariously, this is why Olivia Jade Gianulli’s parents had to pay Rick Singer to bribe USC. Their daughter, already a socioeconomically successful and connected celebrity, was really looking forward to, like, partying and going to games. Kid: the only reason they’ll try to bar the door against you is because you’re the other OJ. This is the College of Montepuliafito, girl. Chill.

If we look at the top, hardly a soul is doing a thing that’s worthwhile, and few are doing anything interesting. Jeff Bezos is a monster who smiles while his warehouse grunts soil their adult diapers and pee in bottles next to parades of customer packages. Elon Musk is an acutely coked-up megalomaniac who bribed and bullied his way into positions as a named founder and flips his shit at anybody who expresses or shows expertise exceeding his own in any field, notably including the British expatriate caver he called a pedophile for warning that his submarine wouldn’t work to rescue that group of boys and their chaperones from a Thai cave that he knew better than anybody else. The fuck are the Kardashians doing? Dad was a lawyer, at least. Another connection to the Original Juice: how bow dah. Bruce Jenner? Excuse me, Caitlyn? I mean, Brutlin? There are some extremely weird and unhealthy family dynamics in that whole deal.

I often ponder what it means that the Amish are cutting hay, Japanese smallholders with quarter-acre plots in the path of the second runway at Narita are growing rice by hand when they aren’t going at the riot police with pitchforks, Chinese researchers are doing advanced biotherapeutics research (and, uh, chuman work with that Yankee creep), the Germans and the Swiss are still machining ultraprecision gears and measuring devices and shit, and a whole lot of us are over here crashing international financial markets, swindling the poor and the middling out of their houses, and lounging around with our thumbs up our asses while we venerate that troupe of attention-whoring freaks. Or Musk or Bezos or any of our other famous crooks, blowhards, and frauds. We hear, from people claiming great political authority, that Nancy Pelosi is an indispensable member of the center-left. Gavin Newsom is marginal and modestly effectual among elected Democrats for coordinating one of the best responses to the Dread Ailment in the country, while Fancy Nancy is a champion advocate for preemptively capitulating to Mitch McConnell and standing in front of a chest full of $10/lb. artisanal gelati while her Michael Jackson-looking face dribbles off in real time.

That’s cool. It’s great to see that actions inform reputations and that we’re living abundantly in the observable, real world of real lives and real happenings. I meant to mention: I’ve been in bed with multiple Borgia mistresses on the Neapolitan waterfront all night and also colocating to an onsen full of blissfully half-awake capybaras and baboons on the slopes of Mount Fuji, because these are also true things that happened.

The psychosis in this country is unbelievably prolific and pervasive. It’s almost impossible to find anyone in a position of power or wealth who isn’t afflicted. Tom Steyer appears to be one, but his presidential campaign flopped and he threw in the towel after South Carolina. The heir apparent to Her mantle–this is already going just great–is a manifestly brain-damaged bully and phony who was forced out of the running in 1988 for plagiarizing his speeches and who habitually lies about his legislative record, his class background, the extent of his personal wealth, what he earned as a young lawyer in Wilmington, and his scholarship status and class standing in law school. The new rape accusation, because we just knew this guy would be a pervert we’ve covered extensively for putting his hands and nose all over everything that moves, has the ‘liberal” chattering classes in the throes of a normal one. Katha Pollitt would vote for Joe Biden even if he boiled and ate babies. Whoa, bitch: sit the fuck down and take your lorazepam. This is not good, to be saying that just because the incumbent is a loudmouth and a shitposter.

Yes, many less prominent, socially engaged, and influential people have psychotic parasocial relationships with Donald Trump. So what? They may have dysfunctional parasocial relationships over the computer with catfish drones working for the Kremlin in satellite cube farms. So what? We are not a society that visits its shut-ins. Do we sound Amish?

The hope for a better tomorrow rests, amazingly, with the Trump campaign. This is an extremely relative statement. It took rampant corruption and sclerosis to get him into office and more yet to populate his cabinet and staff with its trail mix of relatives, cronies, family retainers, movement conservative creeps, hardline nativist nuts, and evangelical end times Looney Toons. It’s some ridiculously dysfunctional shit, and the more competent it is, the scarier. But the Donald understands communication, not just on a social level but on something like a spiritual, mystical level. Most of it is bullshit, but Biden is an incorrigible bullshitter, too, and he has no spiritual range or depth.

Trump’s campaign has a positive, affirmative vision. For the most part it’s a terrible one, and that old-time Republican nihilism is always boiling just below the surface, but he offers reasons to vote FOR him. Biden and his team are flailing about grasping for reasons to vote AGAINST Trump. If they had so much as a platform they believed in themselves they wouldn’t have the likes of former Nation writers striking child sacrifice and cannibalism as disqualifying factors for the presidency. A normal, well-adjusted voter hearing that the ghost of Jeffrey Dahmer is a respectable Democratic candidate for the presidency, and in fact a crucial one should Joe Biden kick the bucket between now and November, would vote Republican. Nah, lady; Jeff, he ain’t it. Goes for the other pervert with the island and all the rich friends, too.

Take it from a man who prays: thinking informs argumentation, but argumentation absolutely informs thinking. This goes even for prayers as simple as the liturgical Catholic grace (or, as Protestants call it, Oh, it’s over?). I could bog down in a daybreak lay missive about the power of the Rosary, or other spiritual shit that will Men’s Warehouse guarantee to bog me down because that’s exactly what it always does (sample search terms: “intercessor”; “St. Richard Russell”), but [indefinite blank period of the mind, on the night shift (on the night shift)] as one of our best confessors and preachers told us, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” That’s clumsy and off-point for where I’m trying to take this bitch, too reductive and corporeal, somehow, but he’s right. Having a full-blown public mental breakdown over a public official being hella rude (which, as the records of every predecessor through Reagan show, is what drives this nonsense) and reacting by blurting out that cooking and cannibalizing babies would be an improvement over a guy who now draws a federal salary to be a drama queen leads to a greater freakout, which leads to more invitations to insurgent partisan rape, to a more intense freakout, and frankly we’re deep into the realm of the mad by the time we raise the specter of boiling babies.

Let’s pause to reflect on the matter of a well-known, well-established, basically well-respected author going on the record to declare that Donald Trump is worse than a hypothetical baby cannibal. I mentioned Dahmer because Pollitt invited us into his wheelhouse for a voyage none of us wanted but all of us must make. Nah, go back to Dubai Porta Potty or the Levine shit if it’s less disturbing; I don’t mind. I’m done repeating it for a sentence or two, but that statement is not hyperbole. Go to the far side of hyperbole and it’s still beyond the horizon. That’s an utterance that is inevitably, prima facie an effect and a cause of major mental illness. Most people would think about crossing the street if they heard a passerby speaking like that. It’s more troubling as a cause because it aggravates the most destructive ideation and, worse for bystanders, proliferates it into the community. It’s ill-advised to read lines of that nature as an actor with on-demand psychiatric support. This is definitively not the ideation or the language of a person we want interacting with others below the scope of practice of a psych tech at the moment.

Are we still concerned that Grandma thinks Trump is personally looking out for her, like Jesus but also Caesar, and enjoys messaging with her special Russian computer friends? This wack-ass talk is on course to make the Democrats shit the bed with the devout, even with a loud cradle Catholic of some credible pro-life sentiment and background at the head of the ticket. They’re already compromised on matters of religious belief and practice just by virtue (sic) of holding it in such obvious contempt. Their opponent, meanwhile, has made common cause with religious busybodies and has his own inchoate but irrepressible spirtual inclinations. Howdy Modi! I love the Hindu! Can you believe how many gods you could find in the virus? Panpsychism. Phenomenal. You love to see it.

A guy like Trump doesn’t have to seem coherent or even in his right mind to seem human and reachable. He could have a new astral projection every minute with a 50% false positive rate and still be more spiritually grounded than Joe Biden or most of the rest of the Democratic A List. Voters notice. It doesn’t have to be conscious to have a powerful effect. The electorate is maybe 1% Data, 19% Spock, and 80% Captain Kirk. I pulled the numbers out of my ass, but not entirely. I don’t think you want to know about my sleep schedule in this, our time of plague. Heh heh heh heh, I said “ass, but.” Huh huh.

Then again, Biden is leading Trump in the swing state polls, Trump is wearing out his welcome with the flimflamming over the Ailment, and lead poisoning is not confined to the hard right. Biden does convey a probably bogus but oddly cloying emotionality, when he’s lucid enough for emotions at all.

That’s a pile of verbiage about a pile of horseshit that serves greatly to distract American voters from things that actually matter, like homelessness. Again, we are not having a sane one. That’s a national scandal and tragedy that every president starting with Reagan has addressed by sucking his own cock. Reagan released the inpatient insane from the state hospitals without community support as governor, then trashed the economy for working people as president. The Bushes didn’t do much about homelessness, except to tangentially aggravate it in the same fashion as Reagan. Clinton was on the scene for a Twilight Zone incident in which a homeless person froze to death in a bus shelter across the street from the HUD headquarters, emblematic precisely because it was the same shit the federal government and most subsidiary governments had been doing for the homeless for over a decade by that point. Obama contributed generously to homelessness by mouthing insincere platitudes in the face of a foreclosure crisis he strategically allowed.

Biden might be better than Trump on homelessness. He might be worse. He’ll probably just be different. We absolutely have not had a president show meaningful moral or practical leadership on aything pertaining to homelessness since Jimmy Carter. Joe Plagiarism doesn’t look like the guy to break this streak, but nobody cares, or at least not much of anybody who votes.

It’s like it’s a fucking ballgame. The Yankees always play dirty, but we love our Nationals. It’s no coincidence that a guy who reasons like this tried to get me down to Camden Yards for a bachelor party in the midst of the Hot Summer of Freddy Gray and later, upon Trump’s victory, told me, almost despondent, “I guess there are a lot more uneducated people in this country than I realized.”

Trump is the fault of Raiders Nation, in that case. Cool. Are you fucking ready for some. Don’t go looking for money to get people off the trailer park frontage roads along the Nimitz; it’s all gone into the Coliseum.

We unhoused some folks.

Even if we assume that the Bay Area is now governed for worse-than-useless solipsistic narcissists who refer to their own low-key homeless neighbors as “my Uber,” it’s bizarre that they don’t see something really, badly wrong with the scene along the Nimitz or El Camino or all over San Francisco, in a way that a more robust social welfare apparatus is the only thing that can help. What are we trying to replicate here? Sao Paolo? Lagos? Bombay? Possibilities are flicking straight through my mind: probably not Addis Ababa, maybe Manila or Nairobi, definitely not Kigali or Buenos Aires or Santiago, no public escalators so it can’t be Cali or Medellin or wherever they did that. We’re on a chute straight into the midrange Third World, just maybe with worse medical care.

I mailed a donation to Loaves and Fishes about sixteen hours before I opened the e-mail I reproduced at the top, the one about the homeless and what we may and may not do for them. I’m not about to risk trouble, for me or for anyone else, by putting leftovers out by a dumpster in the courtyard of my apartment building. I should do something along those lines, a calling I doubt I’ll answer, but if I do I’ll take it out into the neighborhood a bit.

It doesn’t matter, though; not the charity, but the location. In a narrow sense it may, but word is already out on the streets that my building is a place to look for food. The reputation will attract who it will attract, in ways entirely beyond my influence. I was informed about this situation after the fact. There’s a guy I take for homeless who sits in one of the entry hallways listening to music, and who I think stays with one of the tenants on some basis, but he’s always seemed harmless. I have no idea whether he’s been burgling cars, but mine is probably too messy to attract many people, so I’m not worried. Someone did once get in and throw papers everywhere, but I found nothing important missing. I have it parked in my assigned spot under the carport with the windows partway down, the doors unlocked, and the battery dead oops lol, but the chip keys are getting worn again because either Jones West or the plant fucked something up, so, hey.

That’s no battle I’m about to fight. I live in a pretty nice tenement in a nice neighborhood. The neighbors run the gamut from squirrelly but harmless to wonderful. We have three unguarded, ungated entryways to the building, all from a public street. The neighborhood has mixed zoning. The building next door is fully gated and locked. A couple of weeks ago a cop asked me how to get in there to deal with a noise complaint over a late-night pool party. I told him I thought he’d have to wait for a tenant to let him in. Cool cop, cool neighbors; no idea about the pool until I heard the splashing. Even then I initially thought it was coming from a TV in my building.

The building next door is a gentry fortress. Ours is not. We aren’t hiding out behind the palace walls, quaking in our boots about our safety and (extremely nerds voice) Our Purchases. We aren’t Brazil. The pool building isn’t either, really, but it’s headed there, with the rest of us in tow.

We have homeless in the neighborhood. Most of them are over towards the Safeway, but they’re around. There are board and care homes in the neighborhoods, some with furlough programs. There’s a row of redwood trees fifty or a hundred yards away, across a parking lot, with tarps and cardboard and a sofa and stuff in the underbrush. I saw a guy shitting on one of the redwoods on Memorial Day last year, with a cop making a glacially slow six-point U-turn fifteen feet away across a chain link fence.

It’s bigger than me. Then I hear about assholes like Musk and Gates and especially Bezos, and I remember who needs to foot the bill for this shit: them. It would work true wonders to expropriate Bezos, tax him at 99%, flood his facilities with labor inspectors, and overall grind him back down into the uppermost reaches of the vaguely human upper class. How the hell is a billion dollars not enough? He has $150b or some shit. He’s supposedly on course to become the first trillionaire. Mocha Haole is being celebrated as our first prospective billionaire president emeritus. Harry and Bess Truman moved back into their bungalow or whatever the hell in Independence with the Secret Service in the yard. Carter put his peanut farm into a blind trust. Why aren’t we making Barry pass us more o da kine, yeah? What is wrong with us?

This isn’t a village with a cartwright, a potter, a stingy barber surgeon, a ruined prince, and a hundred mentally retarded field hands. Bezos amounts to a rogue knight who socializes with the town gossip, orders his neighbors to work in his shop for free and sleep in an outdoor pigsty, lounges around in a hammock telling them what to do for him, and gets up with a cat-o-nine-tails in hand and wails when they refuse to approach the whipping post at his command and instead walk off the property. On his own, he’s laughably impotent.

Musk is even worse. an even more useless prick who’s also the town drunk.

Rich assholes like these love talking about the state of nature, the lion and the gazelle both getting up each morning (there aren’t clocks on the savannah, dumbass), and dog-eat-dog, sink-or-swim fights to the death through pure merit. In an actual state of nature, as opposed to their skillful arbitrage of postmodern complexity and plenty, they would likely be assassinated by junta. This is the subject of significant anthropological and zoological study. There are limits to the arrogance primitive societies will tolerate. They can be suprisingly low, enforced with surprising vigor and dispatch.

Of course they can end up with incest and pedophilia and domestic battery, and until around 1700 in Europe and today in parts of Africa, routine cannibalism, but then again, beef: it’s not what’s for Donner. Jeff might have a cookbook to lend.

Before I got distracted a few thousand words ago, I meant to say a bit about a jarringly absurd biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt from 1877 or thereabouts. Some forgettable fuckhead, a total idiot and sycophant, got wound up about the Commodore’s contributions to society, including the steam engine, the railroad, the telegraph, and civilization itself. He invented civilization, just as the Italians had to invent the Fiat 500 in order to have sex and, one imagines, Italians. India has freaks from the engineering faculties (where else?) who dismiss Robert Oppenheimer as a dullard before the Mahabharata, a chronicle not only of nuclear warfare but also of two dozen different models of aircraft. You know, that kind of thing. We can perhaps see Mr. Explodeypants from that vantage point. That suckup Victorian asshole, by contrast, assured his readers that the Commodore was personally responsible for technologies first developed in Georgian to proto-Indo-European times.

It rather evokes Elon Musk braying about how he’s going to show that pedo the business by replicating Alvin from scratch and piloting it into a cave he’d known about for a week. Atrios has that grandiose cokehead pegged: If Elon says something questionable and people are talking it up, replace “Elon Musk” with “my uncle Larry.” “My uncle Larry says that limey cunt in Thailand is a boy-diddling pervert. Uncle Larry’s sending a custom submarine into the cave to rescue those kids, once he’s out of the bathroom and on his way back from Minneapolis.”

Come on. He just wanted us to know he wasn’t a fag. Jealous of a nasty, naughty boy? Goodness, no, just heterosexually outraged. Still, if it sounds crazy coming from a weird as hell rancher, it shouldn’t sound any better coming from a cokehead who looks like he just cleared immigration at Roswell.

Raise the marginal rates.

 

Avuncular aspirations

Hysterical aesthetes who conceive of themselves as my manager get frantic, scandalized, and otherwise bent out of shape when I tell them that I will not be voting for Joe Biden. God, does that mean that I want Trump to win? Until recently I would have said yes; now that his kin and cronies are using armed federal agents to steal medical supplies from hospitals, I’ll say no.

It’s not that I consider this a germane point, mind you: there are more than two political parties, as I know as an ongoing consequence of voting for some of them, and Trump or no Trump, Biden is a piece of shit. I don’t feel a preference for either of those asshats at the moment. Either one will be a disaster, Congress as currently assembled looks unlikely to rein either of them in, there’s awfully little daylight between them anyway, and I no longer see a downside at all to voting third-party. Since I no longer prefer Trump to Biden or this cycle’s lucid but still execrable spring offerings, there’s no upside to punishing them by voting for the Donald. We’re past the lesser of two evils with that matchup, best I can reckon, and no amount of sound and fury from Pelosiland will change that, because it’s irrelevant, distracting nonsense. Your boy needs facts.

We’re also past the point at which Gropey Joe pisses me off anywhere near as much as his handlers. As I’ve stressed time and time again, that guy is manifestly fucking out to lunch. Astoundingly, he’s now even worse. You or I wouldn’t just be advocating to institutionalize him at this point if he were a loved one; we’d be itching for a fistfight with anyone objecting to his immediate placement in a closely monitored environment with round-the-clock care or to barring him from ever entering into another contract for the rest of his life. He’s a terminally senile man whose mail we would intercept. Snicker to taste, if you can muster some, about his gullibility before the Nigerian princes in his family; that man has no idea whatsoever how to file his tax returns or pay his bills. He’d put the mortgage bill in the trash can or the wood stove, just to cut down on the clutter. He can’t speak normally for ten seconds. He can’t even look the least bit normally at a nearby focal point, such as a television camera. P. J. O’Rourke’s other coequal branches are Money and Bullshit, so by golly we’re off to a great start.

We’re giving this dude the launch codes? Not with my vote we fucking are not. It doesn’t take a boarded neurologist to tell that he’s lost every one of his marbles and ain’t getting them back. I thought Trump was senile until his post-acquittal victory presser about the bullshit of dirty, dirty cops, and I can imagine that the weight lifting from his shoulders gave him a cognitive rebound that hasn’t yet ended. I increasingly take Trump for a better actor than most politicians, certainly including Biden, and it’s well within his capacity to gaslight his audience, although with his attention span it could just as easily be stream-of-consciousness bullshitting. 12-dimensional chess? Gimme a break, Stossel. Lyle and Erik aren’t wasting their stamps mailing moves to that fool.

The august opposition is now responding to an incumbent who doesn’t look as befuddled as he once did by running a severely brain-damaged septuagenarian who is visibly unable to manage his own activities of daily living. If he can dress himself I’m General Stroganoff, and yes, I’ve got beef. Son of a bitch cannot function without a nurse, and the things he can accomplish with one-on-one assistance are hardly worth trying.

If he wins there is no possible damned way that his duties will not be delegated in their absolute entirety to aides. (His doodies, too, in observance of Strom Thurmond Permanent Diaper Days lol.) We might as well have Edith Wilson prop up her stroked-out husband next to her on the stage like a scarecrow and call him Mr. President.

Who, then, are they proposing in the way of aides? Why, Larry Summers. Gag me Ghomeshi. I rarely say this, but for once I’d prefer to get Charlie off. #CHAHLEE! Of all the luminaries they could have floated, they found a shock doctrine thug who’s also an obnoxious blowhard about how women can’t do math.

These fuckheads keep insisting that there are reasons to vote for Joe Biden, nothing but reasons. Cool. What in the hell are they? He was an incorrigible reactionary, but that’s gone with the wind in the new presidential dispensation, the one incapacitating him from pulling up his own pants.

How do they even get him out of bed without a hospital lift team? No doubt about it, they’re mainlining him speedballs just to keep him awake, and it isn’t working. This shit is worse than my late grandmother’s verbal and spatial function when she was snowed all day on lorazepam. They can’t dose him on straight Addy because he’d veer into foulmouthed tirades and lunge and punch at anything within reach, including bystanders, so they’re modulating the uppers with some heavy-duty sleepytime goodness, but not so much that he’s fully asleep. He’s keeping Ambien hours. If they weren’t dragging him out and telling him where to stand in front of the camera and where to look, like that’s worth a damn, he’d probably be drawing water into a stopped basin to brush his teeth, laying down on the floor, and going to the ER if anyone happened to be within range to hear the water running and discover him passed out in his soaked pajamas.

The courts? Are you shitting me? He’s the guy who pushed Anita Hill out of the way for being a scurrilous slut to get Clarence Thomas onto the Supreme Court. How do we forget these things? Any amateur courtwatcher or general-interest Beltway wonk knows about that. Or maybe not. It’s fucking surreal. Hell, Merrick Garland isn’t what the doofuses who save a physical seat for him advertise, but we can’t expect Joe to even try to nominate judges who don’t piss off the base straighaway. On the 10% chance that he still knows what a federal judge is, we can’t expect him to nominate any who are worth Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarminng gift. Who will his aides pick for him, in that case? They’re all shitheads, too, so it doesn’t matter.

Do I wax cynical? Do I don the foil hat? Look, I wouldn’t be saying this if they were giving me reasons to think that he or the party were offering anything worth having. His handlers are treacheous shysters and he’s permanently out to lunch. They’ve got a thicket of prejudices to break through to reach me now, and it’s their own damn fault.

The court appointment problem goes much deeper and broader than Joe Biden, no matter how little he helps to rectify it. The deal with the Thomas nomination was that the Republican caucus and the talking points cronies at its affiliated policy shops were hella sore that Robert Bork had had to make a case for his confirmation instead of just reading some retarded platitudes off a stack of loose sheets. This was unseemly because it breached ancient and sacred norms, by which they meant that they really wanted that shitty reactionary scold on the high court. They wanted him seated straightaway to throw red meat into the veal pen for the godbotherer base and write mercenary opinions for their sponsors. The Congressional oversight mandated in the US Constitution was a bridge too far. They borked him! He was qualified!

So? How shortstaffed do we seem to be for lawyers? A law degree and a bar admission aren’t even constitutional qualifications for the Supreme Court. Any one of millions of intelligent, thoughtful, conscientious Americans could have appeared before the Judiciary Committee as the nominee and refrained from insisting that the Senate had a solemn duty to grant the Court carte blanche authority to eviscerate civil liberties and the commonweal just because the guy wandering the White House in a befuddled daze soiling his adult diaper had delegated judicial nominations to a committee of pushy ideological wackjobs.

Bork was the historical context. The Democrats listened to some of the worst, most mala fide right-wing ideologues pout like a bunch of whiny bitches about how they hadn’t been given their way by the coequal branch of government constitutionally responsible for approving or rejecting the guy they’d just tried to shove down its throat, and instead of using their backbone to stand up and tell the Republicans to get fucked again if they tried it again, lol jk what backbone, of course they fucking caved. What else would they do? The President can have a little confirmation, As A Treat.

That was it. They didn’t want HW and his attack dogs, scumbags like Lee Atwater, on their asses for applying the same standard to Thomas as they so recently had to Bork. Plus it dovetailed nicely with Joe Biden’s provable reactionary tendencies. Win win!

Ideology had been Bork’s undoing. There were no allegations impeaching his personal character as a private citizen, but he was an extremist kook hellbent on forcing his deranged personal sentiments on his nation. Thomas was pretty extreme, too, but his Achilles Heel lived in his pants. The standard for confirmation went from don’t be Business Plot John Calvin to gee she must be accusing the poor guy of being a sex pest because she’s a crazy lying slut.

At no point in the prevailing confirmation process was it asked whether the White House shortlist included prospects who did not walk around the office talking to discomfited subordinates about Long Dong Silver on company time. That story alone was blatant grounds to return the distinguished gentleman to sender. Like, here’s the breaks, Pops: this guy you sent us is a highstrung grandstanding kook who won’t keep it in his pants. Try again; he ain’t it, chief.

The Senate had the constitutional prerogative to do this as many times as it took to yield a nominee for the lifetime judicial appointment under consideration who wasn’t horseshit. You wanna fill it, Herbie? Okay, tough guy, send us someone, anyone, who doesn’t directly insult our ethical discernment. It’s a basic assertion of advice and consent: our advice is that this bastard fucking sucks, and we do not fucking consent. Next!

Never mind; that takes normal adult assertiveness. The Hill had been, from time to time, a bad place to swing by and piss on a member’s leg with a cheery comment about how the reservoirs were down and so I reckon we could use some rain. This was the threshold for minimally acceptable behavior that the Congress had set as recently as 1986, by shitcanning Bork’s application. When push comes to shove, the standard is, listen, boss, we don’t like him and we aren’t gonna take him. It’s the same standard as Reagan and Bush had used for their nominations, just in reverse: me likey, me sendy.

What? They no likey? There just might be a solution rattling around somewhere in here, like not repeatedly sending nominees up to the Hill when they’re dogshit. It’s an elementary proposition: consent can be granted, or consent can be denied. Boy Lordy are there some emeritus ranking members of the Judiciary Committee who could use a lesson like that. The point is, this ain’t a no-backs deal. The nomination is a yes-or-no question; because it is a yes-or-no question, the body answering it is allowed to say no. Good God y’all, even Ricky Ray Rector recognized the right to say no to dessert now in the joyful hope of dessert later.

None of this crap is how adults should do business with one another. It’s basically toddlers throwing tantrums over the most obnoxious, devious shit until their parents relent. In this case the parents relented without delay because they’d fielded a tantrum a couple of years before. At some point it’s time to Just Say No, Nancy. Which Nancy? There’s no need to go to Panera for a You Pick Two, cracka. Heh. Two cracka.

It’s so pathetically fucking basic. If a bunch of pushy shitheads keep asking the same obnoxious question, they need to be given the same firm answer denying them their unacceptable requests until they get the hint and cut that shit out. It took Slick Willie one iteration per request to get the message because he was a little weenie; see Guinier, Lani. The Republicans stood their ground and got their way, again, because the Democrats were trembling little weenies.

A self-respecting Congress would have put its foot down and told the president coughing up these shit-tier nominees that repeatedly asking the same question would repeatedly yield the same answer. That shit you pulled didn’t fly last time, and it doesn’t fly this time. It’s still a hard no, boss. Who wears his beanbag slippers to the hardball court? (Duh: a Democrat.) The result is that extremist freaks, busybodies, crooks, and fellow-traveling trash who have no business being in public office keep pushing the envelope with outrageous demands, like, you need to confirm this fine gentleman because me and my buddies will get upset if you don’t. A proper adult would ask, who the fuck is that? Some asshole doesn’t like being told now? That’s groovy, fuckwad, because I didn’t like being asked. Go ahead and prepare me my place in hell, bitch.

Some demands are so outrageous that the answer should never change. We don’t just shovel Pop Tarts into a trough to get our kids to shut up about how they’re hungry again. Or maybe we do. I am not my brother’s keeper at the Chinese buffet in Gallup; I would never have heard of it but for the misfortune of having been its customer. You live; you learn; you let it go to waist and wait for the Beetus Bird to bite. But at some point one just has to stop rolling over like a whipped little bitch every time some shitbird throws a fit.

We all have our little asks. Hey, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll lash this all-steel carving fork to your forearm with this roll of copper wire and stick the tines into that electrical outlet. Uh, excuse me, you will not. Are you out of your mind? Did Dr. Mengele send you? That, my good binch, is off the agenda.

That’s the Republican MO: demand outrageously evil concessions, then squeal like a herd of stuck pigs at the sound of every objection. Whadday mean, we’re killing people? We’re just keeping the government from interfering in other people’s healthcare by giving them healthcare as well. We’re just saving taxpayers who won’t notice the difference on their refunds from having to fork over an extra fractional-fractional cent per dollar so their neighbors eat for free instead of getting a job and still going hungry.

Just hurl a volley of chillingly heinous demands at the wall and see what sticks. With the Democrats in opposition, that’ll be most of them.

They wonder why we’re so cynical about politics. They wonder why we don’t trust and admire Nancy Pelosi as a liberal progressive leader of great moral character. It couldn’t possibly be that they’re all rich insider traders who have exempted themselves from ordinary life and seceded from it.

It will be swell to field the next round of seething broadsides about how I and the rest of the left are privileged for even thinking about not voting for Biden. We’ll be lectured to recognize and agree that the perfect, a compos mentis candidate of credibly good motives and free of accusations of sexual aggression, is the enemy of the good, a permanently and severely demented retired rapist with an exceptionally lengthy and recent history of groping women in full public view. It fucking rocks that the only reason Joe has retired from the game is his comprehensive failure of neuromotor function.

Yes, certainly, it is our duty to vote for this sack of seeping brain mush in a suit who in no way evokes the late-stage Soviet Politburo’s succession of a disheveled cripple, a guy who kicked the bucket in a matter of weeks, and a mute. For fuck’s sake these duds made the guy with the port wine stain sprawling across his bald spot look like a spring chicken.

Like hell is it privileged not to vote for a piece of shit who’s decomposing in real time. Are they kidding me? It isn’t even a privilege not to vote in general. The main reason I vote is that I’m residually middle-class. The poor don’t vote. The statistics prove it. The sociological anecdotes about why, however, are the humiliating part. Hint: if you’re scolding them about it, they don’t like you.

Only a moron would fail to recognize any of this. Only a moron would go into politics.

Airhead conditioning

Scott Simon aired a lengthy Steve Hartman-ass story not long ago about a twee, smug attorney lady who’s sewing masks and getting peers to sew masks. They put a fucking muzak track on as the background. This volunteer homework crew had completed, I believe it was, either 25,000 or 40,000 masks out of a goal of a million. That’s a piss-poor reason to be so loud and self-satisfied, to my way of doing math. I wouldn’t go on the radio and brag about that. Then again, I’m just the audience, not the story.

Do you still wonder how so many affluent American adults have come to cherish the Harry Potter series as nonfiction? NPR aired this happy horseshit as a heartwarming personal-interest story about ordinary Americans rising to the occasion. I can’t shake the feeling that Tocqueville put a curse upon us all by describing us. A sane society noticing that the high Tocquevillean ideal of community voluntarism had degenerated into the official excuse for a catastrophic failure of national industrial policy in the thick of a hundred-year public health emergency would immediately reclassify Tocqueville as John the Baptist to Faulkner’s Jesus.

Happy Easter, bitch. I had a good Friday. Did you? It’s centering to contemplate that we, as Catholics at least, are observing Good Friday as an extended, indefinite liturgical season this year, but it would be encouraging if there were any discernible prospect of national resurrection from whatever we wish to call this grotesque thing we’ve become. Like, we misplaced the industrial capacity to ramp up production of basic all-purpose protective face masks, and in fact we misplaced large parts of our industrial capacity in the infamous Chinese plague city no one in this country had heard of at Christmas, but instead of worrying about that, as mere citizens, warm your hearts with Saturday Morning Arts and Crafts Hour.

The complexity of N-95 masks is a secondary problem. They’re surprisingly simple in their design, and the straps and hooks tend to be flimsy. Besides, bandanas are closer to the protective effects of proper masks than they are to wearing nothing. The blindingly bright red flag is that we’re being told to take in sewing on a volunteer basis to compensate for the failure of theoretically masterful multinational manufacturing companies, including 3M, to adequately supply our hospitals with masks that are de rigueur on any responsibly overseen construction site. It’s like saying that the Quartermaster Corps is all out on R&R until no telling when–gettin’ real used to that beach life on Oahu, might even run into ScoMo–point being, we have to get grandma back into the kitchen and maybe even activate the Sister Wife Reserves. Any attentive person hearing this would think, good God, I thought that’s why those asshole hired cooks.

Normally I don’t much care if somebody’s taking in sewing. This situation is different. Sewing medical equipment at home without pay is a punk move. It’s scab labor, too, although nobody involved understands or cares, to judge from the aw-shucks sunnyside “inspirational” stories that always spring up as word gets out about these efforts, like so many mushrooms on a fresh horse pie. This dysfunctional free homework model comes into operation precisely because 3M is too cheap and venal to pay trained employees to manufacture masks on the industrial scale needed for a large industrialized society. That is, popular self-reliance and pluck among America’s amateur seamstresses frees 3M from the need to exercise the corporate self-reliance and pluck required to operate a proper factory. This Tocquevillean bitch work frees Our Job Creators from the need to create jobs, and in particular to humor uppity employees’ demands for decadent privileges such as pay sufficient to raise a family and a safe workplace.

NPR ran the story, so it’s no surprise that it served to make comfortably furloughed PMC desk jockeys feel helpful when in fact they’re do-gooder idiots. Manufacturing companies have production, warehousing, shipping, and sales departments for reasons, if you can fucking imagine it. Hospitals can’t afford to coordinate supply lines with tens of thousands of random dipshits who read on Facebook that it’s time to make masks and whose skill and quality control are utterly unvetted. As I said, it’s damning that it came to this in the first place. Floor staff want nothing to do with this ramshackle amateur horseshit. If it’s getting promoted under hospital auspices, that’s the administrators’ fault. Marketing ‘professionals” would rather talk about their employers’ branding than go to nursing school or head downstairs and wash the linens. In a number of hospitals the brand has included punishing floor staff for wearing masks. Oops; moron this as we proceed.

NPR pretends to cater to people who seek to understand the world. The last few words inevitably forced their way into my entire mind in Marco Werman’s voice. In practice, NPR is for overpaid Dunning-Kruger asshats who know jack shit about how the world works and therefore presume themselves exactly the geniuses who should run it. Smugly going on the record on a nationally syndicated program to brag about having filled less than 5% of one’s own production goal and either refusing to mention or (likelier) being unaware of the supply chain collapse making one’s amateur scab homework useful in the first place is a good example.

And, because why the fuck not, that bitch preened about her organization and herself like she was telling a story on the Moth Radio Hour. They’ve got these shows on NPR: Moth, Selected Shorts, Planet Money, How I Built This, The Ted Radio Hour, Freakonomics Radio. What’s unbelievable about them, leaving aside the navelgazing Brahmin existential abyss of the arts and culture offerings (bacteria, too, can be cultured) and the dead-eyed, dead-souled, Eichmannic rationality of the core curriculum in economics, is that every one of them dredges up pathetic social climbers who speak in the same fucking voice.

Many of them sound pharmaceutically sedated. It’s even worse than the Mary Mayhew Voice: she’s a scummy whip-wielding schoolmarm, but there’s a working soul rattling around back there. The energy on these shows is that of the belated, quietly frantic remoistening of New England’s upper crust, but it isn’t exactly a regional thing, either: Guy Raz and Stephanie Lazarus are both Jews from Los Angeles. Assimilate the Jews into the Wasp Nest, or assimilate the goys into the Tribe: take your pick, because there’s no redeeming any of them when it happens under the auspices of 21st-Century National Public Radio. Those assholes could drive out to Ronkonkoma and ruin the integration of the Jews and the Italians. They’ve already got David Brancaccio on air, so they’re off to an indecent start.

When Lena Dunham taking the Hampton Jitney out to the shore house to spend the weekend learning the words and the moves to the Fuck You Song is a psychological and existential improvement, we’ve got what they call issues. Entertain your concerns about the Brahmin funemployed all you like; just save a thot or two to ponder the possibility that all is not well with those they left behind, in the workforce (sic). An all too reasonable shorthand for their careers is that they dare not look too closely at what the hell they’re doing with their lives, because if they did they’d realize they’re in a cult. The few open fuckups I knew in prep school and college were WAY better adjusted than the hordes of neurotic social climbers who did the work and maintained the GPA but never looked like they were doing anything more than going through the motions and always appeared to be on the verge of a catastrophic, incapacitating emotional breakdown that they were barely holding at bay. They were much better adjusted than the rich dullards, some of the latter also being low-key sociopathic, who looked more or less emotionally capable of holding down a job but less or less intellectually capable. If I get daydrunk and fall asleep listening to LCD Soundsystem on repeat, and I should do that more often, I’m operating above the community baseline, not below.

I guess there are people with jobs who listen to NPR, too, like, people who do something describable for a living that others would generally agree isn’t a grift or a con. Chris Arnade says long-haul truckers all have opinions on NPR hosts, but trucking is just something for Kai Ryssdal to tacitly suggest bothering your underemployed brats for not taking up when capital is playing chicken with the driver pool again, not something to seriously pursue. This goes to show that everything isn’t always getting worse: Brancaccio once crowed, in the most revoltingly passive-aggressive voice, about how Amazon was hiring for the holidays. What’s wrong with working at a fulfillment center? Uh, everything? It ain’t your fulfillment they’re after, kid, and as Drew Carrey says, that’s why they call it a job, but everything about that job and that company is atrocious. It might take Ikea to design a concentration camp, but it would take Amazon managers to run it.

Things about NPR that don’t make sense as news are better appreciated as quack-quality family therapy with Dr. Karadzic. It’s therapy, so that means you pay for it, although Amazon pays for it, too. Love sponsors! David Brancaccio doing product-placement seasonal recruiting for a company that keeps ambulances on call outside its warehouses isn’t about recruiting temp workers so much as it is about shoring up Amazon’s customer base (we hear it’s the place to work!) and shoring up NPR’s base of pay pigs (you’re the neurotic losers who are still listening to us denigrate your children with your pledge money). Most of these neurotics and creeps don’t actually want their overeducated adult children taking one of those hellworld jobs, getting radicalized on the spot, and reporting back at Christmas dinner that the Brands are Not Good.

There’s a lot of sociology and group psychology going on here. It’s easy to discover some of the many Millennial Success Normies who are really weird around the failspawn, for those of us who didn’t get the memo from Mr. Ziglar about seeing him at the top. The normcore faith in the Economic Recovery from the Great Recession (*Thickest Possible Stage Voice* You want a recession? What rhymes with “recession?”) doesn’t work if the normies stop having jobs. That sweet gaslight, it don’t work on the down-and-out. It’s harder to get people who DON’T HAVE JOBS to believe in the “jobless recovery.” As Rob Ford himself lacked the chutzpah to assert, it was a SOBER evening of whiskey on the rock.

Five million Americans and then some dropped straight off the national payroll in a single calendar year in the heat of a residential foreclosure crisis, and two years later everything was back to normal. For a nation with so much unemployment we’re really fucking squeamish talking about it, just off-the-charts delusional. We had that problem in the First Great Depression, too, although it took more sophistry to deny because the government and the press got caught short by the crash and were forced to report the statistics they had, not the statistics they desired. The deranged psychosocial interplay between the unemployed and the employed is about what should be expected in a society run as a cult by functionally do-nothing elites who believe that work is for Mexicans. It speaks volumes that we still have the nerve to ask one another, and tolerate being asked, what we do for a living. There are appropriate responses to this intrusive question, including “Excuse me?” and “Less than the Mexicans, I guess.” We don’t dare go there because we’re a disgraceful lot of pearclutching chickens, especially for the citizens of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Years ago a well-meaning but abrasive old college buddy who was working as a junior staffer on Capitol Hill who had asked me what I was doing for a living blurted out, “I wish I was unemployed.” Of course he fucking didn’t. What he meant was that he wished he had more time off work. It sounded like maybe he wanted a different job, too. This guy’s shitty job was suddenly my problem because he’d nosed in and made my employment status his problem.

More recently I’ve had people tell me that I wasn’t homeless. What they meant was that I was able to travel, wasn’t destitute, was able to clothe, bathe, and feed myself, wasn’t presenting with acute major mental illness, and wasn’t living under a tarp stretched over some plywood surrounded by a pile of junk spilling out of my shopping cart. They were too ignorant to know this, and in one case entirely too arrogant to care (I should have asked the manager to eject that bitch from the Starbucks in Elko for harassing me), but none of that actually had a fucking thing to do with being homeless. I did not have a safe, stable place to live. I could always crash with my parents back east, but the warm homeless routinely stay with family or couchsurf. I have to say, too, that I goddamn well did not have the patience to explain that homelessness has to do with the lack or precarity of housing, not with being a filthy incoherent bum. Material constraints, cognitive loads, and the intoxication needed to cope with life on the streets turn some homeless people into filthy incoherent bums, but there are propertied people who live like that, too, just without the threat of strangers walking by and bashing their heads in in the dead of night.

That’s what a lot of street people like about Davis. It’s not a terrible place to have a head.

It’s bizarre, then, to watch America turn into a place where idleness is suddenly the in thing. Obviously our bougies are too self-dealing to seek out the stigma of unemployment, but let’s be real: if you can go home, goof off, and still get paid, do you have a job? We have white-collar workers (sic lol) dipping into savings and taking furloughs, but that mainly means that they were never paid to work. It means that they were paid 100-200% of minimum wage to work and the balance of their packages for being clubbable. We aren’t seeing a surge in staycationing among grocery workers. How the hell do you have savings, Anthony?

Idleness became hip when, and because, it became a socially acceptable cause to humblebrag and cudgel to use against enemies. The current PMC boasting about staying in has the same tone as the longstanding, habitual PMC boasting, still in vogue through the first half of March, about going out and working so hard. There are at least two common denominators at play here, both of them embarrassingly low. First, bragging about being a shut-in is the cool new way to be a supercilious virtue signaler. The professional/managerial class is nothing, if not holier than thou. Second, it’s a superficially refined but fundamentally coarse class signifier for a class that loves it some fucking signifiers.

That’s a charitable gloss. It’s far from charitable by any reasonable standard, given its stipulation that these condescending shitheads are looking down their noses at the roustabout servants who go out to fetch them their groceries and restaurant meals. The shelter-in-place orders have provoked a rash of “tipbaiting” incidents at Instacart, in which customers promise generous tips for the home delivery of grocery orders, then greatly reduce or eliminate the tip upon delivery. There’s a traditional word for this practice: fraud. This fraud is of course greatly aggravated by the circumstances of convincing precarious to downright indigent day laborers to risk their health and their lives venturing repeatedly and for long periods into crowded grocery stores. For that matter, this charitable gloss stipulates that these fuckers are cheap and sleazy enough to do business on the gig platforms in the first place, just so they can live large and keep up with their trendy (read: affluent) peers.

The uncharitable, cynical gloss is that, in addition to being predatory cheapskates exploiting an irregular working underclass they were glad to dispossess from reputable aboveboard employment, the PMC is horny for rules. The evidence is, as Lasch might say, revoltingly strong. Shady gig apps are kosher because the VC scumbags behind them bought off or outmaneuvered and outwitted the regulators, making them de facto legal, and of course the rules don’t apply to traditional and customary practices like hiring Latin American peasants under the table as discount domestics. When it comes to rules that allow them to grandstand about their own adherence, though, or to justify their own salaries as scholars and judges of the law, they’re hornt as fuck.

It’s the crassest, most self-serving attitude, and it’s so goddamn smug. It’s the most retarded hypocrisy. These assholes are on vacation from their lavishly compensated make-work jobs, with a surfeit of free time, or at least semistructured time, and instead of using any of it to do their own fucking grocery shopping, they’re preening about how they aren’t allowed to leave the house. It gets even stupider: being horny for rules doesn’t mean reading the rules, unless doing so seems advantageous. Somebody has to provide these useless eaters with their food, and the shelter-in-place orders contain explicit exemptions for grocery shopping. These are the same exemptions allowing Instacart shoppers to endanger themselves and their families and roommates for a pittance. For the love of God the orders in this country explicitly encourage solo outdoor exercise. We mercifully haven’t gone into the technocratic lockdowns proliferating across Europe or, God forbid, the arbitrary militarized chaos of Turkey and India.

The “lockdown,” which isn’t really one, is proving to be the latest bullshit excuse for some of the worst official and semiofficial misconduct. It’s an excuse for cops to go wilding in parks and on public transit over physical distancing violations. It’s an excuse for pampered assholes on partial or total leave from their cushy jobs to exploit and abuse vulnerable casual laborers. Pay attention to the language. These sleazy gig apps never would have flown so easily if their owners, marketers, and customers had insisted on describing them in generally understood terms commonly used to describe the developing world. We had to go All-American and euphemize that shit to death. We have our neighbors working 70+ hours a week driving their social superiors around in their own depreciating cars for poverty wages so low that their cars are the closest thing they have to a home. We have our neighbors scurrying around fetching groceries for the wealthy on a meager commissioned basis, walking up to the doors of mansions only to be told that their customers decided not to pay them after all.

This is the shit we might expect out of India or Brazil. We’re allowing it right here, right now. It’s the next thing to a caste system. In ways it’s uncannily like the Indian caste regime, a priestly, scholarly overclass lording it over various grades of untouchables.

Our caste system is less intricate, so far. In the nineties it was affluent property owners hiring Latin domestic servants of questionable admissibility and work authorization, but sometimes integrating them into their families. Affairs can do the job; just ask the Schwarzeneggers. There’s no need to be THAT bashful about one’s sister wife, here in Pan-American Fork. In the South, this what can brown do for you arrangement has incrementally replaced the classic tradition of the black domestic.

The developments since the crash of 2008 are the really disturbing ones. I thought the fin-de-siècle illegal immigrant nanny/gardener/lover arrangement was bad, and it was. This is worse. One of the most heinous trends is the ever more systematic exclusion of gig workers from restrooms. Restaurants have been barring delivery workers from using their restrooms when they come to pick up orders, on the spurious basis that they aren’t customers. The Sacramento Airport, very recently renovated and expanded at a cost of $2 billion, stages ride app drivers in an exposed remote lot serviced by portapotties. Two billion bucks and they drop a fucking honey bucket on the tarmac. The prohibitive cost of the terminal loop garages keeps gig drivers away from excellent semipublic restrooms that they would almost certainly be allowed to use without interference. It also adds needless driving.

But as Adam Serwer says, the cruelty is the point. The Dalit servant lady must sit on the floor of the empty Metro car to show deference and submission. Who is she to presume herself their civic equal? That fucking cunt? Devyani Khobragade, to my surprise a Dalit herself, repaid the ritual quite handsomely when she got the chance. She had to show who was boss for once.

That’s the godforsaken thing. We have to show who’s boss. The pecking order does not assert itself. We assert it, distinguishing the peckers from the pecked. We insist we must, although rarely in so many words. It’s the gospel we preach with words only when necessary. In a society only recently and haphazadly exorcised of its chattel slavery demons and structured as a nesting doll of bosses inside bosses inside bosses, it would not do to tell the boss off. Being allowed a decent, civilized place to shit for free would convey all the wrong ideas.

Management never cared for the insubordination of the lower orders that proliferated and flourished throught the Great Compression. It was unseemly. It was scandalous. It forced them to live more modestly and even do some work.

And so management pushed back: stack ranking, mass layoffs drug tests, casualization, social media checks, punitive leave, punctuality, and attendance policies, “open door” policies (talk to your boss one-on-one, not your colleagues or your shop steward), unionbusting, “gigs,” “contractors,” nondisclosure agreements, bans on employees disclosing their salaries to colleagues, ad nauseam.

Amazon’s “fulfillment centers” would be impossible in a warehousing job market worth a damn. Turnover would hit 75% per shift. The bosses would get punched out if they had the nerve to come down to the floor and offer a cookie as the prize for winning Power Hour. Managerial tyrants used to get thrown down mineshafts back in the rough old days, for reasons as rough as they were themselves. The only reason they didn’t force one worker to shit in another’s mouth was because they’d get beaten within an inch of their lives if they tried, if not a foot past.

The organizational model of our whole rotten society is to convince sellouts that they have a shot of working for massa in the big house. This is not an exaggeration. Half-assedly compensated line managers at restaurants are routinely given carte blanche authority to abuse their grunts, and they seize it. Franchisees are given equivalent or greater power over their entire workforces. Again, they seize it.

Then we’ve got the bigger cheeses: in rough terms, the Brahmins. The temptation dangled in their faces is the chance to live in the big house. They are offered rule over the realm.

At the top is a small group of true masters of the universe–Chakrabarti in the old country, or Chakrabortty or some other variant. The British actually granted useful local families the right to use this surname. Members of this overclass aren’t usually given keys to the whole world, but they’re given dominion over enough of it not to mind what they’ve been denied, unless they’re uncontrollably power-mad, and many of them are.

The lion’s share of the day-to-day trouble from the Brahmins, however, comes from the high subalterns of the true overclass. In vernacular terms, these are the assholes you knew in college. Curtis Yarvin’s Brahmins clash with his Optimates over the narcissism of small differences: who had atrocious reasons for voting for Clinton versus who had atrocious reasons for voting for Trump, that kind of shit. As a rule, the Optimates directly own manorial properties allowing them to directly oppress or just fleece the proles: dealerships, fast food franchises, independent job-creating small businesses run by America’s Job Creators, themselves. It sounds like the Godhead because it is meant to sound like the Godhead. The Brahmins assert a different but no less disgusting prerogative: the right to rule by virtue of education. They’re priests, you see, not lords.

It’s a grand bitchfest of the Estates. Mind you, the Optimates own much more in the way of estates than the Brahmins do, who resent them for it. Some dealership dad and his cokehead son are proof that the good educated liberals of this fine country are proof that the latter are of good character. We could be worse! Just look at those assholes!

The superfluous liberal (sic) elites (mostly sic), increasingly hanging on for dear life in overheated housing and education markets, in petrified fear of the bottoms below, hate their nominal class peers on the nominal right for living in more affordable regions and having shitty but lucrative family businesses available for the plausibly earned upkeep of their useless, degenerate spawn. I used to drink with a guy back east who the Insurance Schmuck told me grossed $110k working in the main office of his family’s tool business. He could barely stand up most nights of the week. By the time I got done knowing him he’d been talking about leaving the Manayunk crash pad and moving back in with his parents in the hope of getting a grip on his gambling problem, whcih had him playing six online poker games at once and losing up to $7k in a single week. His mother looked snowed to walking death on Xanax the time I met her, mostly by nodding and watching her gaze off into the undefinable distance. His father was another raging alcoholic.

Another thing that gets the Brahmins so sore over the Optimates is the latter’s insouciant assumption that the justifications for wealth and privilege are wealth and privilege. People who’ve devoted their lives to proving that they deserve what they have because they have academically and professionally earned it don’t take kindly to some openly vulgar prick sauntering in and getting all like, yo, bruh, we own this shit. This is a constant subtext to the Hillary deadenders’ shitfit about the Oaf of Office.

I generalize, and I haven’t given much thot to whether it humiliates the Brahmins more when their intraclass enemies outearn them, are worth more, or work less for more. It probably does; it could be another reason why they insist, against great evidence, that Magaland is uniformly poor and practically illiterate. It must rankle to spend decades pretending not to notice The Brands downsizing, putting one chunk of the workforce out on the curb with last week’s trash and dumping its former workload on the other, casualizing what were presumably proud professionals, and just generally screwing over loyal salarymen by reneging promises made during cult programming, to debase oneself so with a steadfast affectation of superior education and critical thinking, and then to watch an unabashedly might-makes-right scumbag with a family business shamelessly plug his shit-for-brains degenerate kid into a headquarters sinecure whose duties are whatever last night’s bender and today’s aggregate stimulant load permit.

Jacob Bacharach says Democrats throw the make-work bullshit jobs at their cronies because they hate their children. This tracks quite well with the Trump Family Organization–for God’s sake Eric looks like a fucking retard–and well enough with Joe Biden standing by while his crackhead son Beau–uh, Hunter–scored a collateral sinecure with Burisma.

One thing that’s clear about these arrangements is that the Democrats prove themselves much more squeamish before insinuations of corruption. It’s that good old happy horseshit about meritocracy again. We’re all educated here. The kid must have earned it somehow. Stop acting like he’s a crackhead; we all know Putin ate his homework. That’s what Putin does. He’s a homework eater. Ask Hillary.

Trump pisses them off by openly not giving a shit. It’s yet another norm he keeps trashing. There’s no moral center to the norms. They are in fact powerfully amoral. President Trump compelling the Secret Service to book rooms and golf carts at Trump Properties because he has cajoled foreign officials into meeting him there for offiical business is every bit as outrageous to these whiny nerds as press conferences about how General Raisin Cane called him “sir” or stream-of-consciousness rally speeches about how he respects the hard hats and likes tariffs.

Any movement predicated on an elaborate gatekeeping apparatus theoretically responding only to merit and whose participants are horny for rules will take umbrage at crude operators like Donald Trump and Rod Blagojevich. There is no fucking way anybody who admires Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or either of the Clintons for their probity objects to Rod Blagojevich for being a crook. That’s a copout. They object to him for being a clumsily crass upstart from the wrong side of the tracks. I was going to add Barack Obama to that list, but I realized that he’s smooth enough, unexamined enough, and had enough sporadic, partial policy accomplishments for voters not to notice that he, too, is a bigtime crook.

The Brahmin-Optimate divide maps pretty neatly onto party lines, then, but not entirely. The Rod Now Spared is a proud and avowed Trumpocrat because he and his fellow celebrity yukked it up and flattered each other in openly crass terms for personal advantage. That shit has to make Obama blanch. Both of them say the quiet parts out loud. Trump in particular is so impolitic that the liberals (sic) who reviled him for being a mentally unfit blue blood prep, and rightly feared his administration at the time (many of them, at least) for what it was doing to civil liberties, now welcome him as a prominent member of the Resistance.

One of the quiet parts they do not with to hear pronouced has to do with the servants. One doesn’t mention them. Here again the Optimates and viable wannabes are more forward about the nature of our socioeconomic regime than the Brahmins dare be. It’s the affluent right wing that is out on the statehouse steps, packing heat and swinging Old Glory in nurses’ faces like a maxi pad hanging from a boner, clamoring for their hair salons to reopen. They need a haircut.

One guy got all kinds of flack for saying he missed sit-down drink refills, which I frankly find entirely relatable, We’re living through strange days, and it doesn’t seem too much to hope to again be able to sit down, have some drinks, and chat with other customers and the waitstaff. What gets me is the uproar of a political movement at once welcoming millionaire funeral directors who look like they cut their own hair and fussy rich bitches who just need somebody else to cut theirs right now and are demanding to speak to the economy’s manager. There’s a specific haircut for it, of course.

This is a bullshit grievance, especially coming from the women airing it. They look sociable enough to know hair dressers and probably be friendly with them. If I’m not totally misreading them, this means that they can make a fucking call and get a bitch to come over and cut hair for a bitch. They’re able to navigate the black market under such easy, nearly turnkey conditions; it’s just that they choose not to avail themselves of it (unless they’re just making it all up, which is a possibility) because they insist on the familiarity and convenience of that specific chair in that specific salon.

They aren’t horny for rules. They love the rules coercing their servants to go to work, such as state regulations barring unemployment benefits to employees who refuse to return to work because they feel unsafe, but the aim there is practical: to get a frickin’ haircut. The reason they want their salons officially allowed to reopen is so they don’t get caught patronizing or operating businesses that have been ordered to close, and also because they don’t mind owing the libs. They aren’t framing it all in terms of virtue; it’s all about flair.

This is a pretty rotten bunch, one that loves bossing servants around, no matter how pleasantly or graciously it does so, or imagines it does. There is, however, a crucial thing to say in Karen’s defense. At least these women admit that they avail themselves of their servants. The main thing they’re trying to do with their protests is to schedule shifts without having the government on their asses about public health. Some of the owners are looking to get back to bossing their employees around and would hate to have them all go indepedent, to become yeowomen (or men!), but they construe this as a private matter, something to let live free of employee recourse to labor law or die.

They’re just being pragmatic scumbags, I mean, goodness, small businesswomen. We’re professionals here. No, not that kind of professional. Ew. Besides, it’s not like these businesses have the cash flow* of a whorehouse, so they can semiprivately be open for business, as she said, but publicly closed due to the current indisposition*, as she said. They don’t even have the cash flow of a business providing what I guess we’re calling nonsensual massage. And, yeah, maybe we have some hangups about some dumb shit having to do with who’s recreationally rubbing whom how and why, but normies, yo.

*(/Sagest Dril voice/ but they care not, of the “Gash Flow”)

The Brahmin position, largely but not entirely overlapping with “liberalism,” is that there are no servants. The intellectual dishonesty alone is reason enough to hate the fuckers. Random strangers magically show up in our lives to help us with shopping and driving and stuff. How convenient! All we have to do is call the universe and it sends them. These yuppies never have a mature, intelligent moment of contemplation about why, exactly, the strangers who flit in and then back out of their lives drop by in the first place to ferry them around and bring them shit. Like, ooh, here I am at 79th and Lex, and this cute Dominican girl from Grand Concourse just brought me a big bag of yummy goodness from Whole Foods, so I tipped her a dollar and she smiled at me, like, totally sincere. Groovy! Karma is good! She told me to have a nice day! Beautiful energy!

Why would these soft cunts approach these matters with anything other than a Gwyneth Paltrow grade of thot? And of course there are other, more openly exploitative customers who dispense with all niceties to instead lounge around their co-ops and just demand stuff.

These gigs suck, and yet many of the customers won’t let themselves imagine that they aren’t all right. They look like a great way to earn some money on the side, especially for secure, affluent people who never do anything of the sort in the way of side jobs. Aside from the cardiac tetanus cokeheads who produce ad copy for Fiverr, the gig platforms are usually effusively sunny about the work-life balance that their drivers or shoppers or whatever can achieve by working part-time and keeping the rest of their time for family, church, and so forth. It’s a sleazy class tell, just like the characters in Harry Potter who are able to fly off on whimsical adventures without academic or professional consequences., suggesting that the author may have been living on a friend’s estate, not just claiming public benefits.

These stories are of course fucking baloney. In the places where these platforms are most used the people running them are almost always desperate, exhausted, barely afloat expendables living in their cars or hotbunking in a slumlord walk-up, doing everything they can to push through another day in hell under a standing cognitive load of 30 IQ points. Doctors in New York City find them presenting at the ER with SARS symptoms, then returning to their full-time restaurant kitchen jobs and the two-bedroom apartments that they share with nine roommates.

The customers don’t hear about this because the servants are trained not to mention it. The conditioning can be as implicit or explicit as it takes; the upshot is that the message fucking gets through. These are expensive cities: LA, SF, NYC, Seattle. Honesty costs tips. Take a stab at equality, and the only bitch that gets cut is your own ass, from the platform. Do punks be feeling lucky?

The blurred lines between master and servant have to be strategically crafted. People who do their own grocery shopping know that the people staffing the Pathmark are paid to be there. They assume the same about nail technicians, automotive mechanics (no worse on occupational pollution and the cars don’t talk back so much lol), and masseuses. Even if they habitually mistreat the employees serving them, they almost always fundamentally understand the nature of the relationship. Clients understand that sex workers fuck them for the money.

The gig platforms operate in an uncanny valley. They have 1099 contractors, not employees, which is bullshit but still de jure or de facto the law of the land most places. They’re work, but they aren’t exactly jobs. They don’t have set schedules. They brag, in fact, about the flexibility of their scheduling.

They’re exceptionally pernicious because they deliberately misrepresent themselves. Not consistently meeting the minimum wage in our most expensive cities makes them exploitative deep poverty jobs. They write computer algorithms to fire the help based on customer reviews. It’s like school grades, but for shitty, exhausting jobs. The corporate behemoths behind these platforms have the nerve to brag about the flexibility they offer when the workers presumably interested in the flexibility can barely get by hustling for their fucked-up business models fifty or sixty hours a week. What the hell is the alternative? Huddling under a cardboard box? Getting run out of Penn Station by transit cops on a nightly basis? Not even having a steady place to shit and shower, and at a time when the gyms have been closed as nonessential, at that?

It takes a peabrained hardline libertarian conception of socioeconomic relations to imagine that this regime fosters a great flourishing of free will for workers. The way it actually works, it does absolutely nothing whatsoever of the sort. Ffs a job doesn’t have to have Kunta Kinte in chains to be exploitative, inhumane, and coercive. The only reason this batshit crazy proposal has any traction is that every officially sanctioned economic philosophy in the United States assumes that our sacrosanct market incentives magically fail to include poverty as a motivation. All these fucking nudges, and none of them is the piercing fear and certain knowledge that not working will cause one to freeze and starve to death, although in fairness working might not be enough to prevent that, either. Any reasonable observer reading just about the dire poverty would guess that the country in question was somewhere like the Congo or Aghanistan, but as John McLaughlin said, *WRONG*. The correct answer is: you get food to eat.

This shit is worlds more delusional than pestering the state government to allow professional haircuts again. The #TCOT agitators behind that want the state to stop interfering in the private labor markets at businesses they patronize. They explicitly want the employer-employee relationship to be reprivatized and relieved of public health regulations that they find burdensome (i.e., inconvenient for their hairstyles). The shitlibs and fellow travelers blithely assume that there is no job market, just an amorphous cloud of angels following their own whims to work, or not, but with one or more of these angels always appearing to minister to their needs. It’s Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, but for servants, but we’ve already been over this, we don’t call them that.

This all happens out in the universe, where everything happens for a reason, but labor policy restricting the license for corporate crooks and their scumbag customers to exploit the reserve army of labor at will couldn’t possibly be one of the reasons for things happening. They just, you know, happen, like the weather or something. We want food, and they want work. It is what it is. It is a postscript chapter of Candide, about the best of all possible curiously convenient arrangements to have out-of-work itinerant peasants meekly fetch provisions and carry them to our castle door whenever we ring the bell.

This best of all possible prole summonings would turn into a real buzzkill if word got out that it’s just a big exploitation racket. ‘T would the mood. Taking desperately poor people who have been artificially coerced into taking hellish, terribly compensated jobs obsequiously serving others and systematically miscategorizing them as happy humble folk just following their natural bliss seems like an odd but oddly familiar tune, perhaps a little Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth. Mercy, O’Hara, that always comes as a shock, but I wish I were just shitposting. Underworked, overpaid shitheads in the metropoles say the same things about their underpaid, overworked servants that whites in the Old South said about their black neighbors. They were happier as slaves, surely preferred this to Africa, just look at that precious pickaninny smile. It isn’t what we want; it’s what THEY want. Sure, we’ll maim or just about beat to death any of them who object, or at least banish them from the day labor market, but goodness, we never seem complain.

The through lines dive underground, but they do not go away. If nothing else, the Planter South stipulated the existence of slavery as an institution. In New York and Los Angeles and other dynamic, forward-looking cities with two thirds of the GDP today, what caste system? There are no castes. It’s the Devil who denies himself as a being. Then, taking recourse to Harry Potter, which we shouldn’t but we must, we discover wonderous questions from the deepest reaches of the intellect. For example, what if the muggles enjoy serving the wizards? Should we feel bad? Like, okay, servitude or whatever is a thing, innit, but what if they like it like that? Is it still wack?

Christ have mercy, that bitch-ass wizard shit is a roman a clef for the English class system and the American racial caste system. We’re reworking these oppressions and horrors into a batshit fantasy series about flying around under the Gothic spires of a public school on a fucking broom. We have all these dumb af character archetypes who are really nothing more than Prince Charles, Our Cockneys, and, like, dingbat Harriet Tubman. Grown adults admit to reading this shit in earnest, with no shame, no gnawing feeling that there has to be more to books than this. Real life is adult stuff, not fun stuff, but maybe this stuff is close enough.

Bitch it is not. Is it any surprise that this shit overlaps so with our current round of semiofficial bearbaiting? I’m extremely familiar with the United States and reasonably familiar with Russia for a foreigner who visited once and still dabbles in the language. The shit I hear said about our alleged geopolitical relations sounds nothing like either of the two. Rachel Maddow is nothing but a neighborhood happy hour drunk who somehow got a high-profile platform to comment on the “news.”

And is it any surprise that both of these shitty mats of cultural detritus, MSNBC and Harry Potter, intersect in such an impenetrable spaghetti bowl with The West Wing? That’s the #content our presumptuous erstwhile rulers crave: a real-time reimagining of the Clinton Administration under a boring chaste nerd, not a fun horny nerd. They refuse even to romance us on the way to the electric chair, Mr. Thurmond. That retardedly self-important outpouring of prestige television is as useful a vehicle as any for the delusion that Bill Clinton exorcised our nation’s racial demons, when in fact he liberally fed them. Food to eat: that’s liberalism, too, kid, in America.

Say, might be some left over on Ricky Ray’s tray. Bless, o Lord, these thy gifts.

Faulkner wasn’t kidding. The past is not dead, but this gallon jug of Bourbon is. It starts to feel impossible to get anything done through political channels when these navelgazing freaks keep blocking them. What else should I say if factions within the Republican Party now seem more amenable than the Democrats to reality-based living? Bernie Sanders is not realistic, but Josiah Bartlet is? Joe Biden comports himself like he’s always recovering from a trip to the East End of Cincinnati for neurosurgery from James “Mack the Pipe” Mack. I guess that’s what we’re calling compos mentis these days. Up in Over-the-Rhine there’s a $20 blow-and-go to be had if you don’t mind the brick house blowing it, but I’m sure that price, too, is just the price the universe floated to and settled on in its cosmic wisdom and not the highest starting bid our thick sister was willing to offer because she was poor and desperate for cash.

We’ve really gone off the Reality Reservation lately as a polis. Our main political parties, both aggressively aristocratic, are, respectively, a postmodern full-on reactionary death cult, currently demanding an officially sanctioned afternoon out for a long-acting Jim Jones Kool-Aid cocktail, and a modestly less death-cultic but equally postmodern collection of ostensibly “liberal” and “progressive” authoritarian chickenshits trying to swaddle themselves against perceived threats that may or (likelier) may not be present, all from the arrested developmental age of a slow sweet sixteen. This latter “left” party resents the hell out of Bernie because he’s a no-nonsense Jewish grandpa, not some out-of-touch putz showing off his top-of-the-line home refrigerator full of high-end ice cream. The former, paradoxically, includes officials who don’t mind the old socialist because they have weird patches of common ground with him, as well as voters who might defect either way across the divide, passing over the perpetually adolescent crybabies and drama queens none of them can stand.

The partisan standoff over the Dread Ailment is not simply one of science and reason versus superstition and the economy. The average shitlib Democrat believes in science the same way the average right-wing nutjob Republican believes in Christianity. Cue Gandhi musing about Western Civilization as such a fine idea. There are those in the mix who seek out the truth in a spirit of genuine intellectual and moral curiosity, but they murmur into a void awash in the stupidest, crudest, most ulterior screeching. Public health restrictions might seem less onerous if one’s favorite services are allowed to maintain full operations (GrubHub, UberEats, Netflix) than if they are not (hair salons, the dining room at Applebee’s). In this light it’s all a petty cultural dispute having nothing to do with public health.

Paranoia that secular elites are using the crisis as an excuse to crack down on religious gatherings may be warranted. I stress: may. There are Dawkinsbots squirming around in the woodwork with smug glee that Easter services got canceled because they were all bullshit anyway. On the other hand, it sure looks like that dumb fool in Virginia got himself killed by going to church. Personally, I’m pining more and more for Mass and confession, but it still looks like a pretty inopportune time to welcome the parish’s sick elders back into the sancutary, exchange the sign of peace, and all drink from the same cup.

Once again, it’s a cultural weed thicket we’ll exhaust ourselves trying to explore. Like any other crisis, this one is activating the bad actors to exploit it for all it’s worth. We’re extremely lucky in the United States, for the most part, that there has been so little government overreach in the response. We have overwhelmingly been left free to go about our daily lives. NPR segments have been allocated as veal pens for teachers’ pets and busybodies to grandstand as private citizens instead of warping official policy to their whims and using the full coercive power of the state to enforce it.

But this is just for the lucky among us. There are neighborhoods the police chronically terrorize, sometimes even with the complementary assistance of nonsworn street gangs. We have our prisons. We have our SRO’s, our workingman’s flophouses, our encampments, our residential parking strips down by the bay and the tracks on the poor side of town.

It’s plain as day that we are not actually taking this shit seriously. Inept, derelict shitheads like Carolyn Goodman are still being allowed basically full latitude to fuck around and fuck up without state or federal intervention. Nobody ever does a thing for the homeless. It’s taken a public health emergency in which they’re confirmed vectors of communicable diseases that rampantly transmissible among the housed, not just other homeless, to move the above statement from 99% true to 95% or maybe 90%. Any adequately engaged government with jurisdiction over Clark County would have immediately moved in and forced the city and county governments out of the way the day the goddamned social distancing squares were painted on that parking lot with a direct line of sight to and from hundreds of vacant hotel rooms. We, whoever the hell “we” are, are doing little about congregate living disasters in general, ones that should have been made superfluous decades ago. It’s taken weeks to months to start emptying prisons in earnest, and so far the effort has been disastrously hit-and-miss. For the love of God prisons, flophouses, squats, encampments, and other crowded, filthy congregate living arrangements with poor to nonexistent utilities have been known breeding grounds for communicable diseases for centuries.

It is not that we don’t know. It’s that we don’t care.

Then there’s the very suspect official about-face on masks. Nobody I’ve seen in a position of authority has given a credible explanation of what motivated the initial opposition to the widespread public use of masks or the recent and in many places abrupt reversal. That which was forbidden is now mandatory. All that is not mandatory is forbidden. Hospital and supermarket workers were begging for weeks to be allowed to wear masks and told to shut up and go back to work. It would scare patients. It would scare customers. Some defied these orders and were punished. Some were fired.

The original party line was that mass mask use would deprive doctors and nurses of N-95 masks. These are the same masks that DHS and other federal agencies have been seizing on arrival, almost certainly to resell on the black or gray market, along with other medical supplies. They’re scalping masks and ventilators. Charlie Baker had to get Robert Kraft to send the Patriots’ 767 to China to bring a shipment through Anchorange and into Massachusetts unmolested.

This shit rightly pissed ordinary Americans off. It was reckless and outrageous, all of it. Citizens very reasonably protested that officials were trying to get us all killed. After weeks of this furor, the authorities started to come around. Like, shit, that sounds like a good idea; we’d hate to get anyone killed. From that point public health officers moved quickly, to the extent that full mouth and nose coverings are now required to enter enclosed public spaces in much of the country.

If they wanted conspiracy theories about the pandemic, they did exactly the right things to culture them. Keep in mind that the current outbreak surged from a baseline level of public trust corroded by years of escalating celebrity woowoo about vaccines, autism, probiotics, pH balancing agents, and the dangers of allopathic medicine in general, itself facilitated by the blatant, widespread, officially unacknowledged failures of allopathic medicine. The pandemic has accreted to this already voluminous corpus of quackery, conjecture, rumor, and fraud prolifc Facebook conspiracy theories about, among other claims, the government having programmed the virus with a kill switch that it will flip once it’s killed its full quota of constituents. Mainstream Republicans have cast their lot with the Trump Organization’s fixation on hydroxychloroquine and similar compounds as cure-alls, a fixation driven by a barely scrutable combination of insider trading, extrapolation from preliminary clinical research, and Owning the Libs. Trust in mainstream medicine is now more than ever a hallmark of affluent Democratic orthodoxy. It’s a Brahmin Thing. That, and refusing to look at evidence that medical, quasimedical, and pseudomedical authority figures are ulterior, malevolent, or just fuckig inept.

It breaks down once again along lines of class, caste, and subculture. Dr. Oz is a touch on the low-class side for the proudest Brahmins, and Facebook samizdat is absolutely way too far over the line. Bill Gates, though? Dear God is he a creep, but he has his foundation. A reasonable, critical person, even one discerning nuances in his motives, as I do, has to look at the scope of the Foundation’s work and wonder whether maybe the foil hatters aren’t wrong about the guy.

;There are reasons why the streets don’t trust authority figures in these situations. Even if the proles are spelunking rabbit holes that yield no bunny, they’re touching on, if not directly raising, compelling questions about the trustworthiness of the governments that now claim to watch out for them with an eagle eye. Ask yourself: after Tuskegee, Pruitt-Igoe, the mass sterilizations, the eugenics craze that attenuated only slowly after the Gilded Age crashed along with the international economy, Flint, the postwar Nevada bomb tests, and the Anthrax scare of 2001, is there anything farfetched about gain-of-function experiments gone awry at Fort Detrick? The Chinese counterpart, sited impressively close to Wuhan, is also an acceptable answer. Correct? We just do not know.

What we do know is that the authorities aren’t telling us. At least they’re finally telling us to wear masks, although it would be nice if they didn’t encourage us to be showboating assholes about how we’re toiling away at home like so many Keebler Elf wives to manufacture them.

They do nothing but ask for money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ye cannae imagine why, love.

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

Do they have any idea of what groceries cost?

Fancy Nancy’s Ice Cream Open House reiterated, in vivid color, just how sneeringly out-of-touch she is with the vast majority of Californians and Americans. Ordinary people IN HER OWN DISTRICT do not live like that. Her domestic luxury may overlap with that of a fifth of a quarter of her constituents, depending on just how forward-looking and dynamic they are as a community, but has she ever taken a look around Chinatown or the Tenderloin? Cybil never lived that well out in the Avenues, and that was back when a basic bitch could afford a damn apartment.

We have a dear family friend who recently moved from Potrero Hill to Lower Pacific Heights. We’ve been in both of her apartments. Neither of them ever looked the least bit like Nancy Pelosi’s kitchen. Her old apartment was barely that big. She has to be one of the ten most educated and eloquent people I’ve ever known. She happens to be deeply grateful to Pelosi for providing crucial constituent services in the knick of time to keep developers from demolishing her art studio out in the Bayview, but for the love of God fuck off with the idea that Fancy Nancy is a case of the cream rising to the top. I’ma up and barf if I hear any more of that.

Come to think of it, it’s questionable how many voters from out of town–shit, how many San Franciscans, for that matter–have any idea of what exactly Nancy Pelosi actualy represents, in sociological or socioeconomic terms. It’s gotten scarce to find deals where a free-spirit loser can crash with some dirtbags in the Haight or chill with Anna Madrigal for a decade or two while she gets her shit together. Absent rent control these arrangements would be nonexistent. The techbros, absentee investors, and fellow-traveling shysters have distorted San Fracisco into an alien cityscape where it costs a grand a month to hotbunk in a sober living flophouse in the Castro and a freshly burned-out identikit stucco box in Glen Park can be listed for a million and a half.

If you thought Brender and Eddie could never go back THERE again, you should take a look around here. There was a tower full of condos sold for prices well into the upper six figures, at the lower bound, that was engineered in such a ramshackle fashion that the builders couldn’t even level the fucking floors. The old-school broad middle class who made San Francisco livable after the war are clinging for dear life to studio apartments and two-bedroom rowhouses out deep in the neighborhoods. There are mythical plans to make the city affordable again, but to be real, they don’t exist.

The point of living there today is to be waited on by servants. Destitute people bike in or take Muni from local accommodations that amount to dormitories, or drive in from God knows where, often some shithole with on-street parking along the train tracks or the waterfront, to fulfill jitney cab and home delivery orders on demand, as dictated by their portable telephones. They have on their persons at all times advanced computerized, radio-enabled pocket telephones with high-definition screens, devices that would have astonished anybody in 1980. Meanwhile they can’t afford a decent room the size of a jail cell or a pod in a Japanese cubicle hotel. The working stiffs on payroll who staff the proliferation of coffeeshops, fast-casual joints, midrange tourist trap restaurants, department stores, nail salons, and other service jobs in this lopsided service-heavy economy do better as a rule, but by reasonable stadards few of them do well.

This regime enables the well-to-do to lead lives of exceptional convenience, ease, and luxury, and it allows them to do so on the cheap. Without it they’d be forced to degrade themselves by taking Muni, calling (and paying for!) cabs, or doing some of their own laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking. Alternately, they’d have to pay something on the order of fair-market value for their servants. This regime is inevitably justified, at whatever volume necessary, same as the aristocrats’ enclosure of Britain, plantation slavery, Jim Crow, and the Indian caste system. Who could object to something so convenient? Save money! Live better!

Christ, Walmart? Ew, we aren’t cheap and sleazy like THAT.

Many of Fancy Nancy’s constituents, then, don’t care if she has a clue what a pound of red potatoes costs or a half gallon of half and half costs at Safeway. Fat Cracka’s Preferred All-American Bitch Thickener happens to cost $4.99 in the big daddy Luzerne carton, and I’m pretty sure they don’t mark it up in the extant quasinormal parts of San Francisco just to be passive-aggressive about commercial rents. Here’s the cool part: Nancy Pelosi cannot conceive of $4.99. A five spot is as utterly inconceivable to her as a hundred million is to normal Americans who do the rush-hour day. I Men’s Warehouse guarantee it, she has no earthly idea of what an amount that small means to 99.9% of Americans, or what it’s worth. She could be whole-ass Captain Phillips abducted onto the Cruise Ship and still draw a blank upon her ransoming.

The leaders of any real political party would notice that it’s an electoral liability to keep an official of her poor character and piss-poor judgment as its most prominent legislative figurehead and caucus whip. Her interminable tenure starts to make sense only in light of the joke that the Democratic Party has made of itself. Would a party delegating its policymaking and communications to rich kids from fancy colleges who have never in their lives wanted for a thing and desperately catering to the overschooled and the overpaid retain a haughty bitch with at least two Bay Area mansions as one of its two most prominent and powerful elected officials? Sure, why the hell not? Would it bristle and seethe at the sight of this woman’s political opponents rudely disrespecting her and questioning her character? /Extremely McCormick and Schmick’s Tableside Voice/ But of course.

Would such a party wonder how on earth there are implacably reactionary Panera customers, or how they could ever keep voting for Republicans? Duh. The fuck else has that swarm of losers ever done?

One look at James Carvile and it’s clear he does gangland hits for the New Orleans mob; that right there is a guy who paves the bayou floor with Associates, and not the kind they hire at Walmart. But that’s why Billary hired him in the first place. They wanted a fighter, and they chose one. He’s a repulsive scumbag who looks like a snake, but he’s weirdly charming: “I’m not gonna name any names, but one of them has the initials Brett Kavanaugh.” The old boy laughs at his own jokes. With material of that caliber, who wouldn’t?

That’s who the Clintons took on and kept around when they were mere yuppies on the make. They’re centimillionaires now, he’s an emeritus with nothing better to do than go on CNN, and in his stead they’ve got a constellation of absolute dipshits in their orbit: Mook, Psaki, Abedin, Nuland, various community trust failchildren (Chelsea? For real?), Parkhomenko. How could Bernie would have competed with any of that? It’s like Michael Jackson hiring Conrad Murray, Cardiologist, as his home drug aide. Back home in Gary he would have gone to some free clinic, for a life expectancy measurable in years, not hours. Anybody that rich is a lodestone for idiotic kissup grifters. More than a few at that level become so insulated, so alienated from the normal experiences of normal people, that they take disastrous sycophants, confidence artists, and charlatans for useful aides, sharp minds who will take them places under their astute guidance. She’s a neurotic, unstable mediocrity, and her husband is Anthony Weiner? Absolutely! Let’s do this!

These grasping shitbirds have inevitably poisoned nerddom for the rest of us. In a normal society, an electoral wonk would be a person with a keen, granular understanding of local political sentiment down to the county level, or at least the multicounty regional level. Instead we get hopelessly befuddled twits like Nate Silver, useless dorks possessed of no idea whatsoever of what’s happening culturally on the ground anywhere between, like, Naperville and Troutdale.

These idiots and their easily hurt colleagues moan that they’re misunderstood, unappreciated, hated, that losers who don’t know a thing have it out for them because they, themselves, are the most knowledgeable people in their fields on the face of the earth. This is self-congratulatory nonsense. For the most part, they’re hated for being loudmouthed know-it-alls who in point of fact know jack shit. Out here in the streets, we hate and resent them because they’re bumptious, arrogant, functionally unemployable, pearl-clutching scolds drawing lavish salaries for lecturing us, payable in Dunning Krugerrands.

Gee, champ, how the fuck do you think that plays in Peoria? Look, I get why the merely schooled and affluent from SuperZIP America didn’t see Trump coming; they weren’t around his base, or at least its out members, and they weren’t around his last-in, first-out swing voters in the Rust Belt. A lot of people on the other side of that gulf can’t see across it the other way, either. What I can’t stand are smug pricks who analyze politics for a living getting caught swimming naked when the tide goes out and then whining about it. Sack up, punk. Intermittent ties to troubled, semi-deindustrialized parts of Oregon and Pennsylvania with right-of-center local politics were enough for me to see Trump coming. I have staunchly pro-life friends, not all of whom voted for Trump, and some of whom can’t stand him, but I didn’t see them breaking for Clinton, and most of them did not. I know people who’ve worked in factories or come from blue-collar industrial families, or both. I was transfixed by parts of the alt-right for years, and I still keep tabs on a few of the less obnoxious alt-right and adjacent platforms, mostly Delicious Tacos and Akinokure. That was an obvious electoral wildcard in 2016. Anybody who was aware of it should have taken it seriously as a political force.

How do I put this indelicately? Yinz pissed a whole lotta folks off; the question wasn’t whether they hated you and your people and everything you assholes stand for, but how many of them exist, and how reliably they vote.

The war of the sexes simmering just under the surface and sputtering over the top every few hours did not provide a good feeling about where the United States was headed, least of all in its politics. Trump masterfully played into it with implicit stands for the dignity of wives and their husbands, mothers and their children, and freedom from that hag who acts just like your shitty boss. Meanwhile Hilldawg kept grandstanding about the glass ceiling. For fuck’s sake, who the hell wanted to listen to another screed about how a chronic adulterer’s wife who’d kept him around to ride his coattails from the White House into the US Senate was “our” #LeanIn #GirlBoss badass, and we were therefore #WithHer? Does it sound like I consider women unfit for the presidency? Fool I voted for Jill Stein. Nobody smeared her for being a women; the lib hive was too busy smearing her as an apostate from their sacred creed.

Holy Moses on a brontosaurus, the hell did that freaky yuppie bitch with the horndog husband have to do with women’s rights? If women are so hated, if there’s such chauvinism or misogyny or whatever we’re calling it about how there’s no place for them in high elected office, what explains the mostly positive public or neutral public feelings about Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Kay Ivey, Debbie Stabenow, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kate Brown, and Susana Martinez? Did You Betcha lose the vice presidency because she was a dingbat and a callow MILF, or did she go back to Alaska and on to cable television because her running mate, the principal on their ticket, was old, kind of disinhibited, and running against a vigorous, nimble-tongued young guy who didn’t express his military and foreign policy goals to the tune of shitty Beach Boys tracks? Did she lose because of what she was (a tax-and-spend moderate who allied with the Democratic caucus to soak the oil companies), or because of what she pretended to be (a fucking wackjob)?

The vain careerist horseshit that liberal (sic) feminists are always banging on about has reasons for appealing to posh broads. It turned out that Trump was much more popular in the provincial suburbs and exurbs than in the hollowed-out urban cores, which Clinton handily won in droves. Voters in the latter don’t much trust the Republican Party, and there’s a good chance they took him for a slippery shyster. These cities have growing Latino populations, heavy on working-class immigrants, constituencies Trump was never likely to do anything but horrify and drive into the opposition’s arms. Conversely, the car dealers and franchisees out in the the charter townships took a liking to the Donald BECAUSE he was their spirit animal in “business.”

But that just explains the party bases, the core constituencies that got them within reach of victory. 2016 was won on the margins in swing states with deindustrialized sacrifice zones. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa were up for grabs. There’s a strong argument that she could have flipped enough of these states to win had she not run such terrible ground campaigns, but candidates with winning personalities and winning platforms need less ground campaigning to win, and that was not what she had in these states.

What she did have was a huge, seething opposition of voters who hated her with an insatiable passion, aggravated by her inability to look the least bit comfortable around people of normal means and her series of insufferably snide comments about conservatives and working stiffs in flyover country. She was going to put the coal miners out of work and back into the basket of deplorables, where they belonged. She and her staff were arrogant enough to think that, already exceptionally hated, she would win over women by being one.

Instead she impressed provincial women that she was a crazy bitch who hated her husband and also hated THEIR husbands. Opps. That might be a widdle fucky-wucky, but nah, let’s scream at Stein voters.

It figures. Those who insist that the blame for losses falls on stupid uppity voters and not on compromised candidates running weak campaigns shouldn’t be expected to field anything less than preening, sneering, out-of-touch centimillionaires who show off their top-of-the-line home freezers full of $12-a-pint ice cream. What else would they do? Give a damn about student debt? And why not be a coddled old harridan who doesn’t know how to turn on the stove or navigate the neighborhood Safeway but has extensive comments about strong women?

Some of these characters are such dipshits that they sincerely wonder why women out in the provinces dislike them. Uh, maybe because some of them are truckers or steelworkers or farmers? I dunno. That was just an idea, based on personal experiences, observations, and testimony arising away from the top of Divisadero; carry on, ladies.

Christian womanhood, motherhood, pro-life agitation, domesticity, and so forth are only partial explanations for why city slicker girlboss horseshit falls flat out in the sticks. It really isn’t that hard to watch or listen to somebody like Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi and think, good grief, there’s an asshole. It isn’t that everyone in the countryside is gung ho about Phillys Schlafly’s hobbyhorses. That’s just an element, and for that matter one that was probably strengthened by the condescending rich girl outbursts from the feminist movement. If we compared the average Eagle Forum member to her granddaughters, we’d probably see a dramatic shift away from sexual chauvinism.

But again, as Jeffrey Epstein said, wood does dat godda do wid dat bitch being a cunt? Not a whole lot, of course. The first lady and the Balitmore mayor’s daughter latched onto the Strong Woman Movement for, eh, maybe as compensation for their own obvious male power hookups. It’s perfectly easy to imagine both of them being insufferable under the auspices of a different, sexually neutral political movement. It’s also exceptionally memorable that Hillz in particular has bitched about feminist shit since at least her husband’s first term in the presidency, and Rush Limbaugh has been  giving himself heart attacks about feminazis for just as long. Fancy Nancy, by contrast, seems mostly to have gone along with the happy horseshit as it congealed into a bigtime Bay Area phenomenon.

I still don’t grok why it’s such a big deal around here: Title IX Sports, the RBG/HRC shelves in our bookstores, all that bollocks. It’s hard to find open misandrists without going hunting in overpriced shitholes, and even there what’s available is mostly just rich bitches. It’s some retarded shit. So are The West Wing and Harry Potter. Take it to the concession hall at the Special Olympics and buy a hot dog to eat with it. There’s nothing wrong with a lunchtime read.

Correction: There’s everything wrong with it and we must subjugate these freaks immediately with 90% marginal rates.

Projecting Hillary Clinton’s bad reputation onto all men for hating all women is like voting against Lynn Swann on account of sexy male nurse Lynn Majors or sexy male code enforcement officer Lynn Rader. I voted against him because all he talked about was Pittsburgh values. I’m pretty sure I voted for Ken Krawchuk that time lol. The thing is, normal people don’t just know serial murderers. It’s not women we hate; it’s Hillary Clinton. It’s not women we hate; it’s Nancy Pelosi.

Yes, Virginia, women can be assholes, too. Say, why you so frigid? Are you a Protestant?

Enough from Brett Kavanaugh. A huge and growing reason why ordinary people revile rich politicians like Clinton and Pelosi is that they’re abnormally rich, don’t know that they are, and can’t be bothered to care. Trump is as popular as he is because he does know. His whole shtick for decades has been look at me, I’m rich. That makes him the closest thing going these days to TR, FDR, and, God help us, Nelson Rockefeller.

The socioeconomic structures of postmodern America encourage this insularity of the rich. Few of them interact much with union members. Bill and Hilary had inmate domestics in Arkansas. It doesn’t help that the country has been bifurcated so between finacialized coasts and a deindustrialized interior. In the midcentury the executives in charge everything from Penn Central to Boeing to US Steel to local independent meatpacking plants had to liaise with the unions who kept their businesses running. What we have for an economy these days is racketeers in the interior hiring wets to get killed dressing hog carcasses for eight bucks an hour while the serious economic activity, as we’re deranged enough to call it, is financial chicanery in the big cities. Gone are the days when Secaucus was the pig town by the big town.

Ordinary Americans know what they’ve lost. They still remember. Even shitty rural elites miss it. It’s just that our national politics are so constrained and distorted that Donald Trump seems the least inchoate way to protest the gutting of American industry and honest labor, the Hail Mary pass that might–just might–fix this shit.

They go for the guy who knows that he doesn’t know what the hell it costs to get a bag of groceries. Or, as the Democrats would have it, they hate women. We just hate strong women. It’s just feminism, Michael. How much could it cost? The economy?

Education special

Back in the late aughts there was a great deal of excited chatter about the MOOC. The massive online open course was basically a 100-level auditorium lecture, but free at the point of service, and on the computer. This fad coincided with the Second Great Depression, a global financial crash, deliberately mislabeled as a recession for propaganda purposes, which had nothing to do with education and everything to do with terrible elite immorality and incompetence. The crash was precipitated by college boys and girls, many of them with degrees in the liberal arts, who were utterly ignorant of the Great Depression. It was proof positive of a collossal international fuckup spanning much of the Global North, and it was strong evidence that education had nothing to do with education, either.

In any event, a bunch of proles looking for the big new thing and the grifters pandering to them salivated at the prospect of a free, zero-barrier college education, spurred by pangs of fear that higher education was becoming completely unaffordable. In truth, it wasn’t college that was unaffordable. What was unaffordable was allowing rich cokeheads off the leash and into positions of financial authority and power. Telling these shysters to drop out of the workforce already and devote themselves full-time to their drugs was too forward–this is America–so they reinvented a mashup of the mail-order audio lecture on the Great Books and the homecoming roundtable.

Detective Munch once took a coffee appreciation course at the Learning Annex; I once listened to George Schultz tell a one-liner joke, as the audience consensus construed it, about how Stanford was practically a subsidiary of corporate high technology. The farthest I ever got with the NYPD was the civil service exam, which was a lot more normal than the officers administering it. Some of us pass the test, for what that’s worth. One of the tests Munch passed had to do with judgment in class enrollment, and our lateral transfer from Balimore had it.

The NYPD doesn’t take lateral transfers, and dear God, Carisi, it doesn’t do 5150’s. If you want to really get your brain into a twist, consider this: Peter Scanavino is from Denver. There’s no need to sit for the exam to know any of this, just the intellectual curiosity of the hardcore barrio-bred cashier at the Steak-n-Shake in Fogelsville who’s jazzed up to talk shop across the counter because “I think they’ve got one in Ohio, too!” They don’t teach this in college. They do teach how to lose all critical thinking ability and then brag to classmates about how one’s alma mater, tried and true and all that other plagiarized pomp and circumstance and shit, taught the critical thinking needed to succeed. It’s fucking baffling. They’re always saying shit like, I didn’t learn how to write until I came to Dickinson. Da fuq? You still can’t.

Some of the more idealistic cynics, like Twitter’s Haircut_Hippie, argue that most people shouldn’t even try. This isn’t a terrible idea. There’s not nearly enough time to read the good writing, so it would be a blessing and a mercy not to weigh it down with piles of shit. It occurs to me, though, that it’s easier to write well about things one finds interesting and germane than it is to respond coherently and artfully to pointless, excruciatingly boring academic prompts. Those of us of a certain class (or theoretically so lol) are expected to jump through these hoops on command under the same defined-period, outrageously expensive institutional auspices where we’re encouraged to cultivate our friends, lovers, spouses, cronies, cult handlers, lives of the mind, purposes in life, and various other good things presumably never again to be so vigorously catalyzed in our lives, but don’t let your GPA drop, kid.

We pay for this? We actually PAY for this? Christ.

As another new decade looms, the Groaning Twenties, we brave the Dread Ailment. Circumstances force us to take our instruction alone and from afar. It’s a beautiful new frontier in learning, a ramshackle, spur-of-the-moment MOOC costing upwards of a hundred dollars a day. The institutions converting so abruptly to this format inevitably include the same ones that don’t advertise their discount fares or offer them without copious paperwork, but which atone by constantly pestering the “members” of their “communities” for tithes and offerings. Ed Burmila is right: the professors are now pretending to instruct, the students are pretending to study, and the schools are not at all pretending to collect tuition.

They don’t news this about, but the big cheeses in Silicon Valley send their children to select, expensive private schools strategically stripped of superfluous advanced gadgets. Technology for thee, but not for me. It’s pretty basic: if you’re slinging crack, you don’t wanna get addicted to crack. I assume they aren’t being told to bushwhack through barely operable computer portals to facilitate their own children’s education, already paid for under contractual terms stipulating in-person professional instruction. /Borat Voice/ My part-time wife is doing exactly this, and guys, this shit is not working. It just isn’t. I believe I could put together a serviceable curriculum in the time she’s spent navigating the portal for her kid’s school and troubleshooting it for other parents. They’re supposed to have fucking staff for this shit. One way or another we’re paying property taxes. Instead they’re dumping batteries of unaided, spottily funded mandates onto individual parents. I completed much of my own schooling before all this gee-whiz Flinstones electronic nonsense, so I know for a fact that there’s no reason they can’t just ship out the books and the assignment packets.

My bad: there’s no operational reason. Profits are being realized. Those realizing them have children enrolled in low-tech Montessori and Waldorf schools tucked away discreetly up the hill from the Bayshore.

Once again I’m all for parents Benedict Optioning their kids out of this pointless mess. They may receive deficient instruction or not learn much from their bespoke homeschooling curricula, but at least they’ll flounder intellectually in ways less aggravating and exhausting for their parents, and as we all know, brick-and-mortar schools are renowned for the spotless absence of academic, social, and behavioral difficulties on the part of their students. The commission here is, we might say, not so great: if you’re down for it, go for it. There’s nothing stopping you if you’ve got the gumption to tell the school board to get fucked. Besides, if you’re reading any of this, I Men’s Warehouse guarantee you that you will not be one of the bad homeschooling parent-instructors.

It seems we’ve got a lot of kids stewing at home this spring and learning jack shit. It’s like school that way, minus the congregate setting. Lose me with the moral panics. Fat Cracka don’t care. My great-aunt, the one who graduated from the eighth grade at the age of 22, received gracious and patient tutoring in astronomy from Staten Island’s premier autodicact, for what John Dennis Diddly that was worth. Some will win, some will lose, some are born to tell the fellow to take the telescope and shove it up his ass. Is astronomy gay? I’m agnostic, but have you tried wrestling? It’s the straightest thing in the Basin if Sunny 107 doesn’t have John Tesh on to talk about traction alopecia from man buns and spin One Direction records.

#IFYL, #TeshTips is a #BigBandStyle disaster, it’s capitalism, and it’s a low-key form of disaster capitalism. Who the fuck would give a shit about that bollocks in a healthy, prosperous, stable society? “Goodness, I only listen for the music.” Music notably excluding Johnny Paycheck, from what I’ve heard. That doofus should be off dropping crank to fuel a ten-piece swing set and dicking MILF groupies, not telling America how to get a job and keep it.

Our Radio Guylander, however, is just an example of the chronic minor inflammation afflicting the body politic. The good shit is landing as we speak. Betsy DeVos is not one to pass up an opportunity to trash stable, functional institutions and their prosperous unionized employees in order to make way for the latest gee-whiz scab racket. The same goofoffs who can’t pay attention to their teachers for two minutes when they’re in the same classroom are totally going to learn and thrive through this new paradigm remote instructional module, because innovation. Her beloved charter schools selectively divert students from their home districts into standalone siloes, the kind of joints where a bumptious thirty-year-old with a TfA stint under her belt and a master’s diploma on the wall is the principal, in the same fashion that the Union Army handed out lieutenants’ commissions to college boys like so many pieces of candy.

Resin up the bow to play the Ken Burns Fiddle Serenade for THAT. Since we’re already shunting kids into dodgy alternative schools, some of them extremely dodgy, and letting their owners operate them as slush funds, why not remove the teachers? Why not set up an understaffed Rube Goldberg portal for office hours and call it instruction? If this were about learning, we’d have public librarians draw up some recommended reading lists and hold down the fort at the desk to counsel those still confused.

But that was never the point. They’re just riding the grift horse again.

The last thing the DeVoses need is more money, so of course this whole thing is a scam designed to enrich them above all else. Hire bargain-basement IT dipshits to run the kludgefest, hire exhausted adjuncts who sleep in their cars to do any teaching (and there doesn’t have to be), set up the chief aides and other cronies with their windfalls, and personally make mad bank. Do welcome the money and the cash. That ass-ugly mansion on the outskirts of Grand Rapids doesn’t pay for itself.

What many liberals get wrong about Betsy DeVos is that she knows nothing about education. The awful truth of it is that she knows a fair bit about education and is passionate about it. Specifically, she’s passionate about all the same dogshit-stupid talking points the most hopeless Republican normies enthusiastically snort straight up their piggy snouts. An apathetic ignoramus would allow institutional inertia to keep the Department of Education going where it’s going, asleep on the bridge of that garbage barge sailing down the Cuyahoga River. DeVos knows what she’s doing. She used to tutor in the public schools in Grand Rapids. Already a billionaire, she took a normally obscure cabinet job at the upper end of the civil service pay scale, a penny-ante gig per se for a woman of her wealth and power. Of course, the salary in these jobs is just a fringe benefit; everybody knows the real money is extrinsic to the earnest Jimmy Stewart on the Hill shit.

The way that woman and her family think society should be run is absolutely fucking insane. DeVos occasionally spirited her most promising tutoring mentees out of the public schools and into the Dutch Reform private system, Ragged Dick-style, but she demanded that they work for it, not just academically, but by cleaning her mansion. Cross-referenced with the bizarre death drive of the hardline Calvinist worldview, it checks out that she’d consider it adequate educational policy to have poor students arbitrarily transferred from the general public school track onto the Christian prep school track just because they happened to have been assigned to her as mentees, and that it’s reasonable to indenture them and their mothers to her as superfluous domestics. It happened, so God knew about it, and God knew about it, so God willed it. The whole thing is a gullible dimwit’s book report on Candide, unfolding in real time with real schoolchildren.

The uncomfortable question that always arises in the aftermath of these gifted student teleportations is what the hell is to be done with or for those Left Behind (TM). We’ve been doing No Child Left Behind (TM) standardized testing for close to two decades now, and the results are still the same: not all children are above average. This produces the scandalous circumstance of certain school districts being ranked at the bottom of the rankings. How could they let that happen? The superintendent knew they were going to be ranked! Shockingly, some teachers in troubled districts help their students cheat on the ranking and proficiency exams: same thing the cool kids do in Corona Del Mar, just for the general and vo-tech tracks, the losers who’ve never heard of “reach” and “safety” schools. Robert Sanchez should reach for the emergency brake right now and stop this train in the interest of passenger and crew safety.

What? Was that a stupid thing to repeat? Compared to what? Dipshits who are stunned that the same districts in an increasingly immobile and sclerotic society keep performing at the bottom on tests that are specifically designed to rank districts? Goodness, how does this do-or-die competition keep producing losers?

In Pennsylvania, a perennial contender for last place is the York City School District. 501st out of 501. They’re all supposed to be above-average. Why isn’t is above-average? I take a quick sober look around town and can say exactly why. They ring-fenced the Great Migration ghettosiders, the Boricuas, and the Great Value Crackers into the municipality with the lead paint instead of the tax bases, where their kids are raised in chaotic homes without enough food. Groovy shit. Somehow this yields lower standardized test scores than Dover and CB East. How bow dah, Bregoli.

I’ve got the answers. This isn’t a great mystery. But how the fuck do I explain it to property-owning normies? They ask questions they don’t want answered, and the questions are retarded, so the answers are also retarded. The proximal fixes are pretty straightforward: beef up funding and instruction for YCSD and eliminate the tests. You know, do shit instead of constantly measuring it and talking about it. Come to understand, somehow, that some teams don’t make it to the Super Bowl.

The distal solutions aren’t so hard, either: make it so it isn’t the end of the world if a kid is a late bloomer, a jagoff, or just real slow. They’ve still got HACC and Millersville, right? Except maybe they’ll take fewer reverse-commute shifts at Panera if the rules of the game are relaxed. Who knows if it’s good, or if it’s wack? We might have to wait another five or ten for an overpriced bougie sammich because the training and management in the back of the house are as appalling as the clip art on the walls in the front. We might have to go home and make our own really shitty French onion soup. When we hear boosters earnestly saying that Inner Harbor and Camden Yards are the economic engines of Baltimore, it starts to seem like there’s no good reason to stay in school, or at least to do anything there but socialize. Either you’re part of the big club and you ain’t in it, or you’re slaving away for a pittance in the clubhouse.

Call me when they’re running a real economy again. They aren’t entirely jackin” it at Inner Harbor, but they’re sure trying. As they say on NPR, Here and Now’s Peter O’Dowd visits three piles of trash in Baltimore. Listen, I’m the last one to shade any of that, but all it amounted to was a skeleton crew at the incinerator, some dump truck drivers, and a neighborhood guy running the compost pile at a community garden in the outer part of the inner city. Otherwise they’re trying to fix the ghetto with some dead-end food service jobs on the deindustrialized waterfront that involve a whole lot of weird racialized socioeconomic shit from Whitey from the County. This is exactly what we get for being a society run by navelgazing idiots who can’t do rough mental arithmetic using factors of ten.

Huh. I thought that was supposed to be on the math test.

Remedying any or all of this might be expensive, as opposed to the DeVoses’ obscene compounds. Many graduates of our most lavishly funded, highly regarded schools truly do not understand that Jeff Bezos is worth a lot more than their dentist. Perhaps you understand now why I declined to call these schools our best. That said, schools are an expedient turnkey way to keep our young people, and our young at heart, from doing whatever else they might be doing.

It turns out that teaching, counseling, coaching, mentoring, socializing, and otherwise occupying a good third of the American population is expensive. If we know anything about the most deranged Dutch Reform shitheads in Southwestern Michigan, it’s that they’re cheap. They aren’t Book Jew cheap, either, like, I went over to the takeout place at Seventy-First and Eighth, but you wouldn’t believe it, they’re charging $7.50 for a half a dozen pot stickers, so I just got the pork chow mein. That shit’s all right, the chow mein and the decisionmaking. The DeVos clan all insist on ruling. Erik Prince just has to be a mercenary meathead who kills disfavored factions of Middle Easterners for their oil and minerals. The DeVos family has to preside over a multilevel marketing empire, collecting the tribute that is their due for being at the top of every upline every time some submissive schmuck from church sells a bottle of stovetop cleaner. Betsy has to make scholarship students clean her fucking house. I want that self-righteous bitch to answer me: what in all hell is wrong with more clutter and grime, or with less house? She’s a megalomaniac, and she’s also a miserable cunt.

These fuckers obviously don’t want to work for a living. They wouldn’t be joining armed raiding parties or running the most notorious MLM racket in the country, and maybe the world, if they did. Do they really think a Chicano kid from the wrong side of the tracks hasn’t heard of the idea of getting a job? And why does the job have to be for her benefactress? This arrangement is feudal. A woman with an estate that would astound most medieval kings has members of a family already overloaded with other duties perform domestic tribute on her mansion, which is one of many her family own in various places. This shit ain’t about self-reliance, which Betsy could model by doing her own damn cleaning, allowing her scholarship beneficiaries to do something actually worthwhile, like just study.

Southwestern Michigan is one of the most mental places in the country. Parts of Grand Rapids proper aren’t too bad, but the region is a clusterfuck. The DeVoses have more living and recreational space than they could possibly use, and meanwhile there are places half an hour away where the government is unable to maintain the roads. The local factory owners discovered early on that the Dutch, and the Dutch alone, were eager to cross picket lines and get to work. They like this: it was easier to have a conference of dour preachers boss them around on capital’s behalf than to dispatch Pinkertons to beat the shit out of Pollacks.

This culture is unrecognizable to the actual Dutch from the original Holland. The Dutch Dutch, historically liberal on the whole, mostly stayed that way, developing an impressive variety of productive indusries run by competent but assertive workers and an off-the-clock culture with a strong respect for individual liberty. The Michigan Dutch mutated into grandstanding managerial-class busybodies whose children play heaven. I’m not making that up. There are families in Ottawa County whose children play heaven.

Thank God my Michigan relatives are in Ann Arbor. Say what you will about the dueling anti-deer cull activist groups or the bougie business enclosure efforts; at least they aren’t a gaggle of the most impossibly preoccupied mummers blustering about a handful of out-of-context biblical passages and reveling in their own utter alienation from the natural world–creation, as some of us sometimes call it. Of course the Southwesterner zealots revile the Southeast’s raucous pagan-Catholic syncretic spirituality, with its sense of the meeting that, whatever the religious authorities say, the high holiday of Halloween is the capstone of the most important season, the Fall. Expose a kid to that and she might learn the wrong things about death, but also about life, and Walt Kowalski, and 28-year-old virgins who hold the hands of old ladies and promise them an eternity, and bequeathing the Gran Torino to the gook because he’s a friend now and God knows who else will take care of that poor Lab, and light? I’ve got a light.

Can’t have the little ones imagining that there’s a ghost inside that pumpkin. It’s of the Devil, just like praying for, or more often to, St. Richard Russell. Chill, bruh, I’m not saying he’s your intercessor. I’m not trying to monopolize Beebo, either, but if I’m bashful about disclosing my private litany of saints to my fellow Catholics when the first thing they say about their grandmothers is that they’re their intercessors, I suppose I’ll keep it close to the vest around hardline Calvinists of the sort who approve of summary bathtub baptisms.

The dude who made me that offer was a cradle Catholic. Go figure. Five Points, man. Talk about a religion for engineers. You know, just a little something to keep in mind in case militant Wahhabism isn’t working out so great. That one lady gave Mr. Explodeypants a Rosary and a Bible at his sentencing, I recall. I just get a not so good feeling about how he’ll use either of them, especially the one with the words. And we know all too well the characters who proselytize in prisons and around the Air Force Academy.

#KeepClimbing

Hey, a foreign US intelligence asset may have good professional reasons for learning how to follow but not waive the rules before he has bad ideological reasons. The DeVoses and associates don’t even learn how to keep buildings from falling down or anything like that by being horny for rules. It’s because taking the neighborhood mindset to engineering school would be too honest and require too much work. The incentives to have tangible skills at all at their station in life are nonexistent. It would just result in some dumb bastard doing the work the servants were hired to do.

Wack-ass Calvinism is in no way fundamental to becoming or being a billionaire. For the DeVoses, however, it coheres all too neatly. It’s some bad, bad shit. I can’t stand Warren Buffett on his own, but if these asshats are the alternative? Roll that beautiful Brokaw footage. The average billionaire is all like, I have the money so fuck you is why you work for me. These ghouls have an elaborate religious theology justifying their privileges as the lords and ladies of their manor empire and the apex predators at Amway. John Calvin had a less scatalogical but more disturbed dispute with the Catholic Church at a time when the latter was extra corrupt, and here we are half a millennium later, watching his adherents justify their own wanton predation and corruption in the name of his austere theology.

In case that isn’t funny enough, they’re doing it all under the ethnic auspices of the same nation that was too liberal for the Mayflower party. Mamma mia it is a blanda mushy pea! African-Americans often rue, and quite reasonably so, that they’re so deracinated from the Motherland, that they hit dead ends every time they try to trace their ancestries. We’ve traced some of our own family trees back into the 17th century, and these seem like good things to be able to learn, so I don’t want to make light of people with a similar interest in their ancestries hitting brick walls at Emancipation. Seeing what certain white people do with their old-country ties to Europe, however, makes the whole endeavor seem absurd. Italian identity is being a territorial paranoiac. Irish identity is being a belligerent territorial drunk. Scotch identity is a marginally more sober highland brawling thang. #PureMichigan Dutch identity is all about using personal religious zealotry as a cudgel to beat public policy until it conforms to the ideological will of one’s congregation.

It’s foolish to expect cultural stasis lasting centuries, but the examples above involve divergences running from the significant to the unrecognizable. It doesn’t help that Americans spend more time listening to crude ethnic marketing kitsch and the grandstading of the most obnoxious local ethnic representatives than they spend socializing with foreigners from the countries of origin in question. Pelosi? Snucchi? La Situazione? Eyyy, Guido, it ain’t a so autentico a meataball, #EY! I’m not just shitposting, though: I’m far from convinced that any of the three know anything materially true and useful about Italy.

God knows they’re solipsistic enough to be Americans.

That cold detachment

Eyyy, Fancy Nancy, she like a de gelati, #EY! And Mamma Mia, it is a slimy Isa Cream!

We can hardly even score a fun Eye Tie for these gigs. We’ve got Schumer, and we’ve got Cuomo–two of them, Christ–and fucka me Chucka, dats all we gots. Lawdy Mista Rosavelta, dissa coulda beaner D’Abilli Joel, but day plane, Frankie, day plane.

Some accuse Bernard of the Brothers of carpetbagging. I figure that move to Vermont was just cultural assortation. It’s never the aggro Money Jews who move north from the city full-time; it’s the principled Book Jews, the ones who are from the Outer Boroughs and aren’t ashamed of it, and by Bob Moses that train was leaving the freshly remodeled Penn Station with or without him.

We might figure there’d be some old-line Genovese or Turiners in North Beach, maybe even some Arab Southerners in the Excelsior or what have we, who could have claimed that wop slot first. We’d figure wrong. A little upwardly mobile Irish something-something happened to Moscone and Milk back at the zenith of the Great Compression, and you can betcher racially ambiguous Wasilla ass we didn’t get one of the good Jews out of that deal, either.

Look, I’m not up on my high horse here grandstanding about how I’m a cracker crossbreed Catholic. That’s for the Baltimore mayor’s daughter to do, As An Italian. So was Gramsci, bitch.

The Pelosi Ice Cream Controversy is petty, but it’s revealing. The Marie Antoinette energy is strong in that one. The whole episode is emblematic of postmodern American politics as celebrity.  These aren’t public servants; they’re celebrity divas. The public service they do perform is incidental to their privilege. They have to perform some local constituent services to hold their seats, because at some point even their cult diehards will start to wonder what the hell they’re doing on Capitol Hill if they don’t, but in the grand scheme we’re all constituents of Congress, and as guardians of the national commonweal most of them, Nancy Pelosi included, are disastrous.

It stands out that these crooks never socialize with anybody who understands how ordinary Americans live or has the courage to tell them. It’s of a piece with the unmooring from reality of our elites across the board. The people behind our television entertainment have little ability to tell the stories of ordinary Americans and practically none to design a sitcom set resembling an average American house or neighborhood. Newspaper reporters and staffers in the seats of our governments come more and more from the upper middle and upper classes. Elected officials at the state level are consistently statistically or functionally multimillionaires; at the federal level they’re either multimillionaires who live and think like centimillionaires or centimillionaires who live and think like billionaires.

Christopher Lasch’s revolt of the elites framework was overwrought in its emphasis on the secular liberalism of the upstart elites rising in the late midcentury; loud religious piety and cultural conservatism have long been more of a middle- to upper-middle-class hobbyhorse than generally framed for normcore consumption, and less of a fundamental value set of the lower classes, although the regional and local nuances are worth keeping in mind. Lasch’s overarching model, however, wasn’t just perceptive. It was prescient. This was especially true of the socioeconomic aspects of his framework, which he sketched out ably, although lightly and as part of a distracting effort to integrate them into a grand model of decadence, alienation from workaday life, and hardening arrogance.

The guy had his odd fixations, but he was a fucking prophet. He still is, really. There is simply no way that a rich, pampered socialite like Nancy Pelosi will allow her descendants to plummet into the mere middle class in her lifetime, unless they seek out a middling station of life and refuse her help. A descent into the lower class is something that would take them a heroic effort. Even if they choose to live frugally and shabbily, their parents and grandparents will be there to bail them out of the legal consequences of any addictions they indulge, or at the very least to blunt the ill effects. They know how to find top-notch criminal defense attorneys and can easily afford legal fees. They’re able and generally willing to bribe police departments and prosecutors’ offices. They keep and curate their blackmail files. Maybe the Chief is a sexual deviant who studied for his psych exams; a fellow couldn’t brame him for that. Maybe the DA is a psychopath who abuses her help. To be clear, this is not the Bill Scott energy, but that is the Kamala Harris energy. Remember, Dick Pic Tony dindu nun wah Denny Dundiddly dun. As far as we know, in any event. No homo, we just like to roll around on the mat and grab our fellows’ asses, but Carolina Jailbait knew his deal when she reached out to him, here, , On Line. They say Diddlin’ Dennis did it to straight dudes, too, though. Put it in, Coach!

This is just a fun scenic detour, a Taconic State Parkway of perversion. Listen, young lady, you shouldn’t let just any old guy run his Taconic peak down your professionally mowed parkway. I don’t figure it was a good idea to publish that, but it was an idea. Most of y’all are still stopping by for Dubai Porta Potty and the Levinian dude looks like a lady of the uncanny valley shit, right? Just thot I’d check. The sex is always more fun than the budgeting, but that’s just for us little people, ain’t it, Leona. Fancy Nancy, that girl can budget. It’s easier with reserves and credit lines. $190k down the drain for poker, or maybe to pay to poke her, or for a gentleman to powder his nose, or for shit even I am of no mind to mention, or, goodness, it must have been for the National Pastime, was no problem for Brett Michael. They’ve got friends. They’ve got associates.

They get their parents or family cronies to set them up with patent sinecures on command. The sky’s the limit on the bullshit make-work. NBC paid Chelsea Clinton a “salary” on the order of half a million dollars to show up at the office if she felt like it and pretend that she was employable. She quit this job to do “charitable” and other foundation “work” and get brownnosed by family scholars on retainer to reassure her that she knows all about executive function and therefore isn’t a useless idiot.

There’s a litany of repulsively sleazy grifts the Trump family organization has run–for a general hint, consider that they’re openly described as a family organization–but reestablishing Florentine Renaissance family patronage in the arts for the degraded purpose of making the family regressions to the mean sound educated is not one of them. Eric Trump’s selling points do not include the transcendence of mental retardation.

A survey of twenty-first century academia and publishing indicates that it’s impossible to make a living as a reputable writer or academic in the humanities, the arts, or the soft sciences, but there are depressingly numerous openings in marketing, including those devoted to burnishing the reputations of politically connected dimwits as intellectual visionaries. Kissing Chelsea’s ass in the name of intellectual vigor is night-and-day worse, intellectually, than anything Steve Bannon has done as a public intellectual adjacent to political power. Bannon is a dissipated alcoholic polymath who took the Third Successive Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions on as his political fighter, then the Oaf of Office, and before long got turfed out, on the path of so many colleagues, for crossing his messy bitch from Queens who lives for drama. Nothing But Respect For A Thick Moist One. These guys are wrecks, but against the odds they’re humble wrecks.

Joe Biden has a different but even worse liability. He has himself a Hunter problem. There’s old Joe, wouldja just look at him, doing the yeoman wonk’s work for his humble Senator’s salary, living in his corrupt yet inexpensive second First State, keeping his net worth down, and well shucks, don’tcha know, his boy got discharged from the service over drugs and picked up a job on the board of a foreign oil company. The whiff wafting off this scene sticks. The Democrats spent four decades cultivating Uncle Joe and his colleagues as serious, upstanding technocrats, and now, as it emerges by the week that their golden boy of the year is not only a handsy hair-sniffer and reactionary extremist but also apparently a rapist and progressively senile, they’re whining at the top of their lungs that it’s unfair. It’s unfair for Trump to get a pass for doing the same shit. It’s unfair for Trump to hypocritically accuse Biden of doing the same sleazy and predatory things he’s done himself.

Beanbag come to mind as a wholesome, fair game. Anybody who’s so much as observed Capitol Hill as a rank amateur should know better than to expect one of the most boisterously outrageous celebrities in the country to go easy on a scandal-plagued opponent who is actively angering a good half or more of his own party’s nominal coalition by being a reactionary ratfucker and is truly losing his damn mind in real time. Trump’s key tactical strength here isn’t that he’s shameless, but that he’s shrewd and astute. The shrill charges of hypocrisy ring hollow. The Trumps and their Business Success Associates relish their own corruption. Burisma? Of course I would have put Junior or my hot daughter or the blond retard on the board; we were just busy with a bunch of other scams. It isn’t the hustle the Donald disrespects; it’s the whiny hypocrisy, the nerve of the sleazeballs opposite him to cry out for the mods to stop him from doing the shit they’re doing, too.

Of course the Democrats aren’t actually interested in playing beanbag for a living. They’re dirty as hell, and they have the nerve to add insult to injury by bitching and moaning about how they keep getting done dirty. We hear endless scolding about how Trump is unqualified for his office. Everyone sniveling about that needs to shut up and read the Constitution. Donald John Trump was a natural-born citizen over the age of 35 at the time of his inauguration. He’s full-stop 100% qualified. What the Democrats actually mean is that they dislike him. They resent him for not paying his dues inside the Beltway. They resent him for not kissing the rings, i.e., for exactly the shit that ordinary voters in the provinces cannot fucking stand and exactly the shit the candidates pandering to them make a show of not doing.

As we’ve reviewed before, too extensively, the Democrats had copious grounds, as they say in Detroit, to impeach the motherfucker, but instead of making a strong case proving that he was heinous, they slow-walked the process, then got horny for rules and droned on about a mishmash of incomprehensible diplomatic points of order having to do with foreign lands where our government was unwisely entangled. James Madison isn’t here to chide them for reverting to a lower old-country parliamentary threshold for shitcanning the bastard, or to have his fellow human beings whipped to death for being too slow picking tobacco. They could have told him, all right, asshole, you’ve been inciting pogroms and sending people into our chambers to shit on us, and you’re leaving town. Go to your branded hotel down the street if you want, but you’re evicted. You’re #fired.

It would have been muscular, mature, and sensible. Of course they fucking didn’t do it.

Unless they change horses midcharge–another thing that might well make too much sense to consider–we’re only in the early stages of watching that hated oaf curbstomp their new mush-for-brains standardbearer. More assuredly than that we’ve got at least another seven months of sputtering grievances about how the Party is being unfairly denied the very things it has done everything in its power not to earn. The assholes can’t help themselves. They just have to shit on core constituencies for being uppity and scream at them, demanding their votes.

Fool I ain’t in dawg. The constant weaponization of privilege wore out its novelty years ago. There’s no shortage of us who are terminally sick of hearing from ungodly rich thieves and parasitic sinecure holders that we have to check our privilege while we live, out of sheer necessity, in some version or other of the real world. Is it possible to live at the top of Divisadero, own a large vineyard on prime Napa Valley bottomland, and not be a shithead?

Democratic Party politics are a scheme for posh miserable cunts to gaslight their socioeconomic inferiors into indulging in psychotic parasocial relationships with treacherous elected officials. That was the point of the ice cream horseshit. Fancy Nancy and Gropey Joe have known each other in real life for decades, and they still carry on a bizarre parasocial relationship over Twitter, pour l’encouragement des autres. They probably have their People do the grunt work (Trump does much of his own poasting), but that’s beside the point. Any reputable politician who saw that kind of belittling Marie Antoinette preening on an official campaign channel would fire the comms staffer who posted it.

The Democratic Party has pushed its way into a state of decadence and hubris so extreme that Bernie Sanders was its only viable candidate for the presidency who lived at all deeply in the real world. Warren came close, depending on what we’re calling close. The clown car hangers-on who managed to live likewise abroad from the Land of Make-Believe were a strange bunch: the steady-as-she-goes normcore Castro, the postmodern economics nerd Yang, the deceptively astute activist moneybags Steyer (who had actually put in serious ground work, in person, in South Carolina, for years), the unabashedly syncretistic spiritual guide Williamson, opening for us all the portal into an astral overworld we dared not imagine. She said it herself: we’re uncomfortable here because we’re not from here. It just goes to show, we never know who will crash in from the New Age book circuit out of the blue and effortlessly explain Washington.

The rest of them are cultists who project their rank cultism onto Bernie and his bros of all sexes. They expect us to relate to them because they keep expensive ice cream in extremely expensive freezers. Bitch who the hell is us? The fuck do these supercilious scumbags have in common with us, and what in God’s name do they have to offer us? Nancy’s record is really bad, and Joe’s is atrocious. Do they seriously think that posting that twee, preening, self-congratulatory shit about one another’s excellent domestic taste makes it a good time to have a neck?

Leaving that aside in the basket (how deplorable!), their domain is what might be called war by other means. What, pray tell, is it good for? Not a hell of a lot, it seems, the way they’re waging it. It is categorically, statistcally false that not voting is a privilege, or that voting third-party is a privilege. Fuck outta here. The median voter hardly ever votes. Maybe 1% of Americans could say who Jill Stein is. Once again, they mean something ridiculously different. They mean that it’s a privilege, but really an offense, not to vote as they dictate. How does that fucking work? It takes some combination of high ascribed class and high attained class to be exposed to their talking points in the first place; the poor figure they’re all bastards anyway, except for Bernie. We like Uncle Bernie. Is it a privilege not to drink Shoko Asahara’s bathwater? He surrounded himself with medical doctors and (why am I not surprised?) chemists and engineers, and he charged by the jar, so I don’t think so.

The freak with the rallies and the shouting fits and the inept spray-on tan and the empire of resort properties and wearable merch branded in his own family name is running the LESS cultlike presidential campaign. The loudmouthed conservative is tacking to the left of the loudmothed liberal, as he’s been doing on the spur of the moment for his entire career as a serious politician. What am I supposed to believe: the pronouncements of professional idiots who keep getting it totally wrong, or my own lying eyes? These are parochial concerns for the Parish of One, perhaps, but the average dipshit knows that the personal is the political. Bougie Democrats and the political types catering to them sure know how to make things that aren’t even about them personal, just as much as they know how to cause gratuitous personal offense to downwardly mobile losers like me. It’s that cult programming again. Scientology doesn’t appreciate it when members break out of the compound, either. Shoko doesn’t want the supplicants demanding better than boiled vegetables. Sarinday, in the park, I think it was the Cough of Oh My, here comes that gassy day feeling again.

You float?

By the way, and I am not imagining this or bluffing, I am on the moderate end of escapees from the Democratic Rez. I’ve been homeless, and I’ve nearly been the victim of domestic violence, but there’s a whole world of hurt out there that I haven’t suffered, and I’m grateful. To wax rhretorical and passive-aggressive, do yinz want me voting against your bullshit politicians, or should I not vote at all? I’m residually clubbable enough, and whatever else, to still believe in electoral politics, in fact, fiercely so. I’m not a Bernie-or-bust diehard, either: I’ve been listening to some of the daily broadcasts of the Gavin Gabbin’, the discourses about old African proverbs relevant to the State, not only of California, and as much as I love to fun the guy, if they swap Nob Hill Dreamboat in for First State Brain Pudding, I’ll be on board. Believe me, I am not siding with Trump because I don’t want to cut the bullshit, but because I do.

This is a specific preference. GTFO with the Blue No Matter Who extortion. Christ alive, can these asshats not recognize a cult tactic when they’re swinging it around like LBJ’s schlong? I suppose [Sean Connery voish] the firscht rule of Shite Club izh shy lensch, but some of these cases may actually be too stupid to see what they’re doing. The real world is not their scene. It may well be easier, for the dissociative, to disscociate from the moral horrors facilitating their own secure, luxurious lives.

It’s striking that so many of the Blue No Matter Who scolds, as well as so many of the upmarket core MAGA crowd, presume it right and just that a bottomless servant class exists to materialize at their command out of the ether to wait on them, then vanish back into thin air upon the completion of their appointed tasks, like so many ghosts. Like hell am I the privileged one in this scenario; I don’t use those platforms. I’ve never signed up. Then there’s the homelessness crisis, which intersects with the gig economy in a pretty big way, and which Bougiekistan refuses to confront. Gavin seems to care, but Nancy? Lol. Kamala? We’ve seen what she does to prisoners, another disproportionately homeless group. Think of it as a rapid rehousing program.

San Franciscans and Californians keep these creeps in power because they terrorize the poor. Even Newsom is too politic to rock the boat enough for them to notice without a compelling cause. This, I fear, is the horror show Democratic strategists are getting at when they insist on reaching out to disaffected suburban Republicans. Kamala Harris is a Deukmejian-Wilson Republican minus the charm, but the property owners around here have gotten all squeamish about out Republicans, so they flee for protection to the closet cases.

It’s even grosser. Deukmejian and Wilson were vicious, but they were grown-ups. They were honest about what they were selling. A lot of it was death and terror, but they weren’t squirrelly. The heavily Democratic extreme right in California today is too disingenuous, for the most part, to admit that it despises the poor, the incarcerated, and the otherwise marginalized. We’re good liberals, you see. That’s why we vote for the great incoherent liberalism of London Breed, the greater incoherence of Fancy Nancy and DiFi, whatever the hell other than criminal aggression explains Ernesto Olivares, and the incomprehensible incoherence of Kamala Harris. The last two are cops, and the former got a uniform for his trouble.

If Democratic electorates are voting for these creeps and sleazeballs, that says something about the Democratic Party and its voters. It fits together too snugly with the decadent, morally insenate antics of YouTubers in Venice Beach and the pathetic dipshit proposal to win back the US House by appealing to Panera Democrats. Straight from the mouth of National Oracle Crystal Harris: fun stuff for me, adult stuff for thee. Sitting around in Panera and posting about masturbatory West Wing fantasies on a laptop? Fun stuff. Grance halls? Union halls? Factory floors? Picket lines? Not fun stuff. Driving for Uber, as opposed to telling others to drive for Uber? Hell no.

Crystal barely knew who Barack Obama was when Hef took her along to chat with Larry King, and she’s one of the better Harrises.

I can’t imagine why they keep getting thumped at the polls. Shucks, they’re all just Mr. Smith going to Washington, to militate for the stupidest, blindest, prissiest, most disingenuous aristocratic wannabes on the planet. Let’s go scare up some amoral social climbers in Alpharetta and Granite Bay and wherever and see if they wouldn’t rather vote for a team of perennial losers instead. Once we’ve done that, let’s go scream bloody murder at college-educated dead-enders with six-figure debt loads and retail jobs about how they’re apostates.

Eyy, signora, maybe there’s a reason why we ain’t a so heppy widda Mista Giuseppe, #EY! My bad: we’re respectable, devout Italian Catholics. Kyrie eleison from the Geary Expressway to Highway 29 all the godforsaken live-long night.

If you don’t mind death

That’s a fascinating viewpoint. What I want to know is this: what if you do?

Donald Trump said that in a moment in which he was possessed of Ricky Ray Rector’s understanding of death. I do not mean to shitpost here or make fun of him. This is precisely, descriptively, functionally, literally what Rector was thinking when he scored his A+ on the Marshmallow Test by saving his pie for afterwards. Scout’s Honor I am not trying to fun the Donald, not this time. Our metaphysically challenge executive friend here is the head of state and government in the sole extant global imperial power, if we still wish to exclude the infrastructure diplomacy of Red China. Ricky Ray got the launch codes this time. It’s obviously hilarious, too, a good cause for ridicule, but ooh boy.

South Park bizarroworld though that stream-of-consciousness (unconsciousness?) was, it’s basically the Beltway consensus of the two major parties, artlessly stripped of its traditional and customary paint job. The state and local parties push the same heinous shit, of course, with some merciful deviations but not many. It’s an awesomely bipartisan praxis. The two parties play bad cop-worse cop in this vicious game, Brentwood Mark Fuhrman as the foil for Homan Square Jon Burge.

Trump, at once to his credit and his discredit, was in no way mentally awake enough to be morally crooked, as we might tell Chester if he field our legs. There’s no way his saying that was immoral or even amoral, let alone heinous; it was too thoroughly fucking retarded. There was no moral, philosophical, metaphysical, or other form of thought of de minimis maturity. He blurted that out in the course of a quick dive into the infinite void of his own mind, like, if you don’t mind spending an extra buck on the Impossible Whopper, or being killed by this plague I’m not really bringing under control.

Since we’re on the topic, but barely, we might assume, under more normal political circumstances, that his throwaway comment about death would be impossible, but either way, it’s no whopper. To lie, gaslight, push the Overton Window, or even just deliberately bullshit, a person has to be at least vaguely aware of what’s under discussion at the moment. Trump was when he bragged about being able to walk outside and shoot somebody in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue. This was something else entirely. Fifth Avenue? That’s a nice candy bar, a phenomenal candy bar, if you don’t mind it, or maybe you like animal crackers. We love our animal crackers, don’t we. Pecan pie. We love our pecan pie, too, and as long as you don’t let the flies get to it, it keeps.

It was jarring and at the same time refreshing, even encouraging, to find a politician talking about death with absolutely no concept of death. Trump’s colleagues damn well understand death. They may not think about it deeply, or seriously, or reverently, but they understand it adequately to rest assured that Ricky won’t be coming back for dessert. These are heinous monsters who casually order the annihilation of people they dislike and then publicly revel in it. Trump does that, too, although less consistently. Does he do anything consistently? Fucker has the attention span of a squirrel on crank.

The reason he mentioned not minding death was that he’s been bombarded in recent weeks with reports and projections of death. Talk of death flooded his field of vision. It filled his ears and washed through his mind. Free-associatively regurgitating it on camera was the same monkey-hear monkey-do topical freestyling he always does about whatever combination of news. Fox News, back-of-the-house whispers from the clashing factions of court Rasputins, and other physically repeatable noise he’s been hearing on a regular basis over the past thirty seconds to twelve hours. He’s one of the crudest, most impulsive, most distractable public figures we’ve had the honor of being able to watch in recent years. If he liked the idea of mass constituent deaths, the Oaf of Office would have said something to that effect. He would have expressed noticeable hatred or contempt or condescension, or something. His comments in this case were casual because his thoughts were casual.

Geez, I think. Who knows? For all I know he was repeating heinous disregard or contempt for human life that he’d been hearing from aides or appointees. This is not a guy you turn to to keep a secret.

I don’t think. It sure sounded like the flippant, thoughtless meme of killing Kenny again. Obviously that isn’t death in any normal sense. It’s an absurdist gag, the kind of thing that’s impossible not to get for anyone who isn’t utterly deranged or mentally retarded enough for Bill Clinton to order exterminated from the face of the earth, to touch at last the face of God and see if there isn’t pie in that part of the sky.

*****

Dude’s Ash Wednesday sermons must be fucking LIT. Death. A lot of people are talking about it. They’re talking about smearing ash all over your forehead so you look like a loser, when you could be out eating KFC and Cinnabon. They say people die a lot. You hate to hear it.

They killed God. Can you believe it? They killed God. Grabbed the guy, beat the shit out of him, put him up on a cross. God. They killed God. You wouldn’t think they could do that, but they did it. They killed him.

You wouldn’t believe it, this general came up to me. Simon Peterson, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Salvation Army. And this general, General Peterson, he told me, sir, that’s unacceptable. We can’t let them just go and kill God, We gotta do something about it, sir. We had to do something about it.

And you know what? They did something about it. General Peterson? General Peterson told me, sir, that was bullshit, sir. That’s bullshit. We can’t let them do that, sir. We have to do something about it. And he was right. I told him, you’re right, Simon. That’s bullshit. Dirty, dirty cops. Pontius Pilate, the centurions, all dirty, dirty cops. They’re all dirty cops. Comey? He killed God. Tried to crucify #MeToo.

It’s phenomenal what Simon told me. He told me, sir, he broke out. He called Satan a loser and a hater and he broke right out of hell, sir. That son of a bitch, he was outta there. Killed him Friday and Sunday morning he was gone. Can you believe it? Three days of dirty cops and their bullshit, and that was all he could take.

And I told General Peterson, that’s only two days. Friday they kill him, Saturday he’s down there, and Sunday, he’s outta there, see ya. And Simon, Simon told me, yes, sir, you’re right sir, Jesus couldn’t stand John Dingell. So two days. Two days and he was gone. And Cardinal Dolan told me, you know what Cardinal Dolan told me? He told me, sir, we have a Saturday night service we call the Vigil Mass. The vigil. The vigil.

Day and a half tops. They kill God and he’s dead only a day and a half. Phenomenal. Stretched it out to three days for the ratings, but day and a half, folks. Day and a half. We love God. We love to hear that. We love God, folks. I love the Hindu!

*****

That was, of course, a culturally Protestant retelling. Cultural Protestantism is most of what we get in the way of presidents, although we did give Jimmy Carter a try that one time. No, I don’t feel like explaining it, and no, I don’t figure it’s something you can look up. Think about it.

Just think about it. Give it some thot, Jack. Up against the wall, signora, if you have five minutes. His Vigor, Chappaquiddick Cool Change, and Good God, y’all, Fancy Nancy: all confessed Catholics, although best I can tell not privately confessed lol. There’s been a great deal of chatter about Francis decreeing Protestantism by dispensing the Catholic faithful from the normal Lenten obligation of the Sacrament of Penance this year–feel free to call God anytime if that’s what it takes, like we’re all about to head up to Geneva to head-off Calvin’s kin for fornication, or to Wurzburg to fart back in Luther’s face–but that’s just what the Pope does when he does mind death. You might mind it, you might not mind it, you might not be able to explain what the hell it is, and if you have command over the world’s largest nuclear missile arsenal you might not be able to come close.

Hey, kids, launch officer is a great career, if you don’t mind living in a basement in North Dakota and shitting in plastic bags. Great bosses, too, if you don’t mind them.

Just remember: Pete Wilson and Bill Clinton are notable examples what we get when we elect leaders who mind death. There’s no relishing it without minding it. As Dan Quayle said at a United Negro College Fund banquet, perhaps apocryphally, it’s a terrible thing to lose your mind, or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.

Mind you, I’m not always subsumed in this quality of extreme retardation, just often, because this is America. Early in the American chapter of the pandemic, as shit was starting to get real enough for quarantine zones and shelter-in-place orders, I talked with my youth minister friend. He told me about something he’d heard from a colleague, in reference to the cancellation of public masses, likely well into Easter. She pointed out that the only day of the year when the faithful are not allowed to receive the Eucharist is Good Friday. The weekend is nigh upon us, and I encourage you all to have one. Her point, since she had one–look, I don’t ask you for money, and most of you don’t ask for anything more than Dubai Porta Potty–her point was that this Lent and Easter may be an extended Good Friday for the Christian faithful, and we ought to be receptive to the grace that may come from it.

Once again, what you think about it depends on how much–nay, if, you mind it. Fucken Camus-ass da-da shit, and the guy saying it has supreme command over one of the world’s largest, most meddlesome, most belligerent militaries. I just looked it up for a wee bit more context, and sure enough Trump was riffing on Boris Johnson’s dipshit plan for herd immunity, i.e., replacing a lot of public health work with what Trump called, verbatim, “a lot of death.” They’re both vicious, and it’s possible that they’re psychopaths, but more than anything they stand out for being stupid and cavalier. It was BoJo who walked around in the Shwedagon Pagoda gently singing that rude imperial ditty about kissing the local girl in Mandalay while a career UK diplomat pleaded with him to shut up and show some reverence for their hosts. #GoodStuff

The big difference is that BoJo has trains of thought. He knew what Mandalay was. If you’ve been watching and thinking critically about postmodern American politics, you may have noticed that this mental competency keeps getting us into very bad places. Trump is pretty awful himself, but on the other hand, he keeps letting important official secrets slip: the FBI is dirty; the other three-letter agencies are dirty; cooping Rod up in that cramped home on the range was bogus; his closest ally in Europe wanted to kill his constituents wholesale by exposing them to the deadliest pathogen currently in wide circulation.

The first three are true. Hell if I know what to make of the last. The Brits have had monarchs before who were hella stupid, but I’ve always been under the impression that Parliament screened its premiers for smarts, and that the Conservative Party lowered the bar for Boris. Good grief he’s no Maggie. He doesn’t even look like he’d wash up after sloppy seconds on Cameron’s pig. For that matter, comparing BoJo to his recent predecessors, as with the Donald to his, should be cause enough to take our evil leaders unfiltered when we can.

Jim Sim on your ass, or not

That’s the thing about the Wesleyan Tradition. It inspires humility. It inspires introspection. It inspires a number of edifying realizations: that there are consequences for behaviors; that yelling like a wild animal is a behavior that might bring consequences; that the Genesis on Western, an art store, not a zoo, might be a bad place to go screaming; that there is, in fact, an outside place, one of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth and, as needed, animal noises, where one may be exiled for not using one’s indoor voice.

Gee. Nobody told Kavanaugh. How bow dah. It’s always some paranoid schizophrenic or shamelessly insolent juvenile delinquent who gets this shit. Brett Michael’s kin and cronies bought him his record. We’re the ones debased enough to call it clean, but they bought it in his youth, and in his maturity (sic) they are now selling it. Do these characters sound crass enough to rely on Reputation Builder? A website? Prole please. The basketball thing, with girls? The legal mentorship, again with girls? As Potter Stewart said, I can’t define barely legal, but I know it when I see it. Justice Kavanaugh certainly knows tit when he sees tit, and Tiger Mom refers young ladies who will ensure that he sees.

We’re operating on some curious premises here. A publicly accused serial sex pest coaching girls’ basketball is innocent behavior. $190,000 in personal debts suddenly and mysteriously repaid were incurred for the love of the National Pastime. An activity Pete Rose might enjoy? Don’t be so cynical; you just hate conservatives. Mark Judge is just a crank with literary pretensions who happens to publish a medley of sex pest appreciation, Houellebecquian dry drunk confessionals about his glory days in high school, and tradcon horseshit about ballroom dancing, and also to have been Brett Kavanaugh’s high school bff turned prospective libel defendant. Catholicism means knowing the names of some parochial girls’ schools nobody beyond MontCo has ever given a shit about and screaming that Protestant girls are treyf. Come out, Virginia, don’t make me wait; you Catholic girls are much too chaste, I might have to rape a prot broad–I mean, Christ, Amy, do I look to your blackout drunk ass like I’d stick it in that frigid WASP, and it’s BEER, you scurrilous piece of shit, and I’ve always enjoyed it legally and responsibly.

As I point out, if anything not often enough, any semiferal high school clique with a star alumnus on the rise and a closet full of skeletons would take one glance at the Mark Judge situation and think, shit, this guy domiciling himself at a UPS Store means we done goofed. Say, Thicke, what rhymes with “Bart, have you goofed yet?” Even after Kavanaugh was rising through the Special Counsel’s Office and the federal bench, neither he nor any of his old boys from Prep took the Mark Judge situation seriously enough to make sure that he they weren’t continuing to give him reasons to out Kavanaugh as a house party rapist with a severe drinking problem. Given that this dude’s high school buddies were so seedy, that he kept the same kind of shit up through college, that he scandalized Ken fucking Starr with the smutty questions he was itching to ask Monica Lewinsky, that he had unsatisfactorily explained debts that vanished all of a sudden, and that as a married man (with a hot wife, jussane) well into middle age he had an infamous Yale law professor pimping her coeds out to him as eye candy–this was Nadia giving Burgess an emergency on-the-job lesson in resting bitch face in the gangland whorehouse-level degraded, and again, the orchestrator was the most controversial law prof in the land after Dersh and maybe John Yoo–given this mesmerizing and yet probably not exhaustive bill of particulars, every one of them as easily exposed as a dong in a dorm room, it seems imprudent not to have set aside in trust, say, a gentleman’s baseball money to move Mark Judge’s downwardly mobile ass into a condo in Harrisburg or something.

I guess I notice this reckless, obnoxiously insouciant arrogance because I’m the Judge analog for a couple of midlevel PMC shitheads now terminally sore that I’m a class traitor, so hurt that I had the nerve to call them out for wanton abuse and ridicule them for being bumptious yuppies. I’m no great fan of Mark Judge (Ballroom dancing? Do you have to fucking WRITE about it?), but Kavanaugh did more than his share to make him relevant. This dude was floundering on the Washington think tank F List, publishing a mishmash of goody-two-shoes Book of Virtues bollocks for homeschooling parents in Loudoun County, rape fantasies, and roman-a-clef teen drinking memoirs, and his most prominent high school classmate threatened to sue him for libel.

We can tell that Kavanaugh, the lawyer of the two, wasn’t thinking straight. Like, okay, Sniffly, the punk maybe made you look kind of bad, but nobody gives a shit about him. Do you really want to draw attention to that loser? And whose ass is gonna catch the worse Irish tan from the sunshine: his, or yours? The other possibility was that Brett Michael was bluffing: sleazy but ethical (applications are down: interested in law school?), but also potentially high-risk: this dude writes for a living, rather like I fill out shit-for-brains fifteen-cent Amtrak Guest Rewards surveys for a living, and he might be interested in writing about how his best friend in high school is now a thin-skinned, litigious legal bigshot who used to join him for gang rapes.

We might expect him, as a lawyer, to heed Ken White’s advice and shut the fuck up. Or we might expect him, as the Honorable Brett Michael Kavanaugh, never to do a thing of the sort. This stupid son of a bitch thought it made sense to threaten to sue an indigent personal enemy of above-average writing skills for publishing harsh but truthful semifictional stories about him that nobody had the interest to read.

To their credit, none of my own Kavanaugh wannabes have threatened to sue me. They probably realize that I’d tell them to get fucked for trying, tell their shithead realtor fathers to go fuck themselves for bankrolling the effort, and sure as hell tell their lawyers to go fuck themselves for taking bogus action or daring to address me as anything but “sir” or “mister.” “Boss” and “dawg” don’t cut it here, cracka. I get wound up sometimes, but when push comes to shove I’m pretty good at flushing the chickens back into the bushes, where they belong.

Yeah, I’m talking about shysters who hold plurality voting shares in Altoona. I don’t feel like recapitulating my beef with these shitty cunts, but I will say that their recalcitrantly vile antics have done much to turn me against provincial elites. If they’re so bigoted against the vulnerable and the subjugated, there’s no damn reason why the rest of us shouldn’t be prejudiced against them.

*****

This, archetypally, is Joe Biden. He’s a provincial elite. He’s a car dealer’s son who got hired by the banks to represent their rotten borough, the same one that celebrates Separation Day (dat one-party consent, tho), and additionally used this elected office to orchestrate militarized segregationist campaigns of repression against vulnerable black constituents. This, of course, is why Obama elevated him to the vice presidency. That man, as the Clintons call him, moved from Hawaii to Chicago to shimmy up the greasy pole, and he was only able to dream of his father. Does he sound like the kind of fool who doesn’t get what makes a honky-ass racist tick? Mocha Haole had his pick of enthusiastic running mates who didn’t mouth off about the “articulate” and have histories of staunch stands against school busing. Joe’s who he chose.

Close variants of Joe Biden’s brand of faux-folksy bullshit are a dime a dozen among America’s mayors, county commissioners, state assemblymen, congressmen, and governors. Their bogosity doesn’t get them ostracized at the Country Club. If it has an effect at all, it’s positive. We flounder under the misconception, strategically orchestrated by right-wing extremists in the rich conservative intellectual tradition of Making Shit Up, that our elites are all egghead blowhards with academic or journalistic sinecures. Why the hell would some contemptuous, unemployable simpleton with impossible forehead architecture concede that the humanities faculty at Oberlin is a veal pen for dissidents? These are shameless liars with a slow seventh-grader’s grasp of political thot. They can’t even tell when their own lying fades into bullshit artistry into delusion. They believe, and some of them truly believe, that the median housing stock in the United States has always been of excellent quality and that the Soviet economy was along the lines of Beria personally horsewhipping factory workers into gulag trains for being too slow riveting Il-62’s together with hand-me-down meat tenderizers.

Biden has always been a vicious scumbag and a grabass, but until a few years ago he had the wits to temper his nastiness with deceptively evil policy acumen. Now that he’s dementing in full public view, he’s reverting to the same old bag of worn-out tricks as any other elite mediocrity from the provinces: grossly disingenuous schmoozing, passive-aggressive sheepdogging, hail-fellow-well-met threats whose veils thin under pressure and then shred, folksy nonsequiturs that could be anything from criminal threats to utter gibberish. This is an exhausting list, but it is not exhaustive. Funny Uncle Joe has the additional grace of being under eighty and already visibly stumbling into Strom Thurmond permanent diaper days, paradoxically exacerbated by his still being ambulatory enough to leave the stove on and walk out into traffic.

They don’t normally try to crown such a shambolic nominee. Or maybe they didn’t. We’re exploring some very weird territory this year. The kingmakers (by some reckonings, Obama himself) wrangled a collection of adequately lucid candidates to drop out all at once and endorse that lead-poisoned jumble of brain worms. Joe wasn’t the only bogusly folksy piece of shit on the stage; he was just the only bogusly folksy piece of shit with aggressive all-day dementia, runaway disinhibition, and failing eyelid function. He’s the gerontocratic equivalent of Brezhnev, or a version of Brezhnev that never shut his damn mouth. Between Trump’s grandiosity, Biden’s extreme decline, and the Booty Judge’s unctuous appeals to what the Baby Boomers at their worst wish their disappointing spawn would be, we’re living in times of extreme gerontocracy. It’s a whole-ass mood.

These are disgusting, repulsive characters. Just because I find Trump the most tolerable of them (usually excluding Warren, just to be clear) is no reason to expect others to feel likewise. On the other hand, the way MSNBC and the rest of the grand hysterics giving the Democratic Party its Slow Ghomeshi categorize our politicians is batshit insane. They analyze our politics with all the nuance of Rob Ford discussing the Jamaicans when he’s out for jerk chicken past his bedtime.

One subtle but, I’m convinced, crucial nuance they’re nowhere near getting is the relative psychosocial overlap of Trump, Kavanaugh, and Biden. They’re all sex pests, but that’s the easy part. So is Bill Clinton. And sure, they all make Rod Blagojevich look like Frank Serpico. They’re bad men. What I can’t stand about the shitlib reaction to our recent political circumstances is the constant, top-of-the-lungs shrieking about how singularly evil the orange man is and, since these nightmares can always get worse, Joe Biden is our indispensable salvation. Who the fuck are we calling “us?” It ain’t me, pal. I get incandescently fucking sick of listening to hysterical rich wackos clearly safe from the ill material effects of the evil policies any of these scumbags has enacted throwing fits about how I owe society and myself a vote for some absolute shithead to defeat a guy they find too embarrassing to take to a dinner party, just because I’m intelligent and I went to college. So did our presidents. Two of the most recent three hold MBA’s. The third is (what else?) a lawyer.

So much of this petulant, petty whining is about pointless distractions like Trump not bowing his head for grace at the Al Smith Dinner. I’ve got a scandalously elegant solution: cancel the fucking dinner. If it’s good enough for public masses this spring, it’s good enough for that bullshit any year.

This is what sets these losers off, not the actual policies in question, as we can tell because they were satisfied with Obama and are now rehabilitating Strategery. Adam Crapser might beg to differ, from Korea, but he’s a low-class criminal undesirable from Tacoma, not an American.

The liberal hive mind is rightly appalled about Kavanaugh, but it’s appalled from a position of disabling illogic. One of the few things even more disgraceful than shitting on the office floor during an interview and angrily demanding a job is being the boss who rewards that performance with a job offer. He’s totally a sex pest; the Deborah Ramirez allegations are especially credible. But she’s from the wrong side of the tracks in Connecticut, so of course they got Christine Blasey-Ford alone onto the Hill, the better to celebrate her “indelible in the hippocampus” distraction. It’s a fitting addition to the RBG home bookshelf, yes? Good God, y’all. I’ve never seriously thought she wasn’t honest, but that was like if I said, “Yeah, Lieutenant Tittytorque grabbed, squeezed, and twisted. You know it was a dry job, though, right? The boy cow doesn’t produce milk. I mean, not from there. I watched a kid milk a she-goat at the Sonoma County Fair once. Mercy did that girl gush.” Why the fuck was she testifying as an expert witness to corroborate her own testimony? Who greenlit that?

It’s amazing she isn’t another lawyer, like Inweaved in the Extensive, the one whose “parents own a goddamn steel mill.”

If we’re desperately peddling Joe Biden as the last line of defense against projectile reactionary scum like Brett Kavanaugh, we might want to check first to see that he doesn’t speak and comport himself in an eerily similar manner, have highly overlapping ideology, or be notorious for shepherding another emotionally volatile sex pest onto the Supreme Court. Huh. Some men are bound as brother soldiers, or cowboys, or monks; other men are bound by their shared love of smacking the poo-poo out of Corn Pop with a length of chain and stealing his girl.

Anita Hill is an eminently forgettable accuser when these are the stakes. I mean, not for me, but I wasn’t asked. Joe Biden and Clarence Thomas are both funny uncles you don’t want over at Christmas but you tolerate because you don’t want your grandmother to threaten you with the wrath of God; it’s just that the one used his committee position in the Senate to get the other a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Thomas is kind of a shithead (his jurisprudence isn’t as bad as advertised), and he was a pathetic high horseman to narcissistically inflame racial tensions at his confirmation hearings by arguing that he was being lynched, but at least he isn’t the same spoiling pile of slop as every other gladhanding reactionary creep in Washington. He’s a rare bird, a guy who could just as easily be appointed high school principal, charter a storefront church Friday afternoon and have two hundred congregants in the pews for his sermon Sunday morning, or walk into the woods and talk to bears.

This is in no way the case with Gropey Joe and Justice Blow. They’re the same utterly derivative catfishing elite son of a bitch. They have the same faux-humble entitlement and arrogance. They’re both scions of the same lace curtain Irish drunkard stock. Brett Michael, as we witnessed, is a whole lot more than a scion. They both grandstand about their own self-righteous Catholicism. Some of my Greater Bowie Marylanders from the Newman Club mount the high horse from time to time and get a bit wound up or abrasive in the saddle, but they aren’t assholes about it. (In Post-Soviet Pimlico, of course, saddle abrade YOU!) It’s a sign, and not a good one at all, that I cringe with embarrassment for some of the most zealous, politically activated, and LOUD pro-life friends I’ve ever had that a raging shithead like Kavanaugh has hitched his own wagon to the same horse. Since we’re waxing tendentious about horses and their riders again (and not even Mounties!), I might as well award a dishonorable mention to the 727 I watched back in September, and started to chronicle before executive function and focus got the best of me by going AWOL, land through a weakly sultry reverse-ops Indian Summer haze at BWI, inbound from Lexington with a full load of racehorses.

You’ll be shocked to guess who never did a thing so ridiculous with a horse, and with the Crown paying him to do it, no less.

Brett Michael, tho. Justice Blow and Gropey Joe fucking TALK alike. They were raised a couple of hours apart, roughly on the same Pennsy trunk line, but it’s more than that. My Anne Arundel-class pro-lifers (grab a pole and drop the A, eh; heehee!) have similar accents, but they don’t use theirs as a platform for avuncular sleaze. It’s because they’re good people, not incorrigible asshats. They aren’t used car salesmen turned A-List national political figures. (Yes, SCOTUS is a political institution. As I said, I’ve seen the RBG sections at fancy Bay Area bookstores, and just about barfed.) These friends of mine don’t even strive for political hair. Brett Michael’s hairline is solid, and the Junior Joseph Rubbinatte Bottom’s plugs are hair game that I, as a follicularly challenged American and sporadic Rogaine user, can’t help but respect, especially after a glance at the First State Solar-Powered Sex Machine. (I’ve also looked at I’m Not A Witch, and for more than a New York Minute, so we know that horny voting is not necessarily the path to the top).

The point is, Biden and Kavanaugh are both garbage. GTFO if you think I don’t notice. They’re the same fucking thing. They don’t even have an accent available as far afield as Perth Amboy, Purcellvile, or State College. We do not need these shysters. Say what you will about the Donald, and I’ve said a lot myself: at least his outer-borough diaspora Thirty Rock drama queen shtick is refreshing. Have you looked at the Senate lately? They’re fucking replicants.

Maybe that’s what the blob hates about Bernie. They hate a bunch of other things about him, too, but that fits the bill closely enough.

What the lanyard nerds and the self-serious ghouls doing business in the pews at Tim Russert’s funeral and every other piece of affiliated striver trash orbiting the Hill don’t get is that their darlings aren’t even FUN. If you’re gonna starve us to death, could you at least entertain us along the way? Shit, it isn’t even necessarily that fatalistic. Trump’s inability to last a week without reverting into a messy bitch from Queens who lives for drama gets the civility scolds, staffer nerds, hysterical affluent liberals, and Dudley Do Right conservative throwbacks into enough of a lather to actually push back from time to time. We saw for years how they reacted to the same policy pushes from smoothies like the Big Dog, Poppy and Sonny, and Mocha Haole: jack fucking shit.

It’s horrifying that they can’t be bothered to care about evil. At least they care about aesthetics.

*****

The other weird virtue Trump somehow possesses is a recognition that it’s dishonorable to step into the ring and then whine about getting bruised. He has an odd way of showing it, incorrigible whiner and drama queen that he is. What does stand out about him, in this vein, is that he doesn’t constantly provoke enemies and then go whining to the mods about how they hurt him and violated the rules. He hits straight back. He does his own rough work.

He’s a rich, pampered piece of shit, but he’s an unusually honorable and self-reliant rich piece of shit. We’re so propagandized to assume that it’s normal and acceptable for our betters to play dirty, then turn right around and try to get their opponents into trouble for playing dirty, that we’ve lost the vocabulary to describe their treacherous sleaze.

He’s rich. If he isn’t, he plays it convincingly to string along the Business Success Guy bridge loans. If this means turning to Eurotrash banks or Russian oligarchs or American oligarchs (known domestically as NBC) because reputable US banks got terminally sick of his bullshit, he’ll gladly do that. So would every other rich prick who pissed off the banks at home and could line up backup financing.

But that’s just the Donald. Being rich, the Oaf of Office surrounds himself with–what else?–other rich people. He’s eclectic enough to accrete more idiosyncratic types as well: pushy ethnonationalists (Miller, Sessions), troubled autodidacts (Bannon), well-compensated professionals who can’t fucking stand him because they’re competent (Tillerson; moron this from time to time); but he’s rich. Those of us who pay attention know exactly who swarms the rich: peers, sycophants, and servants. This explains Spicer (pure sycophant) and Scaramucci (intersectional peer-sycophant).

It’s no coincidence that the Clintons have come to be orbited by a force field of the same three taxonomical wonders. James Carville, the Ragin’ Cajun, is a hardnosed throwback to the K/T Boundary, back when Mammalia evolved from him and Billary accepted that they had to fight to win. We see, all too much, who they keep around now. More and more it’s hubristic scum like Neera Tanden and hopeless fools like Adam “How Could Bernie Would Have Won” Parkhomenko, who somehow lives deeply enough in the real world to be a reserve police officer. Truly the Chief works in mysterious ways.

We know wifey loves her some servants: she says so herself in her memoirs, cooing about the inmate servants assigned to the Arkansas governor’s mansion as a charming regional curiosity, not Jim Crow indentured slavery.

Those who reach the Clintons’ station in life in these decadent postmodern days strut into the funhouse. Chelsea, having been born into it, is in weird, horrifying ways even worse than her parents. The three of them are an ouroboros of grotesquery, the first-generation new money parents defending their perch with frantic, hateful hostility, the second-generation wealth native daughter scandalized and befuddled that her inferiors would ever imagine her to be anything but an executive function and early childhood education genius. Think Megan McArdle, Meghan McCain (McMeghan, not McMegan), ad the eldest three Trump kids. Or, if you wish to remain continent of stomach, don’t. It’s your reading day; I’m just trying to spoil it, with facts.

No less beautifully are we graced with the leadership of plausible eunuch, cuckold, gentleman-fancier, and/or husband Jared Kushner, a young man who now has the Thicc Moist President’s ear about pharmacological research he’s been hearing about from his buddies in Silicon Valley. Absolutely nothing about this situation is possible without ostentatious privilege. The head of government and state listening to this reckless happy horseshit got the fawning coverage that he used to maintain and build the A-List celebrity launch pad for his presidential run because he lives in extreme privilege. The fey twerp whispering this horseshit into his ear behind closed doors became his son-in-law because he’s privileged. The coked-up Dunning-Kruger retards telling Kushner about this combination of corporate patent-squatting, affiliate-marketer grifting, and game-of-telephone horseshit about the new miracle drugs which happen to have side effects including premature death, oops lol, are buddies with him because they’re privileged and he’s privileged. The same Sand Hill Road shitheads come to believe in this horseshit in the first place because they’re privileged.

There are reasons why, like, 5% of medical doctors and nurses, less than 1% of pharmacological researchers, and 90% of public techbros fall for this lifethreatening woo. Our elites go to school to rise ABOVE education. They enroll to transcend the mind. Nobody who actually practices medicine in this country is a member of the elite above the county level. We compensate our physicians, surgeons, and psychiatrists rather lavishly, especially the more useless ones, and we have at least our fair share of medically degreed idiots, but let’s be clear. Tom Price stopped practicing medicine to go flying. Bill Frist examined Terry Schiavo same as I examined Dagmar Midcap’s tits on the eleven o’clock news. If Dr. Frist’s beloved medicine is so fulfilling, why doesn’t he just practice it? There are medical doctors who practice medicine instead of bragging about their periodic overseas mission trips as members of Congress who own gargantuan, incorrigibly predatory vulture capital hospital chains.

But why merely make good money doing more or less good work when you can sell the hell out for a windfall or five and not exactly have to work for it? Work ain’t how you strike it big, kid. Elon Musk doesn’t work; he posts. The SEC never told him to shut up for quietly discharging his fiduciary duties as a corporate officer. It’s no coincidence that he’s landed mining gentry. Even when these upper-crust shitheads work instead of tweaking out all the live-long day and starting flame wars on main, they revert to thuggery and live off the avails of the labor of tens of thousands. Bill Gates had his lawyer father menace his competitors with unethical letters threatening vexatious legal action. When Jeff Bezos assembled Amazon’s early executive and technical teams, he demanded their SAT scores.

These guys can’t even be nerds without throwing their weight around. A grown-ass college graduate asking about SAT scores? Fuck off you miserable cunt. Warren Buffett is a literary giant compared to his class peers, but he doesn’t do anything legitimately along the lines of work to support himself. Plenty of unemployed shut-ins and cafe wastrels over the years have written engaging correspondence. We don’t, as a society, give them a break by stipulating that this correspondence is a form of employment.

The reason we deem Warren Buffett employed is that he plays Monopoly with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. Realize that back in the Gilded Age, at the height of the Grange agitation on the prairie, at maximum-volume William Jennings Bryan Cross of Gold voice, before the old preacher man stalked off to Tennessee to yell at hillbillies about monkeys and God, the Midwestern public and for that matter a great portion of the American citizenry at large were up in arms against no fewer than three oligopolistic predecessor railroads, all of them now formally commemorated by name in the amalgamation: the Burlington, the Great Northern, and the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe. Warren Buffett now owns all of these networks, and I couldn’t say offhand how many others, as a single consolidated holding. This Tom Brokaw-ass son of a bitch turns on a computer and trades Boardwalk for the Reading Railroad like he and the boys are playing a round of Bullshit around a campfire at Philmont.

All a billionaire has to do to win the most gushing praise for his intelligence and warmth is not carry on in public like a missing Kardashian. Shit, Musk doesn’t even try, and he still has a chorus of fanboys caterwauling about how he’s an absolute genius. This is a guy who got so salty at an expert cave explorer for saying that his armchair admiral’s rescue submarine proposal wouldn’t work that he called the spelunker a pedophile.

Let’s fucking level here: nobody who shows up with a modicum of technical expertise in the matter at hand lashes out like that. Of course the guy with the Popular Mechanics-ass proposal to send a prototype submarine into a cave that ended up drowning a crack Thai Navy diver is the same asshole who smoked a blunt on air during a videotaped radio interview about his visionary publicly traded companies, tried to float an IPO at $420 for the lulz, and bragged about fixing traffic from Marina del Rey to the Grapevine to Sand Hill by tunneling what amounts to a high-speed electrified replication of the US 6 expressway on Cape Cod.

*****

This is what happens when we let people secede from the world and simultaneously consolidate their power over it. Christopher Lasch himself wouldn’t be able to imagine how revolting they have become. Alas, Wesley Willis was primarily an autobiographer, a man parochially chronicling only his own accountability, not the accountability of the masters we share.

Be the Jim Sim you wish to see in their lives.