Dr. Kaczynski at his most Florentine never had such an obnoxious Ted Hour

Closed-circuit video kills the radio star all day every day on Bombers’ Row, harder than the BOP ever killed Lauryn Hill, the nonwhite who was the new black, and certainly harder than he did with his song. Paul Tanaka and Michael Slager are compulsory Coloradans now, too, so there’s no reason not to bring them into Michael Rudkin’s sallyport for a mass Colorado Rocky Mountain Hahaha, I’m allowed to leave whenever I want, bitch. I feel bad about associating Slager with these shitheads, but not too bad; he and the Rod Unspared are neighbors (beautiful day, Rogers!), and they’re both accomplishing more with their silver hair than I am with my brown hair. Never let anyone tell you that the systemwide ban on hair dye means that FCI Englewood isn’t just for men.

That was terrible. So are those three words (TM), which say too much (TM): Robert Philip Hanssen. *Defiant Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab voice* I don’t know what’s wrong with any of you infidel assholes, but I’m only here because I tried to blow up my shorts.

At least Mr. Explodeypants isn’t getting all up in your face to chronicle NPR. I am, though. You should have known by now that this thing wasn’t about to get any less fucked up. I don’t know whether Guy Raz has a great face for radio, and I don’t care to check, but he sure has an awful voice. Even as House Voice goes he’s a stinker. Maybe that’s why he now hosts a weekly show of neoliberal enrichment seminar excerpts. It’s a great way to get lectured by some bumptious dipshit who at least nominally has expertise in whatever field they’re examining and then get T-boned every ten minutes by the discovery that that useless simpering son of a bitch has his own urgent thoughts on the same subjects.

Today’s sic theme was “adaptation.” First they had some dude on to talk about lost Indians in deepest Mexico who were hella good ultramarathoners into their eighties because they never had running shoes, the point being that you, Bruce, Wendy, and I were all born to run. Baby. Then they brought in a blind guy with a story about how his parents let him learn to echolocate like a bat and find his own independent way in the world instead of sitting around and feeling sorry for himself. It sounded like wise parenting, but I got the feeling that the St. Elmo’s Fire shit was really aimed at people whose challenges were a lot more artificial and deliberate than being blind. It did not, for example, explain why Joe Dirtbag never pays anyone for heavy farm labor, which doesn’t exactly consist of lollygagging all day and having a sad. The episode ended with some artsy-fartsy bullshit about how metal can be hung from the ceiling in a sheet instead of like, sitting on the ground in a big solid block. That segment was so obviously fucking retarded that I needed only ten or fifteen seconds to turn the radio off and revert to my usual habitat, On Line.

The most ridiculous and offensive segment was about Rich Benjamin and Whitopia, his book about the American Whitey Rez. The problem wasn’t that they aired his talk; ever since I heard of Whitopia it’s been on my long-term reading list, and the material I’ve come across about it has always been interesting. What I did not care to hear was their sanctimonious, passive-aggressive framing of white people, many of them also White People, being unable and unwilling to adapt to life as minorities in an inexorably darkening land. Great job making me have common cause with every paranoid authoritarian asshole who cashed out the better part of a million dollars in Prop 13 home equity to buy an unduly large woodlot and a toy barn 45 minutes from Sandpoint.

It’s fucking majestic: here’s another starve-the-beast CalPERS shithead with an ax to grind about the Negroes while he watches Fox News all day in his compound, and I have to take his side 100% in this dispute because this time the liberals really are out to get him, not to mention rubbing me the wrong damn way. I’m a shitposter who drives a used Focus. I’m writing this from Sacramento, one of the most racially integrated cities in the United States. I know full well that the California diaspora loudmouths in rural Idaho are as viciously aggrieved as they are privileged. I’m not down here wistfully seeking an unattainable full communion with Whitey. A lack of white folk isn’t the problem on and around Joe Dirtbag’s farm. That property and that part of the country are plenty honkiful. It doesn’t matter, though, because as much as I enjoy the work I can’t stand the grab bag of dipshits who may or may not be risking their lives by living without heat on property that I’m funding, depending on the time of year and their personal interests. My interests don’t include Into the Wild stunts, but who am I to say that total strangers who don’t have any particular interest in or aptitude for farm work shouldn’t wander onto land that I’m funding, perhaps to live another day, perhaps to die?

There’s no shortage of grandstanding back-to-the-land assholes in the Pacific Northwest who are cordially invited to lose me with their insane bullshit. NPR has made me side with a prominent group of them in a stupid culture war because NPR has once again pulled defeat from the jaws of victory and made itself look absolutely disreputable and pathetic in its over-the-top opposition to a community that is pretty much morally bankrupt itself. When I was in Boise and Idaho City for the eclipse and saw “toy barn” crop up repeatedly in the real estate listings, I lost whatever vague, inchoate opposition I had possibly had to taxing the shit out of those motherfuckers. I’m already in California often enough to be paying significant amounts of sales tax towards their pensions, so I don’t fucking mind the idea that they might be hosed for their fair share of the upkeep for marginal, quasihoused people such as myself, take or take. Cry me the Payette over this tragedy. Hey, I just said “Pay!” That’s freshwater right there, but don’t let it stop a cracker from getting salty.

NPR never thinks in such terms. Doing so would mean questioning affluence and the behavior of the affluent, and we all know that NPR does nothing of the sort. It’s there to challenge explicit bigotry, as opposed to its politically correct implicit forms, and if possible to accuse bigots of being poor. It would be ridiculous to accuse golf-fancying property owners living in gated communities where they resettled for lifestyle reasons of being poor, and even NPR’s capacity for self-ownership has its limits, but it’s technically accurate to accuse them of moving to hella white counties where there aren’t any black and brown folk and waaah, that’s, like, all problematic-like. They’ve got sheer geography on their side: Washington County, Utah and Kootenai County, Idaho are–Wow Very Explain–counties. Adams-Morgan is a neighborhood. Does House Voice live in PG? Hell no. That would be too much Community in the community. This crew lives in Arlington and Wicked Northwest, but not being all pick a bale by sundown and mercy I do declare where’s the General Lee with the heavily black and brown help that runs the physical plant inside the Beltway allows them to play woke. That’s enough for them to pretend to socialize with the local color without giving the average casual listener a tangible reason to call bullshit. Realistically, these sermonizing assholes spend as much time on social calls in Anacostia as retirees in St. George spend at cookouts with Polynesian airport rampers in Salt Lake City, but from thirty thousand feet one sees a lower albedo, so they must be super evolved. #KeepClimbing.

This is how we find ourselves with the most annoying possible Angeleno, who moved to Washington as an adult for his own professional advancement in the imperial center, accusing everyone who moved from Simi Valley to Coeur d’Alene of being maladaptive. By the way, I just accidentally beheld that bastard’s cursed image. The morals of this story are to stay off the internet and, yes, that fucker is about as ugly a dork as you’d expect. Mark Fuhrman hasn’t aged too well himself, but he looked way better than Guy Raz ever has and ever will back in the glory days of the McGrilled Chicken Sandwich Deal. *Monty Robinson transmission incoming, on the radio* Sometimes on a Friday I’ll stop by and have a few drinks, then hit Tsawwassen in my Jeep.

Uh huh. This is a shitty Southland food fight that for some reason needs national airtime, a Jew indulging in a beef with a rough squad of retired Shabbos Goyim for not saying enough nice things about the duskies among whom none of them choose to live. Upon information and belief, Stephanie Lazarus is a Jewess, and a credit to Los Angeles Jewry. We know that Monica Lewinsky makes the tribe look solid in the same way that the Kardashians excuse the Armenians for being the Jews of Fresno. *Warren Zevon, coming back in on all three chords* Lawyers, guns, and my God, this fucker hasn’t even heard of me. Sometimes NPR tries to be subtle. This shit about demographic change and adaptation has all the tact of Detective Suchenfuch talking about the black invasion of Westwood with that amateur she-videographer dipshit. They say that everyone in LA wants to be famous. Furhman was a rare one who pulled it off, like, I totally don’t trust that cunt Captain York, but this broad who showed up in town to be a movie star seems all right.

Send me picture postcards, tough guy. Look, parts of my family are, (((YOU KNOW))), so I’m well within my rights to wonder what the hell anyone at NPR was thinking to have a passive-aggressive Jew go on the record to bitch about how career LAPD cops are maladaptive losers for retiring to Northern Idaho. For crying out loud, Furhman was raised in Washington State, and Raz is a shanda in the best of times. Someone thought it was a good idea not just to give that dorky Hebrew two successive national anchor positions and then use one of them to diss the gentiles at length for having the wrong reaction to their discomfort with nonwhites. Do they even teach logic at NPR? Lol no. It’s adaptive for a simpering dweeb to move across the country for career advancement but not for people who are sick of LA to move inland for lifestyle reasons intersecting with their openly retrograde thoughts on race.

This is the exact level of intellectual maturity and honesty that has our elected blowhards calling every inconvenient mass shooter and jihadist suicide bomber a coward. Anything that we disapprove of is weakness, while everything that we approve of is strength. We might as well give Pot-o-Shit Friend national Saturday evening airtime to denounce Kevin Vickers as a filthy weakling, because, yes, you fucking betcha I just said “turd.” I’m honestly baffled that Guy Raz was able to hack it as a war correspondent. In a way, it’s even worse that he’s merely playing an insufferable wuss, that it’s just an act. It’s like they’re calibrating the whole shtick for maximum alienation of the provincial gentiles. What better than to put a grating Semitic pussy on the air to narrate a story about how a community of street-hardened Heinz 57 honkies are a cultural and demographic cul-de-sac for being such losers that they moved somewhere else because they didn’t like the scene where they had been living?

It isn’t my fault that I’m siding with Daryl Gates and Chateau Heartiste here. NPR forced my hand. I can’t find a citation, but I recall hearing that whitopias are always near polo clubs. On the Millington-Robinson spectrum of horsemanship, polo is definitely closer to Sauce Boss falling head over heels into the creek, which is also the drink. If they aren’t careful, they’ll have me defending fancy shitheads who drink mint juleps at Churchill Downs. Northside Juice never did anything so stupid with a horse, and that storytelling buddy made it through Depot, so we know he wasn’t on track to do anything sensible with one. It isn’t my fault that I’m defending the very worst crackers that I haven’t seen with their pants on the ground on the light rail through Rancho Cordova. It’s the fault of NPR, an organization of blindingly White white people who are even worse.

Good grief, Ghomeshi, there’s no reason to choke only Canadians.


A standing offer to Dickinson College: cash me ousside, how bow dah

Bhad Bhabie is inevitably a civic improvement over *MY OLD SCHOOL.* How could she not be? The young lady cherishes her freedom. She knows that Dr. Phil and his audience are officious authoritarian creeps who resent her for her refusal to submit to their authority, and she knows that, unlike, say, juvenile probation and the police, their authority ends cold at the studio door, the Threshold of Ousside. Beyond that point, out in the streets, they’re just creeps chasing a vicarious thrill by pestering a minor they’ve never met. What are they gonna do? Street-fight her and risk criminal charges? She’s the juvenile, after all.

Yes, she’s a Florida Woman. What the fuck else would Bhad Bhabie be? Compared to anybody reputable she’s a disgrace. But we aren’t talking about the reputable here. We’re talking about Dickinson Fucking College, and Dr. Phil, which is only marginally worse. Her deal is to challenge repressed wine moms to meet her out front and put their money where their loud mouths are if they’re so upset about her not particularly impressive juvenile delinquency. Sure, you’re amped up to talk shit about me in here, but any of you cunts wanna go out and rumble with my jailbait ass in front of the Hollywood Division? Ousside Melrose, and Olympic Division can get in on the action, too. How bow dah. I didn’t know that myself until just now, when I actually did the requisite Google-fu, because there’s something wrong with me that isn’t wrong with the Bregoli girl. She gets the gist of it, though. She can tell that witch hunt fantasy land is an indoor space, and that if any of them follow her outside they’ll be on much less favorable turf, where even a reviled juvenile delinquent has rights.

*Anthony Rollins rolling through the yard, in a Different Sunburned Country* Stop talking about “Outside,” you condescending asshole. Don’t know the reason, he stays there all seasons. Actually, I do: serial rape. The Bulger fellow retired to Tucson, too. I wouldn’t want to bunk with him, but like Muhammad Ali and the VC, no skull-cracking Boston shanty mick with rat statuary in his apartment ever tried to brainwash me with yuppie talking points about the incalculable value of a fancy college education and then badgered me for money. Forcible Northern Exposure never did a thing like that to me, either.

By now, something’s gotta go wrong with this story, ’cause I’m feeling just too damn good about how little #CanadianContent there is in this All-American clusterfuck, but one does not rundel in every jungle. Surely that came as quite a shock. What else will I fish out by the time we’re done here? Honestly, it’s harder to write these things without Fish Friend and the Fibbing Foursome memes. That requires editing and shit.

It’s 3:00 am, I must be living in an unfathomable underworld of the mind, but look, if the sergeant on public information duty at your local detachment has a side gig selling freebase to the interior BC home bake crowd, that’s because there’s a market for that shit that goes far beyond Rob Ford and isn’t all like, okay, buddy, I only did that because I was blind drunk. One of the nice things about drug dealers is that they go hustle someone else once they realize that they’re dealing with someone who isn’t looking for any damn drugs. This is absolutely not the case for cult bagmen whose targets are not interested in giving tithes and offerings to a fucking cult. There’s no sense that, you know, this guy thinks were a bunch of assholes for bothering him, so maybe we should stop calling after the third or fourth time he tells one of our phone bank cold callers to stuff it and hangs up. There’s no discernment that it might be a good idea to stop sending junk mail to someone who hasn’t given a dime in over a decade and has nothing but hatefully bad things to say about the development office.

These are nice ideas, but we’re dealing with a cult. These people do not give a goddamn. Any alum who has a problem with them is the unreasonable one. If their incessant whines for alms offend anyone, it isn’t on them. It’s obviously the audience’s fault for being bitter and, say, warm homeless. Hey there. This is another thing that’s worth an explicit recapitulation: the Distinctively Dickinson Education or whatever the hell the marketeers are calling it these days is inherently so goddamned enriching and enlightening and edifying that no one receiving it can possibly fail to graduate with a skill set enabling the singlehanded conquest of the whole wide world, but if, say, no fewer than two 2006 graduates have ended up homeless in the subsequent decade, and I’m apparently the more fortunate of us, or if we have some kind of problem finding work, that’s because we, as individual graduates, have been doing it all wrong. No way did a school that chronically and obnoxiously oversells itself for fundraising purposes do anything not fully deserving of our annual first fruits. No one in charge of that joint thinks, gee, if we promised them the world and they’ve degenerated into hobos with sporadic employment prospects, maybe we failed them.

This isn’t just a judgment-free zone (TM); it’s an accountability-free zone. Dickinson operates in the fashion of Tammany Hall, usually implicitly, although sometimes implicitly, as in the case of a young lady nicknamed Emily Bailout, whose parents were said by senior student government officials (sorry for not providing a barf warning; okay, not sorry at all) to have purchased her an entry-level administrative sinecure for an even fifty grand. Imagine how admirable these sleazy crooks would make Whitey Bulger look if he’d just bribed his way through life instead of doing business by having everyone whacked. The thing about traditional mob and machine politics is that the organizations rewarded their supporters by directly delivering the fucking goods. They knew that no one with the patience to put up with their corruption had the time to wait for some bullshit neoliberal self-actualization scheme that they were peddling to bear fruit in their lives. They needed the damn street repaved, and, plus or minus some delays to accommodate ethnically or clan-tinged factional juju, they dispatched a crew to repave the damn street.

Imagine Old Man Daley condescendingly charging three or four years’ median household income for some seminars on how to shovel hot patch into a pothole and then blaming the deplorable fuck-ups who took the classes for not adequately applying themselves. That’s the first time the thought ever crossed your mind because that never fucking happened. Sure, Boss Tweed’s got a suitcase full of cash here and a suitcase there, the Who-Dat Jefferson fellow keeps his in the freezer so he won’t forget where it is, and the Daley boy does his old man proud by secretly having his dozer goons wreck Meigs Field at a quarter to daybreak, but at least when they’re going into their secret places to collect their graft and/or have a mad about the city council not taking theoretical waterfront aviation terrorism seriously enough, they lose the bootstrap horseshit.

Fuck, I just started remembering the rough contours of Wee Dicky D’s neoliberal redevelopment scamming, so it wasn’t all broad shoulders and plain dealers when the constituents came knocking. Still, old-school ward bosses don’t have that college boy attitude problem. They get that the regular folk won’t want a thing to do with them if they’re always looking down their noses at them with a haughty sneer. More than a few of them, I imagine, take pride in delivering the goods for constituents who would otherwise be languishing, and feel vicariously happy for those they’ve helped. They have enough respect for their constituents not to openly make fun of them, at least, and certainly to refrain from blaming them for being dissatisfied with city services that they keep failing to provide. Some of the time, anyway, they recognize that they have a duty to their constituents to actually get shit done. Maybe I’m romanticizing a bunch of unwashed thugs, but it sure seems that they don’t go around blaming their less successful constituents for being unemployable in one breath and haranguing them for joyful love offerings in the next.

As we’ve discussed before, the Dunkin’ Doorman doesn’t care about my feelings for him as long as I give him some coffee money. He’ll probably spend the money on coffee, or maybe on hashbrowns or donuts: to wit, Friends of Coffee. Dickinson has millions of dollars’ worth of annual administrative salaries and frivolous fringe expenses to fund before it gets around to forthrightly feeding anyone, and keep in mind that it hoses its parents for a dedicated stream of food service gibs to cover its regular cafeteria expenses. For stewardship, there’s no contest: it’s the Dunkin’ Doorman all the way. The nice thing about Atlantic City, but not Carlisle, is that once I get sick of giving his whiny ass money or, to be more accurate, listening to him whine at me for not giving him money, NJ Transit offers an excellent style of ride straight back to Philadelphia for, like, eight or ten bucks, although not as fine a style of ride as Amtrak does by converting the same cars into California Clippers. These outfits provide me with passenger rail service in exchange for my fare money, and they don’t bitch at me about how I haven’t been spending enough time on the train.

There’s a reason why I gratuitously admire refurbished commuter rail rolling stock in these pages. If I didn’t, I’d have to focus unwaveringly on unspeakably disgusting subjects, like American higher education. If we’re talking about how much money Dickinson needs per enrolled student in order to facilitate whatever the fuck it’s supposedly doing on the student body’s behalf, it has something like $164,000 per capita currently available JUST IN ENDOWMENT PRINCIPAL. I doubt the Dunkin’ Doorman has a $164,000 interest-bearing savings account that needs to be supplemented with petty cash requests all morning to fund his cuppa. Go figure that he has the much less offensive attitude. I still do quite fine without him, but as robber barons and moral busybodies go, he’s a petty robber baron. He isn’t the one sending me mail every month or two on the assumption that I admire his fine fundraising institution and that there’s something wrong with me if I don’t. He isn’t the one trying to run a decades-long brainwashing operation on me.

Neither is College of the Redwoods. CR isn’t run by grandiosities who assume that the education their school provides is fucking magical and that anyone who disagrees is scandalously uncouth. No one who isn’t self-marginalizing gets upset if an alumnus complains that CR turned out to be worth jack shit. On top of that, CR seeks its funding from the State of California, which hasn’t been scavenging deposit bottles for pocket change and something to do, and not from me, its alumnus, who has. That’s an institutional affiliation that I’m proud to have. It doesn’t provoke me to repeatedly assert that I never wanted a thing to do with pushy yuppie cult shitheads and their nonexistent boundaries and can only revile the institution that has formed them into such noxious trash because they donate to fundraising drives more readily that way.

It doesn’t inspire half-serious thoughts of reaching back out to that socially climbing fuckjob from the alumni council to tell him that it took me all of ten seconds’ research to discover that he graduated from Parkway South High School. Nobody at College of the Redwoods ever catfished me as some kind of J. D. Vance of Outer Branson and then turned out to be from St. Louis. This fucker’s attitude wouldn’t bother me if it made him stick out like a sore thumb in a community that was otherwise grounded and reputable. Instead, it’s just a particularly galling and provably misleading version of the same goddamn song and dance everyone who shows up for alumni events keeps performing. These people can’t or won’t stop lying, dissembling, and saying unscrupulous things that the faintest, most optional relationship to the observable truth, all in service to a pat, ragingly bogus narrative of excellence and prestige. Just realizing that it takes extra mental energy to process and discard their torrent of happy horseshit is an exhausting mindfuck. Not wanting to slide into a state that even feels like psychosis, I insist on keeping myself oriented in the real world whenever they construct for themselves a more self-aggrandizing parallel alternate reality and try to force me to inhabit it with them. They can go to hell if they think this makes ME the abnormal one.

Besides, it’s rare that any of these in-your-face assholes could provide for themselves or anyone else in the real world. I’m the one who’s taken up agricultural trades while a bunch of mostly useless eaters who studied borderline liberal arts quasihumanities like international relations and economics (without learning anything about the actual economy, inevitably) badger me for not being more enthusiastic about our alma mater and all the excellence it shits out upon the near and far corners of the earth, when they aren’t making fun of me for being a marginally employable fuckup.

This is why, like Bhad Bhabie, I relish the thought of luring these little snots out for a reeducation with people who don’t give a shit about their precious degrees and expect them to demonstrate that they’re worth having around based on some kind of actual merit: productive skills, sound judgment, intellectual capacity that doesn’t reflexively refer back to their pedigrees for an instant assertion of superiority, not being preppy assholes who must have stood Chappaquiddick Cool Change up on a seaside date. The mash, that’s pat of the sea, too, you bastid.

These pricks could use a trip beyond, far beyond, the limestone walls, to engage a world that is definitively not theirs. Ousside, bish. Cash midriff?


That looks pretty Outside to me, AM I RIGHT, ROLLINS? The owner of this humble abode has been exposed to a lot more than just the Anchorage Police Department. So, to a lesser extent, have I. This is how Megan McArdle would be living in a genuine neoliberal meritocracy, although a University of Chicago umbrella would work, too. At long last we have someone who recognizes what college is worth. GO DIPLOMATS!

The steam grate, though, that’s socialism. As they say up north, but not all that far up north, look at this photograph. Every time I do, I realize that Amtrak is one of our better shelter providers, and that Dickinson College never gave me any damn reward points.


Of Spartans and Trojans

My cousin’s husband is a Michigan State alumnus, and even though he admires some players that my cousin openly ridicules, including one who I recall being famous for swinging his junk around, I can’t envy him these days for his affiliation with the school that’s best known for employing Pedo Doc. That’s a hell of an institutional reputation to live down. I know quite a few people who are affiliated with Penn State, and the Jerry Sandusky scandal had an ugly effect of splitting them between those who were honest enough to admit that the whole thing was deeply shameful and a seething horde of deranged amoral apologists. WE ARE!

And don’tcha fucking know, Michigan State turns out to have a cover-up to go with its sex abuse scandal, just like the Shittany Lyins. It’s majestic. The school spent the length of the scandal implying that, oh, gee, we had no idea about the creep, we must have been running our HR department out of Oopsilanti. In the midst of Larry Nassar’s state sentencing hearing, though, it emerged that sixteen-year-old girls had complained internally about Nassar abusing them to a woman named Kathie Klages, the director of a youth gymnastics program and future MSU women’s gymnastics coach, and Klages “cautioned them from reporting.” This Spanieresque profile in cowardice appears to have done jack shit about Doc Diddles for the rest of her career, which she finally weaseled away from in a disgraceful abrupt retirement the day after she was suspended for offending her athletes by covering for Nassar after he was finally exposed in 2016. This can be inferred not only from Nassar’s continued employment in general but his return to work after a third sexual assault complaint, filed by a recent graduate and investigated by the university under Title IX and by the local police as a criminal matter, in 2014. The Title IX investigation determined that the young woman “did not understand the nuanced difference between sexual assault and an osteopathic medical procedure” to treat her hip and back pain.

For some time I wondered why none of Nassar’s victims were alarmed enough by his sexually invasive “examinations” at the time to immediately complain, but it turns out that at least three of them did complain. It’s an unfortunately low percentage of his victims, who one would hope would have recognized with full clarity that exams for most non-OB/GYN complaints should have little to nothing to do with their genitals, but it still proves that the school was aware that patients believed he had sexually assaulted them and retained him on its medical staff anyway. The rationale for keeping him on staff after he was investigated by the police and barely not prosecuted was that the offensive exam had only felt like a sexual assault to the patient. The administration didn’t even make him do the dance of the lemons. It let him stay on through at least three patient complaints of sexual assault, two by minors, and continue treating adolescent girls and young women under the auspices of a competitive athletic program.

Kathie Klages is a fucking monster, much worse than Mike McQueary. McQueary is a partially sympathetic character, a guy who found himself in an awful situation and became paralyzed: not admirable, to be sure, but also not execrable. His witnessing Jerry Sandusky raping a child put him in a terrible spot vis-à-vis the Penn State football juggernaut, and most of us really have no idea of what we’d do if we found ourselves in such a nightmare at work. What Klages did was to affirmatively interfere with two minor sexual assault victims reporting a predatory physician to police and university administrators.

This is why we can’t trust authority figures unless they give us unambiguous reasons to trust them. These seedy institutional cover-ups are legion. Kathie Klages didn’t want the girls under her authority rocking the boat. This was in consideration of her own interests, not theirs. Reporting a sexual assault to the police is no walk in the park, and there are agencies that deliberately mishandle sexual assault complaints by siding with suspects or retaliating against complainants (a huge, basically ubiquitous problem for sex workers, who are one of the most exceptionally vulnerable populations to sexual assault), but it is not a fucking coach’s place to determine whether a victim cries out or holds her peace.

Given the evidence of institutional negligence and accessory to sexual assault, the earlier victims should have sued the bloody shit out of Nassar, Klages, and Michigan State. It’s just more evidence of our national deference to institutions, including atrocious ones, that they did not. This is a blatantly corrupt organization that allowed all these patients to be molested by a team physician. It’s exactly the sort of institution that should immediately be cornered by anyone it has exposed to a staff predator.

For one thing, cult shitheads might be less obnoxiously enthusiastic about a school that is a defendant of record in civil suits over sex crimes committed under its auspices. That kind of thing tends to tarnish the good old athletic glory. It might inspire a measure of contemplative silence in pieces of shit like Joel Ferguson, the Michigan State trustee who wants to keep the school’s embattled president in office because, hey, MSU is about a lot more than just the team doc diddling gymnasts. “I mean, when you go to the basketball game, you walk into the new Breslin [Center], and the person who hustled and got all those major donors to give money was Lou Anna Simon.” Also, “This is not Penn State. They were dealing with their football program.”

Gee, that’s fascinating. I understand that Yorkville High was dealing with its wrestling program. I mean, when you go to a wrestling match and walk into Hastert Hall. The Penn State Board of Trustees also included a faction that felt duty-bound to represent alumni, students, and fans in general (do think about the etymology, specifically, “fanatic”) who considered it appropriate to be complicit in child rape because, come on, the Sandusky stuff was a distraction from the glory of #FOOTBALL. Are you ready for some, bitch? It’s a religion for these assholes, in the worst possible way.

Speaking of Oopsilanti, Dr. Nassar surely rues the fact that he didn’t have the opportunity to “examine” the Arbor girl. Oh dear, I have family in Ann Arbor. That was terrible.  So is this Eastern Michigan football standout:


Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! Say, that isn’t a good feeling at all, you fucking creep. Sometimes, it has every bit as much to do with good-faith policing as it does with good-faith osteopathic medicine, which is about as much as wrestling has to do with heterosexuality. Not that J. Denny Dundiddly necessarily minded an opportunity to suck white dick. OJ is a gentleman of restraint and good manners compared to any of these, and Carmen Puliafito, wrapped or not, doesn’t have a damned thing on any of them.

Love too manfully instill Virtue in the Nation’s Youth through Sport.

A further inducement to perform sweet oral romance upon my balls, Tate

Good grief, this sounds like a lifestyle fit for Oral Roberts University, where one is sternly admonished in the name of the Lord to cease the oral, Roberts, and be chaste. So help me, that’s a real university. This stuff can be impossible to make up.

In the course of banging out (heh) my screed about NPR going to Muncie to yuk it up with the local business elite and make an ass of everyone involved, I forgot to mention my closest personal connection to Muncie, not a close or direct connection but still one seedy enough to merit a dedicated discussion of how academia can turn on a dime into a total shitshow and there’s no reason to move to Indiana just to act like that.

This fuckhead was a religion professor whose course I was taking exclusively to fill a ridiculous, intellectually meritless distribution requirement. He was on a two-year contract to cover for a tenured professor who had been sent overseas to run one of Dickinson’s study abroad programs. By every account I heard the tenured prof was either respected or beloved, but academic service (#ThankYouForYourService) had required him to fly thousands of miles away for some Year in Provence shit, and this guy they’d hired to replace him was a fucking lemon. There were all of nine or eleven of us enrolled in the class, and he had us sit in a fucking circle for excruciating roundtable discussions of reading assignments that all but one or, on a good day, three had completed (not me, because they sucked ass), getting increasingly impatient and hostile with us when he realized that we didn’t know what the fuck we were supposed to talk about because we hadn’t done the work.

In spite of our recalcitrance when ordered to read terribly written academic literature about obscure religious imagery and history when most of us didn’t know shit from Shinola about the general cultural context of what we were “studying,” this inept asshole was either unable or unwilling to change the class format to anything resembling an impromptu lecture whenever it became clear that we were hopeless to handle our end of an halfway informed discussion. Every time I stepped into that cursed classroom, I assumed that this asshole was going to get hostile with us again, and as a rule of thumb he did.

Most people would walk out of a free evening class at the public library if it were run anything like that. It was a clusterfuck. With its idyllic setting on the main quad, in the hallowed limestone halls under the mighty shade oaks, it inspired wishes for Sherman to come back to life and burn down New England. Sure, this was happening in the Pennsylvania we never found, but there was no reason not to start the festivities of warmth in the Heart of Whiteness. We’d gotten stuck in an art house film from hell week after week, and it was obvious that not only this emotionally volatile shithead of a professor but everyone involved in approving his course and suggesting it as a distribution requirement (somehow three-in-one for my purposes) was beyond redemption. The very existence of this godforsaken class was an indictment of the residential liberal arts model. We were not going to become educated by showing up like whipped little bitches two or three times a week to have this whiny, sanctimonious, hostile piece of shit insult our academic fitness until he felt the faint, transient calling to fucking teach us something. Neither were we going to walk away uneducated for not having put up with this shit.

Since this was college, and our parents were effectively paying several thousand dollars per capita for us to be verbally abused by this dipshit we would have abandoned like hot garbage if we’d come across him hosting a free walk-in Q&A at Barnes & Noble with that attitude, we had writing assignments, too. I barely gave a shit about the first one, so I half-assed it. This asshat told me to see him in his office after he’d graded our papers, and against my better judgment I complied. He pulled mine out, waved it at me almost violently, and barked, “What the fuck is this?” I mumbled some shit, barely trying to defend myself, and he barked some more insults at me to the effect that I was a fuckup and he didn’t want to see that again and that’s why he’d given me 7/20.

Again, I was not the one who complained to him about his giving me a poor grade; it was he who menacingly confronted me about the failing grade he’d issued. I was stunned, hurt, and, although I tried to conceal it, quite angry. That was a completely unacceptable way to treat a student. I would have cut him some slack if he’d gotten worked up and cursed out a student who had just barged into his office to demand a passing grade for failing work, and I would have been fine with him getting hostile with a parent for choppering in to demand a good grade for precious Taylor’s shitty work. That is not what fucking happened. I have never in my life even calmly asked a teacher to consider revising a grade upward. If I’d had reason to believe that I’d been given an unfairly low grade I might have considered protesting, but from ninth grade onward I never had any suspicions that an instructor was sabotaging me or anyone else. What happened was that this motherfucker summoned me into a small room away from witnesses and screamed bloody murder at me for fucking up a completely pointless undergraduate writing assignment. Did I care what devotion to the minor Hindu gods meant to some Swedish blowhard whose writing would have put you to sleep as well? Hell no. Did I give a shit that I’d scored 7/20 for not giving a shit, instead of 5 or 10 or 12? Again, not a fucking chance. It hurt a tiny bit for a few seconds, but I knew that I’d spent too much time on that dumbass paper, not too little.

What complicated things for me was that by the time this bumptious, out-of-control piece of shit called me into his office to bark his word at me, the withdrawal period had already passed. Dickinson’s academic rules dictated that I was stuck in that course, and I didn’t see how I’d be able to convince anyone in the administration to waive the rules. I’d considered withdrawing in the first two weeks, when it was already clear that the quality of instruction was abysmal and the professor’s tone towards us routinely unprofessional, but I was eager to get the three-in-one distribution requirement out of the way, I’d never withdrawn from a course, and the roundtables, as excruciating as they were, didn’t seem egregious enough to stop attending when the upside for completing the course was so big. I did not have the nerve to complain to anyone else in the department or the administration that this guy was a hopeless instructor with no ability to keep his course on track for ten minutes. They were going to be rid of him at the end of the academic year regardless.

A professor calling me into his office to start a shouting match with me because he was mortally insulted by my having half-assed a five-page research assignment was egregious enough to complain, but I let myself get intimidated. The provost’s office probably would have dismissed me as a snowflake if I’d merely told them that a professor had made me uncomfortable, but I would have had leverage over them if I’d filed a police report, filed suit against the professor, or had him and the school officials with supervisory authority over him served with a cease-and-desist letter from an attorney demanding that he never raise his voice at me or demand to speak to me in private again. I probably could have sued the school into allowing me to withdraw from the course, the rules be damned, not because this guy was kind of a jerk but because he had become out of control in a private meeting that he had called for the purpose of verbally abusing me. No college administration wants to get exposed in open court over something like that.

There’s a good chance I could have gotten this dipshit fired, too, not just on account of my own he-said-he-said allegations but by prompting an administrative review of the prof’s teaching history, which might have shown that his courses were train wrecks and he routinely failed to behave appropriately around students. His yelling might have been barely justifiable coming from a professor who had already been mentoring me in some fashion, but homeboy wasn’t doing that. I’d never taken a class with him before, was not majoring or minoring in his department, and did not have an established academic relationship with any other professors in his department. It was not his place to say, oh, come on, I’m only saying these things because I keah about you, because I’m yaw stehyaff seahgeant, Mahky Mahk! Feeling salty about a student one barely knows turning in a shitty paper for a class he’s taking for a distribution requirement does not excuse ordering the student to come into one’s office for a foulmouthed, hostile, menacing shouting fit. That’s all there is to it.

Just because parents and students complain about rigorous grading and other petty academic gripes too often doesn’t mean that they don’t complain about serious grievances often enough. There’s a lot of bad behavior lurking barely under the surface in academia. It doesn’t just involve professors or their academic departments, and it encompasses a hell of a lot more than just salacious sexual outbursts.

Dickinson College Residential Life was a slumlording clusterfuck in its own right when I was there. It’s become popular to complain about colleges spending too much money on luxury housing for their students, but Dickinson more often made incompatible roommates shack up in conditions verging on the squalid. Circa 2003, it tried to make light of something that it called the “Morgan Crunch,” when Admissions fucked up its guess of how many accepted students would matriculate and Res Life made a number of students triple up in double rooms in Morgan Hall. The reasonable response of both students and parents to a mess like that would have been to tell the school to go to hell for the rest of the academic year and get back in touch if it lined up adequate dormitory space. Instead, everything I heard from classmates sided with the school, like, oh, it was just a well-meaning goof and besides, it was a great bonding experience. “I Survived the Morgan Crunch!” Yeah, and I survived a night at the Motel Six over by the Turnpike and another night on a couch at the Delta Sig house because the creep I’d been assigned as a roommate was showing above-baseline violent ideation whenever we were both in the room.

Nobody had any reason to trust or count on the derelicts who ran that clown show. Ultimately, that was just more cult brainwashing. If a prestigious liberal arts college is too disorganized to provide minimally adequate dorm space, which would arguably be uninhabitable under any other auspices other than a prison, and also fails to line up enough off-campus housing to fill the shortage that it caused by its own ineptitude, that’s obviously just a lovable institutional foible, not cause to sue for the reimbursement of all rent payments made to date and release from all outstanding financial liability for the remainder of the academic year. After all, only a whipped little bitch would tolerate anything of the sort from any other landlord.

Hey there.

What I ultimately did in response to that hotheaded religion professor’s tirade was half-assed and mostly disreputable. I continued to go to class, entirely because one of the other students was one of the Insurance Schmuck’s abrasive lunch buddies and I didn’t want to explain the mess to him, but I resolved never to do another word of writing for that class, and that, at least, is one resolution that I fucking kept. That motherfucker hadn’t had the self-control to show me a lick of civility or orderliness for the five or ten minutes that my shitty work had possibly been on the agenda, almost all of that time his sole doing, so I damn well wasn’t about to give him another opportunity to disrespect my efforts to do the intellectually and emotionally deadening busywork that he kept assigning us. That is, I deliberately failed his course for the purpose of setting some minimal boundaries with him. I don’t think I ever told anyone about what I did or why.

To wax all terminally Paul Harvey on a cracker, this out-of-control fuckjob with the projectile midlife crisis left his temp job at Dickinson for a tenure-track position at Ball State. That’s what the mutual lunch buddy told me. He seemed to regard that as a good explanation for everything that was wrong with our professor and his wasted life. And now you know PART of the REST of the STORY.

I felt just a bit bad for this shithead because he was from Los Angeles, and I hated the idea of a fellow Californian being forced to bounce around from shithole to shithole back east in pursuit of a desultory, unrelentingly bleak academic career. Just a bit, though. I enjoy meeting the California diaspora when I’m out of state, but not if they’re just a bunch of frustrated assholes who take out their existential anger on whoever is within yelling distance. Besides, it was his own damn problem if he didn’t like chasing mediocre academic appointments around the country in a series of unsettling backwaters in Appalachia and the Midwest. Nurse Majors was born in a small town, I was raised in a different small town, and you never know when one of these stories will get suddenly sexy in a third small town, such as Red Bluff. That’s right: I slept in my car again last night, but I slept in my car in the fucking promised land. And my parents paid a lot more per diem for me to be verbally abused by a wandering Angeleno whose doppelganger and spirit animal patrols Manayunk for the Philadelphia Police Department (true story) than they’re paying for me to camp out in my Focus under the savanna oaks.

The REST of the REST of the STORY is that academia is a disgrace too deep and intractable to be believed if you haven’t laid eyes on it. GO DIPLOMATS!


Kaiser Permanente makes me want to expatriate

Bear in mind that I’m not one of the loudmouthed whiners who bumptiously threaten to emigrate every time the electorate coughs up a butthurtful president. As the Founders would agree, the President is merely the presiding executive. Yes, Wow Such educational Much insights Omg beth ruyak Very explain. Never mind that this does have to be explained to the brainwashed hordes who stumble around our republic on an endless contact high from the presidency’s inflated, bogus majesty. Presidents come, presidents go, and Trudeau, Canada’s mentionable Justin, is something of a weaselly little shit himself.

US healthcare policy is grotesquely wrong in ways that transcend our presidential administrations. Employer-based insurance arose as a wartime contingency that industrial firms used to woo employees without falling afoul of federal wage controls. Let’s spell it out: that’s “wartime” as in World War II, exactly the war you had in mind. WWII ended in 1945. The UK established its National Health Service before it completely ended wartime rationing. Tommy Douglas rolled out Medicare in Saskatchewan in the early sixties and took it national mid-decade.*Very Gary Johnson voice* What is “Saskatchewan?” Hint: it’s closer to the United States than Tommy is by blood to Kirk and Michael.

There is something deeply, embarrassingly wrong with a country that cannot, over the course of more than half a century, replicate the very successful and popular national health insurance system maintained by the country with which it shares its longest land border and predominant language. (Sorey, mes putains, mais c’est comme ça exactement.) This is not a cultural foible; it’s an utter fucking national disgrace, not to mention a relentless attack on the constituents who are forced to make do with a deliberately sabotaged insurance system. It’s not like we used our national sovereignty to come up with a novel healthcare system that actually fucking works. What we did was take a lame ad hoc arrangement whose very origin was disingenuous, kept it halfway functional for twenty or thirty years, and then spent another thirty or forty years deliberately wrecking it before finally making a half-assed, piecemeal effort at reform that still arbitrarily allowed a large minority of the citizenry to fall through the cracks. We yoked our healthcare system to a labor market that we then deliberately destroyed. On what planet is any of this shit reputable?

My dealings with Kaiser Permanente are a result of the scandalously feeble reform effort mentioned above, euphemized as, LOL, the Affordable Care Act. I don’t want to hear a damned word about how I could have applied for Medicaid instead; in a decent society, I’d have Medicare by now, and you would, too. Those of us who so much as dabble in payroll employment already contribute deductions to Medicare for the care of the elderly, the disabled, and so forth, so why in all holy fuck can’t our federal government figure out how to expand the same system, which bloody well works, to everyone, and stop fucking siloing us into dipshit narrow-eligibility plans for which we may suddenly become ineligible for no good reason? This shit shouldn’t even exist. It’s fine if KP or whatever wants to pitch specialty services to people who are already covered by a functioning national health insurance system, but the patchwork that we have now is criminal. The extra disruptions that it imposes during changes in work status alone are proof of its criminality. The neoliberal weasel pack obviously relishes its use of employer-based insurance as a cudgel to get Americans to seek and hold down jobs, but Medicaid beneficiaries face the prospect of losing eligibility precisely because they responded as intended to this incentive to work, but fuck all y’all, we’re living in an Uber economy now. Say what you will about Tim Hortons being run by absolute shitheads; at least they aren’t in a position to fuck up their employees’ healthcare every time they dick around with their hours or employment status. #TIMMEH!

Thanks to advance premium tax credits whose mechanisms I can’t face researching, I’m now able to pay my premium bills without financial hardship. This would feel like something resembling customer service if I could figure out what in the everloving fuck KP will be charging me if I, you know, need medical care. But for the grace of God, etc., I don’t have any conditions necessitating examination or treatment on any sort of timely, let alone emergency, basis, but I do have some minor complaints that would be worth treating. My blood pressure, on the high side, probably alarms others more than it alarms me. I guess I could use some psych services, but like hell do I have any plans to seek psychiatric care in the United States ever again; that much I WILL be taking abroad, if I take it at all.

More pertinently, I guess, I have a small lesion on my forehead that I’d like to have excised. It’s mostly just a nuisance, but it can be painful to the touch, and it seems too big to prudently excise myself, as I’ve done with skin tags. This is how I know what shits run Kaiser. I researched the cost of getting the damn thing removed through KP’s patient portal, and I couldn’t come up with a fucking price quote. They’ve got half a dozen or a dozen or fuck if I can accurately say how many pissant codes for different dermatological procedures, but they don’t have anything like a standard outpatient dermatological excision cost. It depends on what the doc thinks about my lesion.

If I go to a private dental clinic for a cleaning, the dentist doesn’t tell me afterwards that I’m on the hook for $100, not the standard $75, because my teeth are kind of big and funny, not like normal teeth. Dental care in the United States is a classist clusterfuck, but at least it generally has transparent price schedules. Not being formally trained in dermatology, I don’t know what exactly I have on my forehead; that’s why I’d like to have someone who does know about dermatology identify and remove it. In an accountable system, this would be done by someone whose network doesn’t have a kickback arrangement with the pathology lab, not a presumption of innocence that I’m ready to grant Kaiser Permanente. There might be a compelling medical reason to have the lump put under the scope, but I wouldn’t trust KP to make that decision with my interests in mind rather than its own, or to refrain from soaking me for the path workup just to pad its own bottom line, not when I can’t tell what it plans to charge for the five or, liberally, ten minutes needed to lop it off in an outpatient clinic. Healthcare in the United States is increasingly devoted to the arbitrary hosing of vulnerable patients with junk bills, and I have a $6,500 annual deductible to exhaust before I’ll stop being a profit center for Kaiser.

One of the points of being insured is that it should make more sense to get medical treatment at home than to go abroad. That is not what we have in the United States. It probably makes more sense for me to seek routine medical care in Mexico than from “my” doctor in Rancho Cordova. I can more accurately say that Bob is “my” conductor on the Lakeshore Limited from Buffalo to Rensselaer, since I’ve ridden with him twice. KP’s patient portal gives me the option to e-mail “my” doctor, so theoretically I could badger him with demands to be told exactly what his practice will charge me for treatment, demands that I do not have to make of Amtrak, which discloses the full cost of its fares upfront. I’d expect much less, and probably none, of this sort of blindside junk billing from a clinic in Tijuana, and I know that there isn’t any on Amtrak or MTS. The trolley goes right to the city gates, mostly (muh fuckin Ped West), so it’s mainly a scheduling problem, as in, when does the train leave. I may be wrong, but I assume that a Mexican clinic, private or public, would charge less than Kaiser for exactly the same standard of care, and that a private clinic would probably have a shorter wait time.

William and Mary certainly won’t do, now, but Guadalajara might. Guad is said to be home to one of the crappiest medical schools in the Americas, but I don’t know how much of that is just the snobbery of docs who were admitted to medical schools stateside. Regardless, love too militarily restabilize Grenada on behalf of the US expatriate student body. I’m waxing a bit flippant here, but I am not kidding. We have one of the worst healthcare systems on earth, including the Third World. We’re starting to fall behind Rwanda on primary care. True story: Rwanda has taken advantage of Western foundation money to scale up comprehensive home visits for HIV patients, and meanwhile American hospitals have security guards wheeling freshly discharged patients out to bus stops in the snow while they’re still wearing hospital gowns. This is anecdotal evidence, but try accounting for the existence of these anecdotes. I’m n0t pulling these stories out of my ass. We’ve got a bunch of extremely bad processes and extremely bad outcomes, coupled with the highest costs for patients and insurers. None of our First-World peer nations can compete with what we spend on healthcare as a percentage of GDP, and the rest of the First World consistently beats the shit out of the United States on patient outcomes. How hard do we really think it is for Mexico, with its halfway functional and accountable government, to also smoke us across the board?

And of course Canada leaves us in a cloud of dust. When Canadians come to the United States for treatment, it’s usually affluent ones bypassing the waits for elective treatment at home by purchasing it at a premium from American hospitals. Don’t ignore for a second that they also bypass all the obstructions and traps that American hospitals, often the very same hospitals, set in front of American patients. They pay enough to be exempted from the red tape and extortion. If one of our hospitals even tried to screw them over, they could summarily repatriate and have the Canadian courts order the scumbags to get fucked. US hospitals have stronger incentives to treat Canadian patients well than they have to treat American patients well, precisely because these Canucks have more options at their disposal, notably including the quite adequate hospitals back home.

Let’s not compare Canadians who get their medical care at the Mayo Clinic with Americans who get screwed raw by whatever shitty rent-seeking community hospital happens to be nearest by when they take sick. The Rwandan accompagneteur program, which provides regular home visits to indigent patients living in huts, is a much more apt comparison. I’m not trying to preemptively argue that the Canadian government has never run a useless shitshow of a clinic on an Indian reserve, since that’s plausible enough, but we can’t take at face value the White Whines of Canada’s most affluent medical tourists when they, or whatever stateside shitbirds are defaming their provincial and federal governments from a think tank perch, complain about wait times. Besides, it’s not like I was ever told that I’d have to wait a month and a half to get a bunion examined by a podiatrist in Lebanon, PA. We totally don’t have wait times for non-emergency care in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, or atrocious maternal and child mortality rates.

It’s harder to get an answer from Kaiser Permanente about how much it will charge to lop that fucking lump off my forehead in a ten-minute slash-and-dash than it is figure out from the immigration and HRSDC websites what I’d have to do to obtain legal residency in Canada. This speaks much better of Canada, which is not my home and native land, than it does of the United States, which is. This ain’t a case of love it or leave it. I’m not a loud patriot, but I’m a patriot. I’d consider an offer of Canadian citizenship a high honor, much higher than OBE or OC or some shit, but I would not accept an offer of Canadian citizenship lightly. Expatriating while remaining registered to vote in California, as is my right as a US citizen with established residency ties to California, and using expatriation as the basis for an exemption from the Obamacare individual mandate, is a completely separate matter. That’s no failure of patriotism. Patriotism does not demand submission to the most boneheaded and corrupt dictates of an unaccountable, bought-off government. Neither did patriotism demand submission to the draft and deployment to Vietnam to hold the line against communism in Southeast Asia, or, as this mission was reinterpreted in the enlisted ranks, to kill the fucking shit out of the fucking gooks. Canada came through for us when Lyndon used that fool’s errand to get his constituents killed for the aggrandizement of his Johnson. Canada came through for quite a few of my country’s fugitive slaves, too. I don’t see how it didn’t treat them better than my own people did.

No, I’m not trying to start Canada Day celebrations five and a half months early. That’s not why I maintain the internet’s treasury of Sick Willie, Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes, Colonel Underpants, and Northside Juice and the Shady Blues memes, even if Thick Lizzie is no sexy male nurse Lynn Majors. I’ve heard of a number of serious complaints about communal tensions and problems with the police affecting Afro-Canadian communities in Nova Scotia and Ontario. I’m not about to get up on Monty Robinson’s high horse and insist that Canada is the perfect community for the Community, although, if I did, I wouldn’t get drunk and fall off, and I’ve never committed a fatal DUI. It was fun when Kwesi Millington sued the CBC for defamation, and it would be fun if Sauce Boss sued me for accusing him of constantly falling off his horse. All of this is more fun than health policy in the United States. Canada has its shambolic intersectional creeps, murderers, perjurers, bus cannibals, and drunks, but it also had Tommy Douglas. We had FDR, the half-measure Douglas who left behind the employer-based health insurance system that we still can’t fix. Frankie Boy couldn’t have known what a clusterfuck we’d make of this ad hoc wartime arrangement that was directly not his doing but the doing of Business Plot industrialists who had been brought only partly to heel by popular and government pressure in the midst of a systemic economic collapse.

I don’t feel like dignifying any Merle Haggard-ass blowhards who would like to impugn my patriotism. This is my country, but it’s a deeply sick and dysfunctional country. It’s unreasonable to assume that we’ll somehow magically keep this whole deal together and heal ourselves in due course of time when our national track record of reform is so poor. Go figure that the love-it-or-leave-its cheer on everyone who bails on Venezuela or Cuba on account of grievances with socialistic central planning. This isn’t really about loyalty to place. Michael O. Church is right that America as a concept has historically meant many things, but what’s worrisome is that so many of these things have been powerfully destructive and evil. Our healthcare system as it has evolved for most of living memory is no result of national virtue.

And we’ve damned most of a continent by our very political culture and geography. Canada and Mexico are the only sizable countries that are within close range for expatriation, and they, plus a number of Central American countries, are within firing distance of one of the most insanely grandiose empires the world has ever known. This is one of the really disturbing things about healthcare policy in the United States. This chronic dysfunction and extortion isn’t being codified by the corrupt government of some tinpot dictatorship, but by the world’s sole extant imperial hyperpower. This arguably ignores China, but the Chinese politburo is more pragmatic and less grandiose. Whatever is wrong with the United States will inevitably threaten its neighbors. We aren’t a backwater like Honduras or El Salvador. Those countries have stumbled into national disaster, and we’ve rarely been bashful about giving them a good hard push, but they don’t have the demographic capacity to overwhelm their neighbors. We do. This can’t be good news for North America long-term.

As Juarez said, Mexico is so far from God and so close to the United States. Canada, for its part, has been aptly described as a pimple on the American ass. The saving grace, perhaps, is that Kaiser Permanente can’t begin to work out the billing code to remove it.

Great crimes and great fortunes

There are no good billionaires. Let’s get out heads out of our asses. Living in a ranch house in Omaha does not make Warren Buffett authentic. I’ve been to Omaha three times. Two of these trips were limited to a fresh air break on the depot platform, but I was awake and attentive to the landscape as I rolled through Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska. On the second trip I was able to catch sight of the Nebraska capitol tower, which is not illuminated, on the way through Lincoln. I keep meaning to make a dedicated trip through that part of the country, on both sides of the Missouri, best when the daytime highs are somewhere above twenty degrees. I’m cold-hardy, but I’m also a Californian and not a toolbox. But I do not for one fucking second imagine that that miserly Tom Brokaw-acting cunt gains a shred of virtue or wisdom for living in Omaha. What’s next? Asserting that sexy male nurse Lynn Majors is authentically murderous for being a small-town Hoosier? I was born in a small town, my grandparents lived in that same small town until, you know.

At least I don’t take this shit seriously. At least I know that it’s just Memetime in America. If sexy male code enforcement officer Lynn Rader commits his next mail violation by sending out tendentious stock tips, will that make him the Oracle of Wichita? *Glen Campbell, back on the line* I didn’t say anything so rude about a Kansan, now.

Warren Buffett has basically the same values as any other billionaire, values that are absolute garbage. His public brand drives him to make a show of being a cheap piece of shit, but if he were comfortable being modest or downwardly mobile he’d have done something else with his career. Hell, if he weren’t rapacious he’d cut the stockmongering and retire into something less Rich Uncle Moneybags: RVing, gardening, hunting, poker, high-volume golf, I dunno, but definitely not what he’s made a name for himself doing.

The specific cultural problem extrinsic to Buffett is that every dipshit journalist who hasn’t spent any time in the Midwest figures that instead of traveling there sometime and taking a look around it would make more sense to repeat shopworn talking points from the PR machine of the same bumptious fuckjob who happens to be famous for famously being from Omaha. Like, if we listen to him, we’ll pick up all these great heartland values. Again, how does this not apply to our old boy Dennis Lynn Rader, who also enjoys regular correspondence from the nation’s midsection? What the hell do these motherfuckers represent? If I somehow became buddies with the Omaha country club set to the point of making them schnorrable for meals, I reckon they’d take me out for steak, not to fucking Dairy Queen. There’s no way the Nebraska business elite mumble half-coherent breakfast orders in the McDonald’s drive-through as a high folkway. That just ain’t so, cracka. They may be plainer in their dress and manners than the fanciest New Yorkers, but they cherish primer cuts than that. Besides, in case we’re trying to live in the real world here, most of them don’t actually give off a tell-tale vibe that they aren’t possibly from Alpharetta or Narberth or Torrey Pines.

The categorical error that craven assholes in the mainstream media keep making is their insistence that there are normal billionaires and billionaire wannabes. (Think Trump; surely the hallmark of solvency is the failure to pay FAA registration fees on one’s private jet fleet.) Here we have an overclass that is wealthy and powerful enough to live like gods incarnate, and we’re told that they’re actually like you and me. Yeah, and I’m Kevin Vickers. Go high enough and everyone’s warped. I’m close to a number of financial millionaires and near millionaires. The superrich I read about in the news do not share their values. They do not have a worldview or set of cultural practices in common. Too many merely bourgeois social climbers haphazardly try to ape the mogul overclass, mainly on weekend evenings, but most of them revert on short order to more or less normative bourgeois behaviors. Most of them revert to a decent measure of thrift, industry, sobriety, and modesty, knowing, for one thing, that those who don’t are ruined.

Beyond some murky threshold, well into the tens, if not hundreds, of millions for the obscure and probably in the low tens for the famous, attitudes and behaviors go through a funhouse mirror. Betsy Devos plucked elementary school mentees effectively at random, parachuting them into exclusive private schools. In exchange, she paid their parents and older siblings to clean her mansions. Aside from the perennial question of why our public schools are such intractable dystopias, this raises questions about why the fuck the DeVoses need so much housecleaning. What is wrong with them that they can’t get by with just one mansion in Southwestern Michigan? This is nuts.

Again and again the very wealthy demonstrate that they have too much money to spend well. The lakeside compound that Bill Gates built with his fortune is batshit insane. The Google boys bought a used Qantas 767, on the cheap, actually (the finest styles of ride tend to depreciate, too), and proceeded to bicker about its interior decoration. The scandal here, of course, was that they weren’t doing their aviation on the equivalent of their famous Priuses. This innocently, foolishly, presumes far too much principle on their part. Why would they claw and slash their way to the top just to fly coach? Al Gore has the same problem, but more so, with his infamous Tennessee horse country mansion and its air conditioning bill, not to mention all his profligate international travel for the purpose of admonishing others to travel less profligately. Likewise the rotating cast of entertainment celebrities who have hypocritically made climate change their cause: they have enough money and connections to live like gods, too.

This isn’t the only gross political manifestation of extreme wealth. We’ve got the Koch brothers, a well weird duo, buying pet Congressmen and governors, lately including the sitting Vice President, and the Mercers hiring and then punishing Steve Bannon in the fashion of their wayward house slave. They’re decadent imperial Roman grandees, and he’s their reprobate Greek. All gall is divided however it must be to enable these shits to shove around an accomplished millionaire, of all people. Imagine how they must treat their gardeners and maids. These are people for whom American politics is a fucking board game. It’s for the little people, the rest of us, their host society, to suffer the consequences of their grandiosity and greed. To them, an autodidact with a background in investment banking and high-profile internet news is just another servant, maybe not quite as disposable as a day laborer picked up in the Home Depot parking lot to rake up the leaves but not much more valuable than that.

What the hell are the rest of us supposed to make of a regime in which a handful of scions of unfathomable wealth have, conservatively, a budget of thirty million dollars apiece at a time to lavish on pet political operatives and propagandists? What does this do to the national sense of truth and justice? The Clintons are grotesquely aggrandized in their own right, but what are we to make of a society whose waters Richard Mellon Scaife has enough personal wealth to muddy at will with fever-swamp tales of their immorality?

I sit down and write this stuff on my own. All I need is the time, which I usually have, and the energy, which, uh, well, uh. The point is that I don’t have a fucking staff for this shit. I don’t have a fucking think tank. I’ve got friends, relatives, acquaintances, passersby, and the like who inform my screeds or act as sounding boards, but I’m not in a position to hire, say, Megan McArdle. Not that I would if I could, because yuck. Michael O. Church is right that the socioeconomic elite is in no way an intellectual elite. The fact that McMegan has found people with a think tank budget who didn’t take one look at her and think, damn, this bitch is dumb, is evidence enough.

Then again, living in truth gets in the way of living in wealth. This helps explain why at the top, much as at the hard bottom, everyone acts like a fucking animal. I have no idea whether the story about Donald Trump’s private White House gorilla channel is at all accurate, but it’s a fun story, and ultimately it’s true. It’s definitely true that the shitheads up top get salty when the apes don’t fight enough for their taste. #GorillaMindset

Affluence can alienate people from mainstream society, but there’s a huge difference between being able to afford to eat out somewhere nice and being able to basically force Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson to have a shovel fight in the yard to determine which one gets the only think tank job. Money is power, but there’s a difference between having enough power to incent a few restaurant employees to make one coffee and dinner once or twice a day and having enough power to deploy a dedicated household staff of professional libelers against one’s enemies. Besides, normal people routinely have to make tradeoffs, going without some nice things in order to afford others. I, for one, eat better by sleeping in my car every two or three nights than I would by getting a room every night, so I don’t fucking care to have some planter-class asshole paying Tyler Cowen to lecture me about how I don’t often enough eat beans out of a tin. Fuck him.

That motherfucker has actually run his mouth about how times are getting tight and we, okay, not him, but the rest of us, will have to economize and make do with beans. At what point does our food insecurity stop deriving from there not being enough to eat in a nation with some of the most productive farms on earth and start deriving from the nation’s wealth being concentrated enough for those who possess it to afford to hire Tyler Cowen? If student debt is forcing graduates to eat Top Ramen, that’s fundamentally a debt peonage problem, not a food security problem. At some point, and we’re far past it, it becomes reasonable to tell the managerial class that we’ll throw them into the ship channel if they move our cheese again. Hell, in a functional, productive society, we’d all cut our own.

I’ve picked several tons of fruit commercially, so don’t look at me. If Travis Kalanick and Jeff Bezos are salty that any of us are privileged or stubborn enough not to be impressed into their servant precariat, that’s their wound to lick. The rest of us might as well stand back and snicker, accusing them of licking themselves. Remember, they exploit their inferiors for the same reason that a dog licks its own balls: because they can.

Rooms into which Lucretia walks: a disgusting tale of violence and extreme prejudice

From time to time my Facebook feed burps up a reposting of an old saw by Mark Twain about how travel is fatal to prejudice and shit. I believe “fatal to prejudice” is a verbatim excerpt, but I really don’t feel like looking any of that shit up for accuracy. It’s a twee, insipid, foolish sentiment, one of the great Victorian self-owns. Living in the bizarre hellworld of our current gilded age is excruciating, but at least we don’t have Mark Twain, a wildly successful novelist, directly lecturing an audience made up overwhelmingly of his socioeconomic inferiors about its duty to travel–basically, yo, get out and broaden your horizons, doggy–instead of considering the possibility that intractable circumstances having to do with their limited means prevented them from leaving town, meaning that one can’t necessarily afford to travel, nigga. At least I must hear of this happy horseshit only secondhand, a century and change after the fact.

No, I will not be looking up the date, either. I can place Twain’s gross, meretricious utterance in the correct part of the American socioeconomic cycle and opposite the correct suite of transportation technologies, and that’s enough. It was a time when one might have traveled to Cleveland by steamboat, or by train, also a steamer. You could have a water-level speed train, if you’d just lay down the tracks. *Peter Gabriel, one hand on the wireless, other hand caressing the emergency brake* Good God, this guy makes me sound normal. It was also a time when Cornelius Vanderbilt had his wife committed to an asylum for refusing to leave Staten Island. She must have preread Momma Leone’s Note.

This was not a healthy, balanced society. Mark Twain condescended to the homebody poor about the virtues of travel in the midst of a quite full human lifespan of intensifying vice and social dysfunction in his country. It’s my country, too, but it doesn’t always feel like it. Love it or leave it? I was looking into the Canadian immigration process under Harper and Obama, friend. By some measures, it took the Great Depression and the Second World War to put a stop to an orgy or elite rapacity and meddlesomeness that started around the time that the Erie Canal was completed. The precise dates are only vaguely important. Historians, such as I theoretically am at the bachelor’s level, get too fucking intellectually invested in idiotic trivia, basically chiding their peers and the noncredentialed about how the madman’s subway screed started at 17:35 on the Uptown 6 train, not at half past five on the 2 Train, while missing the part about how he wasn’t just muttering rudely about all the bitches he’d bang but was also explicitly threatening to gut his enemies with a bowie knife.

Direction notwithstanding, will I see YOU tonight? Just yesterday afternoon I saw a guy on the LA subway who was so violently insane, yelling at the top of his lungs on board the train about how there is no God and no Devil and he couldn’t find his daughter, that I flagged down a passing cop after we both got off, me for some extra space and him God only knows why. The cop thought that what I described sounded utterly routine (“We always have that”), but he came back a few minutes later to tell me that he’d shown the fellow the way out of the station. It was a fair enough point for the cop to think that I must not have been used to the neighborhood, but the guy on the train had been 1% of the 1% batshit insane, a blatant threat to the safety of anyone within lunging distance. He wasn’t just sitting on a bench muttering, “Smashed in his knees with a two-by-four; smashed in his knees with a sledge HAMMA!” In that case, I’d have found another bench, for some love away from my brother. I was, for better and worse, not his keeper, and the LAPD didn’t know what to do about our old boy yesterday other than to usher him upstairs, to be the Hollywood Division’s street beats’ problem. The subway was historically the LASD’s turf, but I guess, to paraphrase a lady on the Blue Line who was booked into jail not six hours after she showed me her citation for jumping fare, po lease think they the motherfucking sheriffs.

To be clear, I didn’t witness anything that looked remotely like police misconduct in the midst of this mess, and the cop I flagged down comported himself excellently. I wouldn’t have been as eager to alert him if he hadn’t looked so levelheaded. At the same time, I don’t think the department dealt with this guy as effectively as it should have. Casting him out of the darkness and bouncing him upstairs got him out of the confined spaces, and since it’s an especially bad idea to physically corner people who are so agitated, that was a big help, but there’s still an unaddressed public safety problem when someone who is so acutely agitated in public is turned into a departmental hot potato and bounced around from division to division and watch to watch until some cop who doesn’t mind the extra paperwork (and, let’s be honest, the overtime for filling it out) dumps him on Men’s Central Jail, turning him into the Sheriff’s Department’s custodial problem. Realistically, that’s where dude was headed and still is headed every time he’s out on the streets. It just isn’t likely that anyone, sworn or not, will reach out to offer him the psychiatric care he so urgently needs and divert him from the revolving door at Men’s Central.

Come to think of it, I’d be interested to hear the thoughts of Dion Joseph or someone else with equivalent experience on Skid Row about whether or not this guy was in fact way above the baseline for street crazy, as I thought. I know there’s some really gritty shit out on the streets, and I don’t assume that I have a comprehensive sense of how bad it gets. Maybe our friend from the subway isn’t out of the ordinary on Skid Row. In that case, it’s a damn scandal, because there are peaceable, decent people who are trying to get by there, and they don’t deserve to be menaced by the most violently insane people in the county any more than peaceable, decent people living in Westwood or Burbank or the Hollywood Hills.

Let’s not forget that this chaos, squalor, and privation isn’t festering in Lagos or Manila or Tegucigalpa, but in developed parts of Los Angeles. This is the situation in the second largest city in the United States. We have no fucking idea of how to address our national poverty problem. And it is a national problem. LA doesn’t have a homelessness problem just because it’s a wicked city that fails to take care of its own or tolerates vices that other places don’t. It’s a prime dumping ground for people from across the country who have been abandoned by their local governments and communities. It’s the Law of the Westbound Bus: that bus is headed west, and you, a bum, are getting on it. Wesley Willis, pray for us. You can bet the oil patch that the Kern County authorities send their undesirables over the hill when they can. (The Bay Area works, too.) In Capitalist Inland California, Grapevine hears it through YOU!

Those who can afford to travel out of town and overseas can afford a shitty crosstown bus transect. You’re interested in exploring the cultures of, like, Bali and Phuket and maybe Puerto Vallarta? How about Silver Lake, bitch? I have a number of first- and second-degree contacts who are into something that they like to call “Deep Travel.” Oddly, or not, it does go as deep as Florence and Normandie. I drove my parents across Normandie the day before Christmas Eve. The GPS suggested it. As a guy from Huntington Beach by way of Aliso Viejo said at Christmas dinner, wow, that’s deep LA. He’s right about that. Maybe the 405 is so backed up for a reason. Every asshole who wants to defund Metro has a cool story about how the automobile democratized Los Angeles, in contrast to rich New Yorkers in their cabs and limousines. LA not having mass transit or cabs must be why I took a cab ride and traveled another one or two hundred miles by Metro this calendar month.

Not knowing John Dennis Diddly about squat and cough about the most famous cities in our own country, we’re totally gonna learn lots of interesting shit about other countries if only we spend a week or two at a time visiting their luxury resorts. This is what the upper crusts and those catering to their travel interests mean by travel and cultural immersion. We can tell that they’re full of shit about cultural immersion, even if they aren’t deliberately bullshitting anyone, just by looking at the Indonesian prison system. That has to be one of the most genuine cultural immersion programs on the face of the earth. The Bali Nine weren’t planning to travel that deep, but, hey, two of them got to visit Nusakambangan as well. You wouldn’t believe how degraded the experience of air travel has gotten. Myuran Sukumaran was initially known to the police as “the negro,” but they shot four Nigerians alongside him, in addition to others in other midnight mass executions, plausibly enough because they were black.

The Southern Cross thing rattled quite a few Australians, and for good reason, but Americans (okay, not Frank Amado) are distant and sheltered enough from this particular violence to continue not giving a shit. Who is Frank Amado? Let’s put it this way: from a parochial American perspective, “Who is Frank Amado?” is worse than “What is Aleppo?” Indonesia, which has condemned an expatriate US citizen to death for drug trafficking, isn’t even our worst ally. It’s in the second or third tier for human rights violations among US foreign military aid recipients.

This is why Fat Leonard should be president. Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the United States: name the country, and he has a better human rights record than the incumbent.

Those who don’t and won’t learn about other cultures in their hometowns won’t learn jack shit about foreign cultures by swooping in, hanging out for a few days, and then launching back out, but we don’t often hear about how fucking ignorant the jet set is because it’s a set that’s basically never told point blank that it’s full of shit. No one has the nerve to tell these people, uh, no, you’re wrong about that. Who’s around them when they travel abroad? The local intelligentsia (Lenin: “The intellectuals are not society’s brains, but its shit”), other Westernized elites (Lenin again), merchants, and servants. This is not a representative cross-section; it’s a fucking Tom Friedman column. Friedman isn’t surrounded by people who tell him that he’s full of shit, either. #TeshTips: Hotel staff are recruited and paid to put up with bullshit from ugly Americans. Construe to apply to other nationalities as needed; we aren’t the only ones.

God is it a surreal elite conceit to believe that servants are honest about touchy subjects with those they serve and that they aren’t actually servants anyhow. Sure, your Uber driver is your social equal, and I’m Junipero Serra.

Travel doesn’t inherently broaden horizons. That’s as insane as thinking that one’s daughter may be on the train, so maybe one should open the door and lunge into the next car while that fine-ass rolling socialism is swaying around at 70 miles an hour. For most bourgeois travelers, let alone the hardcore elites, it narrows perspectives and confirms prejudices. Like, Van Nuys and Compton are gross, ew, so let’s go somewhere overseas where the poors aren’t so uppity. Why can’t America’s lower classes be more like our waitstaff at the Sandals Resort? People actually think like this, maybe not explicitly but definitely to an extent that warps their perceptions of reality, and then they turn out at elections.

The greatest sin here, the greatest affront to truth, is that most of them won’t admit that that they’re trying to get away from unpleasantness, and in some cases won’t even admit that there is anything unpleasant that they might possibly want to flee. I’ll admit that I’ve been holed up in Starbucks for a couple of hours because Starbucks isn’t all fucked up like 7-Eleven or the average bodega. I try to do business with companies that aren’t all fucked up. That’s a little itty-bitty something to make the world an imperceptibly better place. One reason why I so appreciate this joint is that I got coffee the other day at a 7-Eleven in Twentynine Palms and I do not feel like doing that again.

Is it too much to ask my fellow Americans to pay some fucking attention to our own godforsaken society? Is it too much to ask people who are mentally capable of paying attention to get their heads out of their asses and do so from time to time? Instead of engaging the world, maybe we should engage our own fucking society. That was unfortunate but inevitable; I can’t forget the sorts of internationally meddlesome dipshits who studied alongside me at *MY OLD SCHOOL.* Great, another fool who goes on service trips to the Caribbean but never takes SEPTA at home. There’s no end to this crap. Can’t we at least, though, admit when we’re fleeing something unpleasant? I suppose I’d rather go hiking in upcountry Mexico than watch the mentally ill wander around Silver Lake in a state of chronic disorientation and collide with street thugs who never deal with their own severe behavioral problems. That’s why I take the subway when I’m in town. I know, that went just great yesterday.

Could we have some humility, though? Ivan Illich was openly working through some profound psychological and existential problems in his writing, but he was onto something when he got all, like, hey, feel free to come down here for a hike, but for the love of God don’t come here to lecture us. He would have loved the deal where Busboy’s girlfriend had to pay rent to live in a school bus under a slumlord’s authority in order to save up money to go volunteer at the women’s collective in Nicaragua or wherever the fuck she meant to do that. That’s why she had to live half a stone’s throw down the hill from Pot-o-Shit Friend’s all too humble abode. I’m the one who complained to code enforcement about that clusterfuck. In English. In the same county. Near where I often drive for a lengthy coffee break from shit that I don’t have the energy to fix.

I suppose Illich would have needed another handle of tequila for the story about my cousins who flew from San Francisco to London to Accra and then drove north for hours to show the Mohammedans the “Jesus film,” instead of maybe staying home in Humboldt County to try to socially orient the tweaker problem in a way that they might possibly do something positive about it. We never care to bless our own damn rains. This was the same crew that boldly decided not to cancel its travel plans after its local contact, from the Christian South, was beaten nearly to death over a fatal road accident. If that’s Christianity, lose me with that thumper shit. Oh, and this is fun: most of the congregation and even most of the mission group described the heavily English-speaking country where they had gone to minister to non-Anglophone Muslims in the rather near aftermath of sectarian violence “Africa.” I don’t need to bless anyone’s rains when I can instead bless the efforts of any interested Ghanaian to describe Reno as part of California. That’s beyond fair.

I’m on the road yet again, so I’m in no position to lecture other Americans to learn to be still, but learn to be still, bitch.