Down on the Motherfucking Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Steamertown USA

All the little kids growing up on the skids say, hey, what’s wrong with him? My sleep patterns, mainly. On alternating nights I’ve been jarred awake by a Next-Gen 737 with surprisingly bad pressurization at 0500 Central and a conductor telling me that we were coming into Cleveland at 0525 Eastern. In the intervening night I slept, no joke, from about four in the afternoon until nine the next morning, with an eleven o’clock snack break for the remainder of a bag of chili lime cashews and some coffee. This is not normal, so what the hell do any of you expect of me?

Cleveland isn’t quite as fucked up as it should be, but it isn’t in great shape, either. It manufactured more stuff back when the fire department had to put out the river, so that much is a mixed blessing, but it’s since fallen into quite a bit of neoliberal marketeering horseshit: a casino in Terminal Tower, the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, a bus called the HealthLine. Meanwhile I couldn’t find a ticket vending machine in the light rail station by the Amtrak depot, which is out by not much more than a dumbass science museum and a wind turbine even though I was on the only train that comes through after, like, three in the morning (surely one must be lonely!). I ended up entering the station backwards and walking out through a gate that had been left open all night. What is this, a Prince number from “Twilight Zone: The Musical?” I’ve been on a shitload of mass transit systems, and I don’t think that would have been normal had I been normally awake.

The Amtrak schedules can’t help, and neither can the condition of the Amtrak depot, but the state of Ohio never seems interested in subsidizing additional service at less fucked up hours of the day. I don’t entirely get the state-level politics behind these decisions, e.g., why Michigan has kept up its Amtrak subsidies, but there’s probably a strong class, racial, and political fuckery angle here. As a body politic, the suburbanites really have it in for Cleveland and Cincinnati, where there be Negroes. Other sorts of po’ folk, too, and Democrats. I believe it was Parma that was for a time the largest city in the United States without a mass transit system. Cleveland and Cincinnati have really neat urban cores, definitely neater than Columbus, but the political and business interest in investing in them is spotty and flaky. Hence light rail stations that look like they were abandoned by a late-stage Polish politburo that didn’t think to turn off the lights. Hence, also, all the tourist trap gimcrackery.

This bullshit was a long time coming. The most exquisite description I’ve heard of Cleveland in the sixties, from my mom, was that the blacks on the East Side and the Slavs on the West Side periodically squared off in race riots while the Italians and the Jews looked on. I can’t help but admire the diaspora Joel/Fischer/Buttafuoco crowd for treating that as a spectator sport. My uncle really should have married an Italian girl. What’s wrong with the Italians complements what’s wrong with the Jews, which complements what’s wrong with the Italians in return, while the Jews and the Poles are too busy with their semi-Semitic bum fight to compliment one another. *Very Temple Clinger Suburban Pollack Voice* Whoop Whoop Compliment. Nah, I shouldn’t be so harsh on that spergy mofo: I’ve never gotten any indication that he understands Jews as a concept, and he’s unfiltered enough that if he did he’d surely have something ridiculous to say about them on Facebook.

Or about us, since I’m Jewish enough for Hitler, and my self-loathing Jew of an uncle with the Polish/Shanty Mick wife doubly so. She’s the one I’ve sometimes been tempted to tell that I’d seen her possible paternal relatives from Staten Island at Hersheypark, but I think they were Black Irish.

#RaceTogether, bitch. The Dirty Dog will be here to pick me up soon enough and I’m already Too Very Online, so until we convene again, full steam abreast!

Advent for assholes

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

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

Okay, to England. Cheerio, cunts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step into Christmas before Christmas steps into you.

I’m sure this is literally the worst thing a nurse ever did in Indiana

While Eli Lilly was out running more Tuskegee-grade medical experiments on Indy’s homeless, a newly licensed RN got fired from what sounds like her first job at IU Health for publishing a tasteless but Brandenburg-compliant tweet about the awfulness of white boys and the white mothers who raise them to be so awful:

“Every white woman raises a detriment to society when they raise a son. Someone with the HIGHEST propensity to be a terrorist, rapist, racist, killer, and domestic violence all star. Historically every son you had should be sacrificed to the wolves Bitch”

That’s certainly an indulgence in grand hyperbole and an offense to English composition, and homegirl used some dubious, muddled crime statistics. A scrubbed account under the same handle, @tai_fieri (hey now, haven’t the West Coast Italians been white meat since, like, 1850?), makes Taiyesha Baker out to have pulled a Cella with a professional license, but it isn’t clear whether her account got taken over by MAGA trolls after she deleted it or she reopened it to troll the shitlords.

The least disturbing thing about this scandal is that a nurse wrote some obnoxiously racist shit on a personal Twitter account that appeared to have been semi-anonymous, showing her face and using a handle based on her given name but not directly disclosing her legal name. We’ve apparently got internet sleuths doxing a junior nurse and ratting her out to her bosses. This is vicious, officious behavior that should be strongly discouraged. We’ve got dozens of the creepiest fucking right-wing nutjob sites aggregating this story that really amounts to a nurse being rude online and whipping it up into a moral panic. Human resources is involved, and that means that we’re the resources. Specifically, we have a hospital HR department throwing a new hire under the bus, scapegoating her as a one-off threat to patient welfare and safety, which, statistically, is closer to an absolute impossibility than an extreme improbability. It’s funny, but no one in HR ever says, gee, I’m a fucking grandstanding useless eater with n skill set and no ambition to lead any sort of reputable or productive life, so I think I’ll go fly a sign down by the freeway instead of shitting on someone who just passed a bunch of nursing classes and the NCLEX-RN for being mean online.

Nurse Baker sounds rather prejudiced, possibly unto bigotry, but take a fucking look at the creeps she’s riled up. I, for one, find it impossible not to fully and unabashedly take her side, not to endorse everything she wrote but to rebuke everyone who is willing to turn into a monster in order to punish junior employees like her for engaging in rude dissent.

A tweet montage assembled by PJ media (not sure I want to link to it in case it’s a cesspool, so feel free to look it up yourselves) included an all too apt complaint about racial prejudice in department stores: “Yt women steal more than anyone. they used to fuck nordstrom up. Only blacks got followed by lost prevention tho.” (Sic.) I don’t doubt this for a fucking second; that sort of shit is notorious, a serious, ongoing scandal that realistically will be brought to an end only with undercover stings followed by lawsuits.

Baker also complained about ammosexual white colleagues, and again, as much as I support broad gun rights for hunters and sport shooters and wish anti-gun elements wouldn’t be so ignorant and prejudiced about those who use guns responsibly, I’m all for the ridicule of ammosexual dipshits, who are a separate constituency from normal hunters and shooters. Hunting is a legitimate, useful folkway. I find sport shooting a bit foolish and frivolous, but there’s nothing really objectionable about it if it’s done safely, and every shooting instructor I ever had in the BSA was openly ready to rip any of us a new one for being reckless, inattentive, or, God forbid, insubordinate on the range. I’m glad I’ve done some sport shooting, then, and that I know how to use a gun safely. This is totally separate from believing that yahoos who think they’ll be able to charge into some shootout like Bat Masterson and successfully neutralize the combatants with a Glock that they keep in the purse are sacrosanct and beyond criticism.

This entire uproar is over political speech. There would be no way to fire every nurse who has noxious or bizarre political beliefs and still have a working healthcare system. And doctors? Holy shit, do you realize how many docs make Radovan Karadzic sound like Vaclav Havel? Physicians, surgeons, and for that matter dentists tend towards some fucking horrific politics. They believe some really bonechilling stuff. Some of it is about race, most of it is about class, and when it’s about race it’s reliably also about class. There’s a disturbing, credible body of research indicating that medical prejudice results in significantly worse treatment and outcomes for minority and poor patients, often due to implicit, not explicit, bias.

Coarse online venting or barstool talk is a red herring. The actual threats to patient welfare occur in actual clinical settings and involve actual clinical practices, just as anyone with any fucking sense would assume. A nurse who got her license last month has senior colleagues, charge nurses, and physicians regularly keeping an eye on her work. If she’s mistreating patients and the other staff on her floor aren’t out to lunch, they’ll catch her. This is basic shit.

The perfect is the enemy of the good here. We are never going to have a medical sector whose staff have flawless politics, and we’re fucking retarded if we think that this is even worth attempting. Policing clinicians’ off-duty political lives inevitably results in more staff disgruntlement, worse patient treatment and outcomes, higher staff turnover, and an ever worsening healthcare system. The sort of people who most successfully navigate politicized workplaces are the most manipulative and dishonest. More than a few of them are outright psychopaths. Taiyesha Baker was run out of her first professional job, and likely blacklisted, not for being politically controversial but for practicing poor social media opsec. HR, by gruesome contrast, is full of disingenuous, fake, craven shitbirds who have no principle whatsoever and are easily capable of Eichmann-grade institutional cruelty. These are the ones who are careful with their social media profiles. These are the ones who self-censor and stay on brand. Baker doesn’t scare me; these creeps do.

A well-run hospital or clinic has institutional controls in place to ensure that patients don’t fall victim to poor care for any reason. That includes purposeful mistreatment or neglect informed by the bigoted personal views of individual clinicians. But professional standards are maintained in the workplace, not by hounding employees after hours and ratting them out over politically inflammatory rhetoric that has no bearing on their professional lives. If a nurse is walking the floor muttering, “Damn, I fucking hate crackers,” that’s a problem. If a nurse vents about troublesome patients or colleagues (who most assuredly exist) away from the floor, that’s a safety valve, and probably a crucial one. Hospitals are full of aggravating people and situations, so of course the staff are going to have impolitic things to say about them. HR and other admin scum scrupulously pretend otherwise because they’re sheltered predators who will never concede their own great fitness for defenestration. That’s another great Central European political tradition, czech it out, but don’t worry, no one on the admin wing has heard of Havel, either.

Maybe the only people worse than people who admit to having vicious personal beliefs are those who successfully pretend that they don’t have vicious personal beliefs. That’s who runs modern neoliberal society. Everywhere we go in mainstream society we’re governed from some snakepit. It’s all too plain to see that the caliber of “human resources” “professionals” (I should have given prior warning to ready the airsickness bag) who fire the likes of Taiyesha Baker are incalculably worse and more dangerous than Taiyesha Baker. Does she sound like she has what it takes to get into corporate management today? Hell no. That’s why we should be on guard around those who know when to keep their mouths shut. Or as they say in Alabama, Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth.

No, Neil Young is not the most interesting Canadian. No reason they can’t sing that same tune north of the mighty Ohio, even on the banks of–my God, this is true; what surreal providence–the White River. This is like learning of Joey Buttafuoco all over again. It’s better than the possible existence of Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend. He may be a crisis actor for all I know, but it’s a good story. I’m publishing some rude, problematic #content here, too, but HR is what we get by endlessly seeking out politics that are safe for work.

Enough gendered comments about nurses, though. This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned that men can be nurses, too, and it won’t be the last. Nurse Lynn Majors? Ooh, she sounds sexy! Yes, you’re right about that. He’s dead sexy.

Don’t be surprised to read that; be surprised that it didn’t come up earlier. It was a long time coming. So was Mike Pence getting a bunch of people sickened and killed by blocking a needle exchange program in Scott County, but they were his constituents, not his patients, and whatever it is, you’re allowed to do it if you call it policy. Or if you call yourself Eli Lilly, apparently.

Lynn Majors may be the sexiest thing ever to happen to nursing, but I keep getting the feeling that he’s far from the worst thing to happen to it, just as I keep getting the feeling that Taiyesha Baker isn’t the worst thing to happen to Indiana’s white community. It’s not like he cleaned up well enough to get hired at Terre Haute, where they also keep a clean needle and drug supply, or like she got deployed to Vancouver fresh out of Depot. I might be literally shocked to see Gerry Rundel on the scene, but I wouldn’t to hear him rue the day he quit that fishing gig.

You know who’s all about staying on brand these days, though? That’s right: one Kwesi Sekou Millington. #CommunicateToCreate! Just in case Hitler wasn’t enough of an embarrassment to vegetarianism and the health cult, our old boy who sued the CBC for damaging his reputation is pitching something called Meatless Muscle, too. That’s what happens when you actually kill a white guy instead of going online to complain about white people. I’m sure the Dziekanski family is relieved that his problem isn’t with honkies, just with agitated guys.

We’re all living in a Black Mirror episode; I’m just trying to do a little something to chronicle it.

Hey, I just said “black!” Guess I’m not getting a job with language like that.

That time Little Charlie rose to the occasion wasn’t the worst of it

Lordy, here I go again up to Old New England, where they also don’t so much pronounce their ahze, on a mission to get Charlie off. CHAHLEE!

Sure, Charlie Rose sounds pretty gross in private, but television is overflowing with talent (sic, often unto death) that’s shockingly gross by any decent standard in public and on purpose. Just the certainty that Rose’s hotel room and mansion appearances, toweled and otherwise, were not Bernaysian mass mind control works strongly in the droning geezer’s favor. A full hour of Charlie Rose making noticeably erect pelvic thrusts through his sweatpants on the LA Metro Gold Line would be less painful than the average minute of DeGeneres, E.

That name. They aren’t even trying to be subtle anymore. I was able to specify the agency, route, and clothing above because I once had the misfortune of witnessing exactly that on the part of a fellow much crazier, less handsome, and more disheveled than Charlie Rose on the way into Pasadena. I suppose I could have called 911 or some shit, but what would have been the point? There were already too many deputies and rentacops on the trains, mostly for over-the-top fare enforcement; as a fellow inbound Blue Line passenger complained to me upon receipt of her citation and not five hours before she was booked into jail for the night, “Sheriffs think they the motherfucking po lease!” On the letter of the law, she was all kinds of wrong, but civically she wasn’t too far off the mark.

Will I see YOU tonight? Amtrak runs the only train through Reno, so no. Instead I have television to keep me company in our common time of thanks. I’ve already managed to catch bits of Live PD and Chrisley Knows Best, and I didn’t come across anything so brain-deadening at Donner Pass last night, so I’m not off to the best start. I also tuned halfway in to Jeopardy, more because why not than why, and didn’t actively enough tune out the utterly meretricious human interest story of the day on the local news, about a homeless veteran in Philadelphia who got $160,000 in contributions a viral GoFundMe page set up by the stranded couple he bought gas with his last $20. Methodically and reliably giving a larger number of the down and out more manageable sums of money must not be heartwarming enough for this Satanic nation. I keep feeling bad that I dogged on the Dunkin’ Doorman for pestering me for a mere 20% cut of my lost and immediately found money. I got curt with a guy who may have the most middle-class set of values in Atlantic City, just because he was a whiny pain in my ass.

The couple that set up the GoFundMe page are distributing extra money to other homeless, but it’s still striking that they didn’t gross $160k in a week or whatever by setting up an general-purpose page to fund relief for the homeless. We are ever so fucked up to get our heartstrings arbitrarily tugged by this cloyingly sappy shit. The corporate powers that greenlight cherry-picked feel-good stories about do-gooders in a time of pervasive, unmet need that they deliberately fail to cover are plainly evil. As a people, we absolutely should not feel good about ourselves because we are objectively bad to one another. That’s the painful truth, and I don’t give a shit how offensive anyone finds it. It SHOULD be scandalous.

In this context, I can deal with some fucking Charlie Rose. The guy can be rather tendentious and self-serious, but he has a nice underrepresented regional accent, not another case of the House Voice. I don’t have the damnedest clue of what he finds so compelling about plain black studio backgrounds, but I’ve seen worse. Actually, on second thought, he’s probably just subtly communicating that we’re all groping our way haphazardly through life, gazing as we go into the featureless void.

Hey, I just said “grope!”

Correction: Hey hey hey! Do we not all want it? Do we not all want to hug, or at least to rhyme?

Charlie Rose will never be as bad as Nightly Business Report. Other than World News Tonight and the local weather report, that’s what I really watched this evening. To return to our topic from the other day about reasons why PBS doesn’t actually need or deserve our viewer support, that shit is produced by CNBC. Maybe it can also be funded by CNBC, then. They’re up to their eyeballs in corporate money; why the fuck do they need our money to air that shit, too?

When I was thinking about not writing this screed, it occurred to me that NBR must have terrible ratings and therefore be an inconsequential curiosity. On second thought, I realized that however bad its ratings are, its audience turns out to vote and probably does more than its expected share of bitching to elected officials until it gets its way, so I guess it’s worth a look.

Aesthetically, NBR is a small group of boring af bougies who are totally on Xanax, but small, carefully calibrated, old money doses, not holy Mother of God I’ll flip my shit and get fired and end up out on the street if I don’t get my ass medicated new money doses. Charlie don’t care how much Xanax he’s popping, and he dun’t care if you care, either. NBR’s target audience tends towards Group 2, intersectional problem drinkers who will never quite feel socioeconomically secure. That, by the way, is the group I’m most smug about exposing for its substance abuse problems; it’s always lecturing someone conveniently other than itself for not being disciplined and sober enough to function properly in our ever-changing economy.

The social attitudes on display here are functions of socioeconomic upbringing, but not in any straightforward way. I know for a fact that anxious, backstabbing new money includes the children of financial millionaires with terminal degrees. That’s the Insurance Shmuck, for one thing. He’s the one who was all like, oh, no, I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol until my senior year, all I had was an entire bottle of Nyquil at bedtime every weeknight until my rowdy drunk-ass rebound girlfriend told me she was worried about my health and got me to binge-drink hard liquor at least four nights a week. (I paraphrase, of course; it’s useful sometimes to edit for clarity.)

When I was little, I used to pick up bits of Louis Rukeyser’s shows when my dad was watching them in the kitchen. I remember Rukeyser having a combination of unabashed but reputable personality and natural poise that’s missing from television today, much as Fred Rogers bequeathed his children’s television tradition to the assholes who came up with Barney the Dinosaur and Dora the Explorer. What I remember from the old Rukeyser shows and Nightly Business Report episodes in the eighties and nineties was a surprisingly charming host would yuk it up with some pleasant and functional enough dork who’d just researched a class of hella obscure stocks that might be worth buying. It was never a do-or-die horror show in which the entire audience had to put aside at least ten percent of its inexorably stagnating wages in the face of unpayable student debt or never be able to retire. The wicked returns meant being able to buy a nice car or fund the kids’ college accounts early, not possibly avoiding medical bankruptcy with some good planning and better luck.

Obviously, this sort of programming is directed at a well-to-do, educated audience, and when I first started seeing segments of it I was too young to fully appreciate it, but certain ugly aspects of other television were clearly absent. There was no forced, contrived abundance mentality; it was understood that the audience was in a position to build personal wealth from a foundation of genuine stability and prosperity. For the same reasons, there was no air of investor coercion; that is, the stock market wasn’t being pitched as the only way for a yuppie to stay afloat in an increasingly unstable, unpredictable, and dysfunctional economy. That ramped up under Clinton and Bush II and went entirely off the rails around the Bush-Obama transition, which was of course also when the international economy crashed violently into the shitter. Meanwhile, overtly commercial investment broadcasting, always a somewhat cruder art, went completely fucking bonkers, taking on raging nutcases like Jim Cramer, who was fit to be shot with a wildlife tranquilizing dart.

Barring a few grossly overhyped wildcard situations, the dice have been cast for the last time for the Baby Boomers. They’ve got what’s coming their way, or, more commonly, not got what’s not coming their way. Gen X is a boring segment for the marketeers, but that still leaves me and my (mostly younger) people, the eternally shit-upon Millennials, not to mention whatever metapostmodern gobbledygook we’ll be told to call the crop of rising young adults as they continue to mature into twentagers.

This really is some fucking Francis Fukuyama shit, a horizon beyond which there’s nothing. Millennials are infamously workshy, but it might be worth considering that we’ve become detached from the workforce because there aren’t any damn jobs. Five million-some jobs in the United States alone vanished into a fourth-turning secular economic catastrophe between 2008 and 2009. The workforce participation rate dropped by five points year over year and has stagnated ever since. A measurable percentage of the population doesn’t suddenly up and say take this job, bundle it with all other possible jobs, and shove it. If a job that doesn’t require advanced formal education isn’t illegally reserved for immigrants (often illegal), it’s reliably some shady 1099 bullshit like Uber. The social ties that might lead the unemployed out of this nightmare have disintegrated across huge swathes of the native stock.

Nightly Business Report’s coverage of this burgeoning dystopian precarity is understated on strictly artistic terms, but it’s a fucking shitshow. NBR takes several clashing premises that can’t possibly fit together and pretends that they somehow cohere into a navigable whole. First there’s the chronic assumption that the working affluent deserve magical returns on their financial investments because they already have lucrative jobs. This is ridiculously inequitable, but in times of more or less broad prosperity it might not be a disaster. Since we’re going through times of uncontrollably growing precarity with no real sign of relief, though, we get to add the premises that:

–individual workers need to goose the shit out of their retirement accounts if they want to have any hope of retiring, and they’d be fools not to make maximum employer-matched contributions if their employers offer them;

–lol jk, individual workers can’t afford to fund their 401(k) accounts because what would have been discretionary income twenty or forty years ago is now devoted to student debt that they can barely afford to service;

–but it really doesn’t matter in the end, because this fitness class in Palm Springs and this other geezer who we found in Burbank taking classes to be a background actor prove that the elderly have no plans to retire.

By the way, our aspiring background actor lost a logistics business to the Second Great Depression, and NBR mentioned in passing that the percentage of employees whose employers offer pensions has dropped from something like 90% to 30% in thirty years. Yeah, I’m sure that just happened. I’m not convinced that the pension figures weren’t somehow garbled by sloppy research, but it’s indeed true that defined-benefit pensions have mysteriously vanished from the private sector, and that labor unions have mysteriously vanished over the same timeframe. This must have just been some inscrutable act of God having nothing whatsoever to do with leverage buyout thugs breaking the meatpackers’ union in Albert Lea and then doing the same thing thousands of times over in dozens of industries in practically every state of the Union.

Medical expenses got a brief mention on NBR tonight, too. You may not have a union in your shop or anywhere on the horizon, but did you know that doctors are still unionized, even in avowedly open shops? It’s called the American Medical Association. The worst rentiers in medicine, however, either get MBA’s or sell out to the MBA’s and go into hospital administration. But again, none of this has anything to do with the uncontrollably rising costs of medical care and health insurance.

Like hell we’re going to strategically invest and reskill our way out of this dystopia. PBS, which is actually CNBC, has some nerve to imply that we will. It never ceases to amaze me how modest and civic the Dunkin’ Doorman is in his whiny calls for alms, but that’s the difference between funding a coffee habit on Sunday morning and funding five nights of neoliberal atigprop a week.

We’ll need more than a stiff cup to stay woke for this fight.

Death cult

The Democratic Party’s awesome corruption, contempt for its own voters, and dysfunction as an opposition might be amusing if the major party opposite it weren’t an absolute horror show. We, the people to which the elected are answerable, were denied a decent choice among the two viable presidential candidates last year.

For that reason alone I’m unmoved by all the apoplexy directed at third-party voters who refused to be sheepdogged. Clinton as the only bulwark against Trump was a fucking disgrace, and so, increasingly so as his administration unfolds, was Trump as the only bulwark against Clinton. I seriously considered voting for Trump before bunking down on the Stein Steamer for the last week or two, and I probably would have voted for him had I been registered in a swing state. A close Republican friend of mine voted for Gary Johnson in spite of the “What is Aleppo?” moment, which appalled him, because he believed that Trump was a usurper of the party’s leadership. Another Republican friend told me, “I voted for Clinton and immediately felt bad about it afterwards.” Both of these guys are lifelong Pennsylvanians, so it was other, more downmarket, sorts who got the Trump Train over the hill there. They both have politics that I’m sure would be harmful to the country if scaled up, but they’re true class acts, and I was especially offended by the prospect of the reluctant Clinton voter believing that he had no option but to support someone he abhorred because the only alternative looked even worse.

I don’t think it’s too much to demand that politicians offer us a positive reason to show up and vote for them. If voters individually conclude that the best thing they can do with their vote is to support the least of the evils, I’m fine with that, but I don’t take well to being ordered how to vote. Nope, that’s my decision to make as an individual, because the franchise is granted to the individual, as I’ve been arguing since 2004, when friends in the Newman Club were advancing what amounted to the collectivization of the franchise on behalf of the Catholic Church. I take my individual duty as a voter seriously and go into it as maturely and well-informed as I can; if other individual voters are frivolous or ignorant in their voting habits, that ain’t my damn problem. I don’t mind positive arguments on behalf of a candidate I despise and distrust, even Hillary, but barking at me how to vote? Fuck off, champ.

It’s surprising in retrospect that I caught such flak from establishment Democrats for withholding my vote from Abuela and none from Magaland, which was teeming with creepy authoritarians. I guess it was because I was an apostate from the Democratic Party cult (which I had never actually joined in the first place; I had compelling policy reasons to campaign for John Kerry). It’s easy to lose sight of what a recent development the incursion of cult authoritarians into the mainstream of the Democratic Party has been. Historically, the Democrats have been the undisciplined, disorganized, easy-come easy-go party, repeatedly floundering before the Republican war machine. Funny thing, though: when they tried to go full Churchill on every Republican beach last year, they fucking choked.

What is “Wisconsin?”

One of the morals here is that it’s really tricky to fight fire with fire. Voters figured the Democrats were out to burn them, too, and that if they wanted that they’d have taken a creepy firebug ex-lover in Spanaway. That’s barely on topic, but it’s more fun than anything you’ll hear from the centrists, and you’d be a brame fool to think otherwise. No, the Democratic Party is not, dare we say, sound. This prattle will end when it feels like ending, and it’s still going to show the perezidential faction to be a bunch of out-of-touch retards. *Shit. Shit. Shit.* Voters may trust a campaign that’s businesslike if has a decent conception of the public business (Sanders), but we don’t much care for a campaign that can’t take a joke, can’t make a joke, and treats us, the constituents it’s trying to win, as the joke. That’s why it’s generally a good thing when the candidate who goes on Ellen to do the nae-nae loses, and to resalt that beautiful wound, yes, Virginia, she fucking lost.

But to what? That’s the sick part. I was eager to give the Donald the benefit of the doubt, a chance to show that he was governing in the public interest. Maybe the honeymoon lasted longer than it should have, but it’s looking pretty bad now. Trump got over the top by appealing to distressed, disgruntled workaday voters with gushing talk of populist restraints on big business. By this standard alone, ignoring all the civil liberties and due process violations of his administration (especially on immigrants), he’s a failure. He was not elected to have some corporate shitbird at the FCC repeal net neutrality rules. That did not happen.

Steve Bannon, for all his faults, has been out for months, and with him his advocacy for a more cohesive core American society. The social fabric has been fraying so badly and for so long that someone had to step in and point the way towards its reinforcement. Bannon filled a void that the neoliberal corporatocracy deliberately created. Having the hubris to assume that such a vacuum is sustainable doesn’t make it so, and sure enough, it’s a vacuum no more. Natural law enforces itself in due course of time, and Bannon happened to be the instrument closest at hand when that time came.

But, again, he’s out, so positive law and military-industrial complex hubris are back. And Bannon led just one of several bickering factions within the Trump administration, the rest of them flagrantly venal. GOP establishment crooks were never going to do anything good for the country, and neither were a Stepford Wife like Ivanka, the inbred Don-Don and Eric duo, and the ridiculous Anthony Scaramucci in the family business and cronies faction. This is presumably why we keep business separate from family.

Then there’s Donald Trump’s own raging bigotry. The guy isn’t just foul; he actually looks insane.

Ronald Reagan dogwhistled to the worst elements of the Hard South by starting his 1980 campaign with a speech on states’ rights in Mississippi, the Clintons dogwhistled more subtly but also more destructively, and even Mocha Haole crudely played the good cop to the usual squad of bad cops in his efforts at Community policing, but no matter how vile they were, they had a strong appearance of self-control, of not entirely believing their own bullshit. They were deploying talking points to pander to evil but influential elements of the electorate, so there was at least a faint hope that they might be won over to less evil stances if the political winds shifted or towards discreet moderation if they were given some cover.

Trump, in stark contrast, is constantly fuming unfiltered about the craziest, most reprehensible chain e-mail urban legends and news-talk hoaxes. If he didn’t actually believe this shit, he wouldn’t carry on about it on a social media account that he personally operates. This is separate from his habit of dissing other celebrities and politicians. This is the shit everyone’s deranged, dubiously employable uncle does. Pandering to bigots is reprehensible, but it’s a rational response to bad incentives, so strong counterincentives can be used to limit it. This is different. The highest elected official in the land is constantly mouthing off with his schizoid delusions of persecution. The fucking President of the United States of America is acting like all the paranoid authoritarian assholes who go on Twitter to report leftist shitposters to the Secret Service account and post pictures of Jeff Sessions under the caption “Court is in Session.” (Wrong: he’s just the AG, dumbass; his own horrified colleagues shot down his bid for that federal judgeship.)

This is a crisis of leadership far worse than impulsive rudeness. It isn’t just bad manners. It isn’t just a breach of horseshit Sorkinian norms. It’s a genuine governing crisis. The chief executive of an imperial juggernaut of over three hundred million residents is showing overt signs of mental incompetency and incapacitation. Worse, the batshit insane behavior in question has been normalized, in large part because the president himself is allowed to engage in it without consequence. Congress has not brought articles of impeachment against him on the basis that he’s behaving rashly and belligerently towards innocent parties and blatantly out of his goddamn mind.

But why would it? Trump is the first Fox News president (as well as the first Extremely Online president), but his party, which controls Congress, loves it some Fox News. If they’re comfortable showing their hand so promiscuously, it’s probably because they’ve already normalized every noxious thought process and behavior in question and assume that their constituents consider it all equally normal.

Fume all you like about Trump, because the bottom line is that he’d be neutralized if he were presiding opposite a Democratic or hostile Republican Congress. If Congress actually took an adversarial stance towards him (as so longwindedly encouraged in so many of our nation’s founding documents) he’d be a mere nuisance, and he might well no longer be in office. Congress has the authority to remove the President, whose very title of office was chosen by the framers of the Constitution to convey its tenuousness. The president merely presides over the government from the executive branch; he does not reign or command. The framers hoped that Congress wouldn’t frivolously or lightly remove presidents from office, but they also made it explicit that they considered it a congressional duty to hold presidents accountable as coequal officials, not be subservient to their majesty. Congress obviously has the constitutional prerogative and duty to impeach and remove unfit presidents. If a critical mass of its members determine that the sitting President is unfit for office, they’re completely within their rights to haul his ass up to Capitol Hill and say, listen, dipshit, you do not get an entire term to act like a fucking shit-flinging paranoid schizophrenic in public, because that is not within the scope of your office.

As so often is the case, hardly anyone in power actually gives a shit about principles or norms. Trump’s bizarre outbursts have been so normalized on the right that they’re hardly even an embarrassment to his fellow Republicans. Let’s not kid ourselves: Clinton got impeached by Democrats for being an embarrassment and by Republicans (including our old boy J. Denny Dundiddly) for being a cheap and easy target, so if the GOP Congressional Caucus decides that his bullshit has gotten tiresome and off-brand for the party, they know where to find the levers to catapult his ass back to Mar-a-Lago.

The Republican Caucus tolerates Trump because he and his people cooperate with their grotesque, brazen agenda of nihilistic evil. That’s what the Republican Party has become. Formerly a party of stewards, it is now a party of murderers, rapists, slavers, kidnappers, and vandals. Reagan had a vindictively destructive side, especially vis-√†-vis labor unions, and this was excruciatingly ironic and hypocritical for a former SAG president, but even at his worst, shitcanning PATCO en masse and standing back while private capital busted meatpackers’ unions across the Midwest, he was positively restrained and public-spirited compared to those who have come after him in his name.

It’s never the real pirates who hoist the Jolly Roger. We’ve mentioned net neutrality already. Ajit Pai and his crew are obviously out to help the trusts shake down the public for access to infrastructure that was funded and built by DARPA. The Republicans are the ones who tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a working replacement, endangering the lives of sick infants, special-needs patients, and every other medically vulnerable population that the Republican Party’s own sincerely pro-life constituency spends its own energy and treasure protecting to the best of its ability. It’s overwhelmingly Republican politicians who have sandbagged Medicaid expansion at the state level and tried to repeal it at the federal level.

It’s the GOP, inevitably, that is now trying to force through its fresh hell of a tax “reform” bill. Student interest will no longer be deductible, but private jet costs will. This is more nihilism. The Republicans are up on their burn down the ivory tower bullshit again. Anti-intellectualism generally comes from a place of nihilism, and this crew is really vicious about it. They aren’t looking to oversee federal grants to universities more closely; they’re looking to force an already grievously indebted alumni population even deeper into crushing student debt and indiscriminately cut off grant funding wherever they can out of spite.

There are a couple of huge problems here. First, the student debt: 44 million Americans carry student debt, a number eerily close to the 46 or so million who were reported as going without medical insurance during the Clinton Administration. If lenders are in trouble with this class of debt because it’s bad (they in fact are not, and it isn’t), why the hell isn’t it their problem for not having done due diligence? Unsecured loans to people with no apparent marketable skills and no personal assets based on unpredictable future earnings? It’s no wonder the lenders leaned on Congress, including Delaware charlatan Uncle Joe, to exclude student loans from federal bankruptcy protections. This way they get to skip the risk and skim the interest, which is usurious enough to cover a hell of a lot more delinquency than has hit the market so far.

More broadly, though, there’s the nihilism of trying to burn down the academy because it happens to harbor some people one finds annoying, antagonistic, and, supposedly, not adequately useful to society. If we’re looking for jawboning wankers who have no marketable skills, there’s no reason to go on a damn college tour when there’s a Metro Station and long-distance passenger rail and bus terminal a couple of blocks from the US Capitol. Do these assholes have any sense of irony?

Sure, there are wankers and bullshitters in academia. No shit, Sherlock. Anyone who pays attention to federal expenditures, though, knows that they’re marginal, mostly harmless, and kept afloat at a relatively inconsequential public expense. They could be working on the F-35 clusterfuck instead, or riding the maritime demolition derby circuit with the Seventh Fleet.

Must we actually throw the baby out with the bathwater by collectively punishing entire universities just to spite a few losers in humanities cul-de-sacs who are already regarded as embarrassing ne’er-do-wells by their more rigorous and accomplished peers? By Paul Ryan’s reckoning, we most certainly must. That pig-ignorant thieving piece of shit won’t be happy unless we, generally his intellectual superiors, are made to feel pain for no reason. Does that fucker have a science or math background? Does he know how to do long division?

A reasonable response of good faith to concerns about government waste would be to go up to Capitol Hill and hand out 7-Eleven applications. That’s where most of Congress would be working if they had gotten ahead in life by their own merits, assuming they hadn’t been fired years ago. The brightest bulbs don’t go into politics, certainly not in a political climate as ridiculous as ours today. The least we can demand of them is that they have the humility to recognize that they are setting law and policy for people who include their unambiguous intellectual superiors, both in government and out. That clown crew doesn’t have what it takes to work for the FAA or to do crop or climate science research at the University of Nebraska. The decent among them admit as much and act with a fitting modesty, but the last thing anyone can expect of the average congressman is decency and the modesty to go with it.

I’d say that we should send these assholes down into the Metro tunnels after hours to scrape the hair and dandruff and shit off the third rails for fire prevention, but I respect railroad maintenance of way crews too much to send a bunch of worse-than-useless jawboning shitbirds over to get in the way of people who work for a living. This is why we have public assistance: to marginalize those who will inevitably fuck everything up if they engage.

I’m just trying to do right by my great-grandfather here. The union allowed him to raise my grandmother and her siblings in a stable lower-middle-class existence because it shook the damn cash out of the Union Pacific’s pockets. If tamping iron accidents are going to be a tradition, then, they might as well stop happening to the front of the head of some poor bastard like Phineas Gage and start happening to critical parts of the back of the heads of, say, Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach.

Brandenburg, bitch. Tough shit if that got y’all sunflower salty.

What’s the matter with Kansas is the matter with a lot more than just Kansas. The government is the only reason the railroad ever did a thing to keep us safe. Besides, I’m not getting anyone hurt by playing Fantasy Industrial Accident, which is noticeably safer than real professional football. Holler back at me from Congress when Americans are no longer dying because they’re rationing their insulin to make ends meet.

“And we should mention that Google is an NPR sponsor”

Gee, should we, Ari? You don’t say!

NPR and PBS have this unbelievable pathological compulsion to avail themselves of all problematic funding streams. Direct federal funding–you know, because they’re federally chartered corporations and maybe the feds ought to put their money where their loud mouths are–is chronically obstructed by grandstanding shitheels in Congress who would rather nurse their pet moral panics for a living than take up a line of actual work or, hell, tend to the public business. Audience funding is an operational clusterfuck for the stations and an aesthetic and personal affront for the audience. Several times a year, we have to listen to whiny, passive-aggressive, neurotic, sanctimonious, and utterly uncalled-for lectures about how the vast majority of us are no-account free riders. Oh yeah? Fuck all y’all in that case; I can always scroll over to WCKM, which is the only station my mom’s car can reliably pick up most of the time, doesn’t explicitly insult its own listeners, and sometimes plays some bitchin’ tunes. Sure, it doesn’t offer the unintended fun of Meat E. Urologist Steve Maleski, but at least that part of the damn sky doesn’t have such an obnoxious, leering eye on me.

Ideally, the ultra-wealthy of this country might fill the gap because public broadcasting seems worthy and they have the capacity to fund it, but the sick, inescapable truth is that they’re stingy as all hell with their patronage because they can exercise more leverage over their host society that way. Warren Buffett (a Congressman’s son, let’s be clear, not actually the child of a meatpacker or a railroad brakeman or what have you, the way he’d like us to assume) doesn’t hoard his billions so that he might be magnanimous or discreet or public-spirited in his disbursement of them. It isn’t his place to be the change he wants to see in the world, unless that change is making his own grandchildren grovel for their periodic Dairy Queen treats; his place, rather, is to lecture society at large for being moral failures that oddly fail to constrain him and his kind. Say, that couldn’t have anything to do with billionaires having enough money to bribe officials dozens of times over, could it? Nah.

No, I’m not just quickie-ballparking the figures or pulling them out of my ass. For the hell of it (because it’s my own damn decision to directly research this shit, or not), I checked with NPR (coy about the bottom line) and Wikipedia (spergtastically specific), and sure enough, NPR has an endowment of about $258 million, much less than the $400-something million currently held by *MY OLD SCHOOL*. That works out to something like a year and a quarter worth of operational expenses. Billionaires consort with one another all the time and have staffs dedicated to organizing their charity (sic), so there’s no way they couldn’t find a way to split the bill and spare the rest of us the fucking quarterly radio lectures.

If that sounds expensive and wasteful, realize that Dickinson College uses its cool four hundred mil to miseducate Main Liner asshats who should be posted on corners right on the dividing line between Black Kensington and White Kensington, so that they might take full verbal abuse from both communities, including the Community and the drugs community. NPR, House Voice and neoliberal agitprop notwithstanding, is a huge national news broadcasting operation that does quite a bit of original reporting on a daily basis, some of it on the ground in rather unstable parts of the country and the world. From this perspective, it gets some real shit done on a shoestring. Sure, it could provide better coverage and be less corrupt, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a bunch of overseas news bureaus cost more than the township annual budget, some butthurt #TCOT asshole’s net worth, or whatever other bogus comparisons the starve-the-beast culture war shitheels in the GOP would like to use when they aren’t dumping another trillion here and trillion there into fruitless and deadly imperial military adventurism.

NPR and PBS can’t meet its budgeting needs just from federal funding reluctantly disbursed by an arbitrarily hostile Congress or by passing the hat to their newly reannoyed audiences, so they turn to multinational corporations to fill the gap. They never fucking listened to any of the perfectly sensible people who warned that they would sell off their own journalistic credibility by selling out to these thieving leviathans; their critics were all just catastrophizing Chicken Littles who refused to catch up with the times, which now, for reasons never properly explained, now required trusting the motives and ethics of shady corporate trusts that maintained full-time staffs of shamelessly mercenary “public relations” “professionals.” That is, in-house propagandists. On top of this, they had the gall to ever more needily guilt-trip the audience for alms, instead of considering the possibility that private citizens might be more enthusiastic about giving their discretionary income to organizations that didn’t sell out to ADM to produce the NewsHour.

The executives are foolish or arrogant enough (probably both) to assume that their customers wouldn’t possibly see through this admitted triple-dipping racket. It’s like a bum shaking a cup of loose change in front of the train station and then admitting that, yeah, I change into my begging clothes every evening after I get off work at my PR job for ExxonMobil, and by the way I’m on welfare, too, but you see, my boss and the clerks at the welfare office are mean to me, and all I’ve got to my name is a house that I own free and clear and a quarter million in savings. Nobody would give a fucking dime to such a schnorrer. Listeners and viewers do give to our esteemed public broadcasters, largely for shameful psychosocial reasons, but far from all of us do, as we’re berated several times a year in the free rider lecture series. Do I sound like I’m spending money that I might but don’t necessarily have on these triply freeloading shitbirds? Hell no.

As anyone with a lick of sense knows, the corporate money comes with enough strings attached to knit a damn sweater collection. The very fucking point of public broadcasting was that the public (that word again; hmm) would have the option to get its news and entertainment from outlets that were freed of the corrupting influences of corporate money. Yeah, that’s going just swell. For once we have an audience that is withholding its financial support on principle, not just because memberships are expensive, and the executives and almscriers and bagmen cannot imagine that the free riders are motivated by anything but crass stinginess.

If we’re feeling conspiratorial and psychoanalytic (hey, I just said “anal!”), we might conclude that they project their own vice onto the rest of us. The priests at one of the parishes that I regularly attend (homelessness, remember) take five seconds during the announcements at the end of mass to encourage us to contribute to the charity boxes at the exits. That always seems like a gracious reminder to do something worthwhile; we aren’t the most organized of the churchgoing, and God knows we aren’t the most punctual. With a stroke of seasonal bad luck, I might roll out and turn on the car radio just in time for an interminable group guilt screed about how important it is that we all give at least $60 a year or some shit.

Yeah, how about fuck the lot of you. Going to mass to get AWAY from the guilt is always a red flag, and not one about the one holy catholic and apostolic church. Leave it to NPR and PBS to pick out the most graceless, annoying, and dysfunctional traditions of the Judeo-Christian religions and blend them into a syncretism of earthly hell.

Are you paying for that? I’m not. Someone has to pay for it, but you don’t have to be that someone, either. As Ari Shapiro admitted, they’re already Google’s sugar baby. This brings us to the provocation for our current screed, yesterday’s All Tech Considered story from Toronto, a tentatively smart city. One might think that not promptly calling the police, an attorney, or the CBC’s HR department after being choked by Jian Ghomeshi wasn’t exactly smart, but that’s way too expanding galaxy brain for the likes of NPR. Google is building some shit on the waterfront, and listen to this, Brando, it’s gonna include some automated underground do-hickey to cart away the rubbish so that the beautiful people don’t have to look at the garbage.

Or the garbagemen, to wax conspiratorial again. These fuckers would never voluntarily go without a servant if they can order one up on demand (Uber), but they’re visibly uncomfortable with the continuing existence of servants (Uber again). This is why Techytown will be swarming with robotic buses, too. That trash train, though. One of the world’s premier internet technology companies is trying to build the city of the future, and one of its two or three proudest features will be a literal garbage subway. Imagine asking one of the guys who built the New York City subway system about that. Sure, we could do that, but why the fuck would we?

An old-school New Yorker can always kill two birds with one stone by throwing inconvenient items of trash into the tracks or leaving them on the train. We can be stationary or dynamic about these decisions, but someone else, almost certainly a union employee, is paid to clean that shit up now and then. They may be sore about how everyone’s always throwing a bunch of gawbage down heah, but they’re on the clock, and the MTA more or less comes through for them.

That isn’t the sort of New Yorker that Tory-era Toronto gets. Cool T’rana gets some asshole from the New York City mayor’s office to talk about how gross it is to have to look at properly bagged and canned trash on the street for a few hours once or twice a week and how that stuff should be out of sight and out of mind on a bespoke subway system parallel to the fiberoptic network. New York has always produced more than its share of trashies, neurotics, loudmouths, and others of dubious sociability, with dubious enough results, but the technocrats who have made careers trying to socially engineer the forced cleanup of their city are way worse. It’s like, man, I’m in the hospital with this awful cough and, oh my God, Cullen and Majors just showed up on the floor, no way is my heart up for anything that sexy. Yeah, you’d better get out, or you, too, might end up on the night shift (on the night shift).

Of course New York is rather dirty; what else is new; but can we at least not be meddlesome, sniveling dipshits about it? And why are we acting like a fucking trash tunnel is tech? Using a special hand-carved rock to pound acorns into flour is technology, too, but that isn’t why Google was founded. Did anyone on Sand Hill Road think they were funding a civil engineering firm? If Toronto wants a trash subway, why doesn’t it hire, like, CH2M Hill instead and cut out these assholes who inevitably end up fighting over the interior decoration of the private 767 that they garage at Moffett Field?

In a city as cold, snowy, and dark as Toronto, it makes sense to underground some shit. Canada has had underground malls for decades, so no one needs to convince the average Canuck. The retarded thing about Google is that it’s showing up with plans to mothball the garbage truck fleet and start running driverless buses around all day. This seems like a great opportunity to replicate the new Denver Airport’s custom automated baggage shredding system (which was quickly replaced with old-fashioned cart trains) and to spend millions of dollars finding novel ways to fuck up winter road maintenance.

Smart Toronto’s local critics are probably right that Google is actually scheming to use them as test subjects without their consent. That’s the industry standard, although, oddly enough, we hear little about the tech industry’s ethical problems on NPR. I can’t imagine why that is. But think about how fucked up NPR’s audience is to not have any interest in what might be worthwhile civil engineering projects until some dipshit ridiculously declares that they’re actually all about whizz-bang computer stuff. That’s just pathetic. Using the tenth generation of computerized pocket telephony to remotely oversee illegal jitney cabbies who have been lured into debt bondage worthy of sharecroppers under Jim Crow is the coolest thing ever, but making sure that the roads are plowed and repaved as needed or that there are working sewer and railroad systems is totally boring.

Colby Cosh was absolutely right: not nearly enough of us work with our hands for a living.