Americans are too lazy and soft for farm work, but not for CrossFit

Walking around the Oregon Garden and recreationally looking at plants for an hour and a half after work this afternoon was more tiring and harder on my body than picking over 72 pounds of blueberries over the course of six hours in the fields today. Recreational plant nerd shit is like recreational sex: haters gonna haidt, but if you have the time and the money for it, you might as well. I made a special pilgrimage to the blueberry planting (that wasn’t absurd; absurd would be u-picking blueberries after shift, and I’m not that ridiculous), and another special pilgrimage to the olives; the blueberry cultivars were all past their fruiting season and the olives had shit for fruit sets, but blueberries are bae and olives, especially this far north, are bae as fuck.

They’ve got some cool shit up there, and the presentation is really well done. The stoop labor to plant and tend it is done mainly by volunteers, because America talks about the labor theory of value much more than it observes or cherishes anything of the sort. I’m not sure that I’m enough of a bitch to join that effort, but I can’t count it out. Trail maintenance is another great job for the volunteer bitch pool; it’s obvious to anyone who hasn’t taken a shovel to the head that the Tahoe Rim Trail is an excellent public good, but apparently there’s no regular budget to pay anyone to do the heavy labor needed to maintain and improve it. Americans won’t pick fruit for pay, but we will do heavy trail maintenance for free? Someone isn’t talking straight here.

Picking blueberries requires some attention and effort. We sometimes have pickers on the crew who spend much of the day with their thumbs up their asses, and not surprisingly they don’t get much done. I am not one of them, so I get a fair amount done. On a hot day, or worse, a hot, humid day with calm winds, the work can get pretty tiring. It’s still consistently less tiring than spending the same amount of time hiking in the same weather. Sometimes it’s much less tiring. I love hiking, so I’m not trying to suggest that hiking is a fool’s errand or a form of masochism. I don’t do shit like summit all the high peaks at Philmont eating nothing but peanut butter out of squeeze tubes for 36 hours straight, so your mileage may vary. Even the two- to five-mile day hikes over easy to moderate terrain that I usually take are physically harder than picking blueberries and about as hard as picking wine grapes on vines where the fruit is tangled up in the middle of a thicket of leaves, canes, and trellising wire.

Being on my feet for an hour and a half this afternoon as a tourist visiting my fruits (it was, indeed, fabulous!) left me much sorer than six hours of work today. It was especially hard on my legs because I spent much of the time standing around. I had the same problem manning game stands at Hersheypark, which is some of the most useless fucking bullshit I’ve done in my life. I wasn’t feeling sleepy this afternoon, so what I was feeling was direct physical stress on my legs, not fatigue. I’ve had afternoons when I’ve hardly been able to stay awake for the drive back from the farm, but today wasn’t one. Even so, my legs got sorer from walking around a tourist garden, doing nothing of any use to society, than I’ve gotten all season from picking well over half a ton of blueberries.

If you’re ablebodied and in decent shape, you could probably pick fruit easily enough, too. I’m in good shape but no sort of athletic shape, and I pick some damn fruit. And I notice that everyone who insists that my fellow Americans and I are too soft to do manual labor for a living talks like Mary Mayhew.

Feel free to throw a lobster pot at a bitch. I’m not trying to be sexist, because I know that there are some hard Downeaster broads in the business; I’m trying merely to be classist. The Kennedys and the Bushes haven’t done a thing that useful on the water, although Teddy did successfully ride the Ducks. Don’t be bashful with the lobstah infrastructshah. I don’t currently have the upper body strength to do a proper pull-up on the old CCC bar at the Peavy Arboretum, but I don’t speak on behalf of my fellow Americans on such matters, and I have more confidence than you might think in the fortitude of my people.

Millennials are driving less. The reasons why may surprise you–if you’re a pathologically sheltered dipshit who takes retarded thinkpieces at face value.

As I write this, I’ve just woken up from two successive nights sleeping in my car at rest areas, but I spent last night on the outskirts of Wilsonville, not five minutes from a classy-ass Starbucks, so fuck yeah. I have a car, so I drive, too much, actually, but I pay some fucking attention to how a wide variety of other people live, in the interest of not being a damn idiot, so I recognize my own good fortune to be able to pile a bunch of shit haphazardly into a not too heavily used Focus and not into a stolen shopping cart.

We’ve enjoyed some crude language already, so let’s enjoy some more, this time as part of a vicarious cold Chicago morning. Some Chicagoans live in the ghetto (in the ghetto); others get out of the ghetto on a regular basis to operate the CTA’s free fare program. I heard about this from a guy who chatted me up at the cell phone charging stations in front of the Metra ticket windows at Union Station, but it’s way the hell more credible than probably forty percent of what I read in any newspaper of record, so I believe it. The way the free fare program works is that a bum with a free unlimited CTA fare card will go up to Addison on Cubs game nights and call out, “Any of you white motherfuckers want to get on the train for free?” Because their black ally has accurately assessed the moral character of his White clientele (not much), the answer is oh fuck yes, more drinking money. The bum then swipes preppy shitheads through the turnstiles by the dozens in exchange for whatever tips they offer him; they’re loaded, often in both senses, so the tips can run into the hundreds of dollars an hour, but the bum usually quits within a few minutes, after he’s cleared about forty.

This is one of the least racist things to happen in Chicago. The White Community involved in this scam makes its contribution to the Society for the Prevention of Kwesi Millington for Sheriff. The bum isn’t meanspirited or bigoted for calling them white motherfuckers; he’s just making sure that he’s getting through to his target customer base, which is assuredly white, and most assuredly White, and isn’t exactly not motherfuckers. They all know that the farejumpers aren’t proper old church ladies. I don’t enjoy ripping off transit agencies, even badly run ones, so I wouldn’t Fly the W for being invited into a seedy racket like that, but I’m not a preppy Northside cocksucker. I’ve never been to Lakeshore Drive. The El doesn’t go there, and I’m always le tired when I visit because I’ve been humping luggage around after some redeye train ride or flight. What, me Royko? Also, I’ve seen some dystopian shit in Whole Foods and don’t expect it to get better if I wander even further north.

Seven generations from now, the CTA may have recovered from the Emanuel administration. RAHM SHANTI, RAHM HARE HARE. Fare-whoring bums aren’t crapifying the CTA by having loose morals with their cards. The assholes they’re swiping onto the El are doing more than their fair share as private citizens to screw over the system, but they’re still relative bit players. (Yes, I inevitably started to write that as “fare share.” Faaaaaahhk.)

The real trouble comes from the elected officials and cronies that the preppy fuckheads cherish in their municipal government. Rahm is surely steak-knife-into-the-table livid about the fare-whoring bums up at Addison, because they’re running an unauthorized paleoliberal racket under the auspices of at least two administrations of social democracy, not an authorized neoliberal racket under the auspices of a mayoral administration that gets schoolchildren killed on their way to school by closing their neighborhood schools and forcing them to cross rival gang territory. The bums can’t take part in some bullshit scam to give Metra riders free Uber rides for signing up for some app; getting driver’s licenses would get in the way of being severely mentally ill and drunk, and besides, parts of the El run all night. The guy who told me about the swiping scam said that the welfare authorities and the CTA probably figure they’re nutty as fuck, “Yeah, I’m gonna get on the bus five times in a row and then get on the train another three times.” I don’t doubt that they’re card-carrying members of the mental health community, because I know that they carry cards.

What I don’t know, and what the guy who told me about this racket didn’t say, is whether the police turn a blind eye to it on the Northside specifically in furtherance of white privilege and, for that matter, White privilege. Dude was mixed-race black and not squeamish about discussing racial problems, but that didn’t come up and I didn’t think to ask about it. I recall him making some comments indicating that the scam is allowed in racially integrated skid row neighborhoods, too, but some of what he said faded into my sleep-deprived haze, pursuant to Wow Much Travels.

So far we have white motherfuckers who are also embarrassingly White driving less because their brothers by very other mothers are there to swipe them on to the train. Some of them probably take the El in sober daylight hours, too. A friend of the Insurance Schmuck’s has been driving less because she totaled a car that her parents had bought for her in a drunk driving accident; since then, she has been commuting to work in Center City on the old R6, getting around Conshohocken on Uber, and still getting sloshed at the Great American.

Many of my other contacts in greater Philadelphia’s White Community, however, continue to drive all over hell. It takes a lot to get Americans out of their cars. SEPTA, by this reckoning, is not a lot. I still use it when I visit, and I can confirm that it kind of sucks. On dysfunctional lines and at bad times of day, it sucks major ass, and I’ve never tried to argue that it isn’t a great place to get work as a total numbskull. By contrast, the LA Metro Rail system has been exceeding ridership expectations. I’ve used LA Metro quite a bit, too, and it beats the shit out of almost anything that SEPTA runs, so I think that’s why. A cherished Angeleno car culture makes more sense to pop culture consumers in flyover country who never visit LA and to TV executives who live off Mulholland Drive than it does to anyone normal who tries to commute on the 101. Reason Online doesn’t change that by concern-trolling Metro and LA voters with dispatches from empty trains on the Expo Line on the first day of service. It didn’t take long for normies to notice that the line really worked and to start mobbing it.

LA now has excellent rail service in some areas and slow boat to China bus service in others. Philadelphia continues to have shitty transit service in many areas. San Diego continues to have a trolley system culturally fit for Tom Perez and Bill Durden and logistically fit for not a hell of a lot. It takes really good transit service to get affluent people who demand reliability out of their cars. If they vote for Rahm, that’s an oops for all of us. There will always be a hardcore minority of Kardashian-aspirant assholes who insist on taking limousines to clubs with bottle service, unless mass media trendsetters start recoding limos as trailer park trash trucks, but they’re marginal and susceptible to peer pressure holding that buses aren’t for losers anymore.

The obstacle to walkable neighborhoods, to arrangements like being able to safely stumble home blind drunk on account of Conshohocken’s geography, is speculative rentier parasitism, and that’s as American as apple pie and industrialists approaching Smedley Butler with coup proposals. It isn’t immutable; America has evolved from good to evil to good to evil in the past; but there’s a shitload of defensive, possessive, easily riled up, belligerent incumbent elites who have to be overcome if walkable urban planning is to be redemocratized.

The places where people without cars are left in the meantime can be pretty fucking ugly and difficult, even dangerous, to navigate. Remember, I live by the light rail station in Rancho. I don’t stay there, but I lives here; can I come in? Rancho is reasonably walkable for a suburban shithole, but it’s still sketchy and poorly appointed. Northeast Salem is much safer and sociologically upstanding, but its urban planning is worse. East Salem, trashier but no Rancho and certainly no transit-oriented San Diego, has been described to me as “Felony Flats;” it also has bad urban planning. There are densely populated streets in Salem with apartment complexes but no sidewalks.

The reason people in these neighborhoods get by without cars is that they cannot afford cars. It’s that simple. The Salem bus systems, Cherriots and CARTS (Scout’s honor, that’s what they’re called), don’t operate on weekends. Not a lot of people move out to Lancaster Drive to walk for their health.

Extrapolate this by a few thousand to account for all the other towns whose cores have been gentrified by hipster shitwads, and the implications for those displaced into the banlieue aren’t so groovy. The implications for declining motor fuel demand are pretty dystopian, too. Every time gas prices drop, Americans start trading in sensible cars for gas guzzlers again. We’re an awfully profligate people. If gas demand remains low in spite of this ostentatious waste, it makes sense that it’s because lower classes of Americans have been dispossessed from car ownership entirely. That’s a great way to kill fuel demand while still allowing those with enough credit or cash to continue to buy shiny jacked up crew cab pickups for the proper manful display of truck nuts.

No one at the farm where I work, staff or owner, drives anything of the sort. It’s because we aren’t useless assholes. It’s because we aren’t drugstore cowboys. We leave it to others to waste money on vain shit like that.

It goes to show that it’s easy enough for a country to be ruined and beggared by an aspirational ten or fifteen percent. All it takes is an organized, pushy minority, another minority that figures it may someday enjoy the same privileges, and a disorganized, apathetic majority that doesn’t particularly care for the bullshit but can’t figure out what it can possibly do to combat it. Why the hell should RV touring take precedence for policymakers over weekend bus service in cities of two hundred thousand? Because RVers vote; that’s why. As their bumper stickers brag, they’re spending their grandchildren’s inheritances.

Our leaders cater to those who demand things of them, and the circuit-riding senior bling crowd is demanding. Why wouldn’t it be? These are people who believe that they’ve earned the right to drive around in fucking buses. They believe that such a luxury can be earned. Some of them have the nerve to pretend that they’re of modest means while driving $200,000 rigs tens of thousands of miles a year. Bull fucking shit. Even if they bought their boomer cruisers on credit they can’t sustain, that’s no modesty.

We distribute the goodies unequally around here. It’s the Amway, I mean, the American Way. Borrowing from future generations, born already and yet to be, is some solid DeVos shit, too. We can’t all live on Wealthy Street. Some of us would have to expatriate to the Netherlands to become Dutch. Dick and Betsy don’t carry no paper ten-stamp Dutch Mafia card, dumbo. They don’t get their cream by the shot, and they aren’t the kind of white motherfuckers who are down for a welfare swipe onto the subway. America, America, God shed some dregs you don’t even want to imagine on this joint.

More Panera Democrats: different blame rules for different blame fools

The Democratic Party cannot organize anything like See You at the Pole. It hardly even has the discipline to stand back and allow a movement of the sort that is consistent with its purposes to do its thing without nitpicking interference or other neurotic distractions.

That the GOP has See You at the Pole and the Democratic Party has nothing analogous is telling, and damning of the Dems. See You at the Pole isn’t exactly a Republican movement, but it’s tactically and strategically shrewd and consistent with the goals of every significant extant faction of the Republican Party (get thee back to the hearth, Rockefeller; nice job locking up all the black folk for drugs, tho), and so Republicans of all remaining stripes work in concert with it, just as it works in concert with them. Secular movement conservatives don’t try to engage the flagside establishmentarians in internecine warfare; the flag prayer circle dipshits, in turn, basically punch left, putting aside what they assume are relatively minor differences with secular Republican factions to focus on what they believe (mostly rightly) are major differences with liberals and leftists.

See You at the Pole is horseshit, but it’s effective horseshit. Those who aren’t familiar with religious right cultural touchstones may be having salacious thoughts of what Lambert Strether calls ladies of negotiable affection more on the pole than at it, but it isn’t anything that reputable or upstanding. *Beavis butting in, head and all* Hehheh, uh, I’m, uh, totally upstanding right now, but you might be more comfortable kneeling to, uh, polish my pole. *Huhhuh* There’s something touchingly innocent and earnest about a bunch of (mostly) young people who believe in their own ideals and in their own power to effect their ideals coming together in a prayer circle around a flagpole, but on reflection it’s a dubious and even dangerous authoritarian bonding ritual blurring the lines between religion and civics. There is no aspect of sincere Christian praxis that requires such a pushy stunt; this shit is Constantinian church-state aggression updated for a modern Protestant-leaning right-wing sensibility and reweaponized; but this is precisely why Republicans, both of the sort who sincerely believe in the religious right agenda and of the sort who secretly ridicule the religious right as a rabble of useful idiots, encourage this muddled public worship. It’s great agitprop for all of them. It organizes people who otherwise might wander down rabbit holes to the left (labor unionism, say) under the auspices of a public religious preoccupation that directs any political impulses back to the hard right.

The Democrats can’t hold a candle to this. As I said, See You at the Pole is not organized under formal Republican auspices, but it’s a very easy thing for Republicans, who already share an exaggerated and explicit version of the tacit authoritarianism informing these prayer rallies, to endorse. If their schedules are free or they really enjoy mixing it up with the values voters, they can drop by for some prayer and readings not in their secret closet. Otherwise, they can rope in a large part of their target constituency just by saying, hey, I’d have loved to be there but couldn’t make it, but you guys are doing great work, keep it up.

Liberal Democrats who try to outargue the religious right on these cheap authoritarian stances regularly get tripped up and made to look ridiculous and impotent. I campaigned for John Kerry in rural Pennsylvania, so I would know. Bernie Sanders has the rhetorical focus and discipline to stake a claim on his own policy territory and not be lured away from it by wedge issue assholes, but as I’ve carried on about at such length already, the Democratic Party as an institution was not down with the old socialist. Hillary Clinton and everyone around her are fucking hopeless against the religious right. Long Face, an unfortunately weak communicator, made a stumbling but sincere effort to present a nuanced approach to reconciling private faith with public policy, and he got steamrolled by anti-intellectual thugs who didn’t give a shit. Hillary, who has long had a reputation on almost every part of the political spectrum except the center-left for exceptional licentiousness, looks like the Devil Incarnate when she tries to appeal to religious voters, not just a possible unwitting tool of the Dark One. This diabolical look is pretty comprehensive for her, actually: the feminazi harpy never-resting bitch face (not the most gracious look) that offends and discomfits so many cultural conservatives is at least loosely of a piece with the commodities trading monkey business (Carl Sandburg and Leroy Brown, pray for us), the barely-legal-in-Arkansas Whitewater scam (Campbell, you on the line again? Afraid we need you, too), We Came We Saw He Died (for various reasons, I don’t even try to get a hold of History Resistance Liberty Glory Revolution), and the Dr. Evil in distress act that she couldn’t suppress late in her last presidential campaign on account of her being in trouble electorally, which she inevitably delivered in an apparently empty room while dressed in the fashion of a lesbian apotheosis of Mao and Nehru.

The overall optics of the Clinton/Kaine campaign were a raging clusterfuck that the Republicans were able to beat just by running a slightly wooden but impeccably wholesome veep candidate under a loose cannon who, regardless of his judgment or his intellect, clearly had a heart. Mike Pence and Donald Trump are both effective campaigners who successfully appealed to complementary parts of a Republican base that Trump dramatically expanded by appealing to disgruntled Democrats, many of them recently berned over. As inferred Trump voter Michael Moore kept pointing out, Hillary just wasn’t getting through in the rust belt; the different things that can be tried on Torch Lake include getting baked as fuck in a MAGA hat or soberly having a KFC family bucket and a half gallon of RC Cola for dinner while finalizing one’s conclusion that the Democrats really, seriously blew it this time and that one’s fellow slovenly fat guy is the real cultural liberal and trade union leftist remaining in the race at the witching hour.

Never Trump will have a shit fit over the last part, but look at the diverse coalition that the Donald brought together just by being all over the place and picking a politically and temperamentally complementary running mate. Hillary could have picked Bernie, and he would have put her over the top, but her priority, and for reasons of corruption her party’s, was spending the general election campaign reminding him and his supporters that their proper place in the coalition was as meek, submissive, whipped little bitches. That worked out great, guys. I didn’t want that woman in the White House, so I don’t mind gloating a bit now and then. Sexist? I didn’t really want Kaine around there, either. Also, I voted for Jill Stein, bitch. It depends on what the meaning of “her” is, and sharing a candidate with a marginal collection of anti-vaxxers and healing crystals freaks is better than sharing one with a horde of insatiable power yuppies. I’m not crazy about Trump getting so easily triggered by the Nork Dork, but at least he isn’t starting shit with our supremely rational and mostly peaceable alleged enemies in the Kremlin, who conspicuously are not joining Piggy Gangnam Style in announcing plans for a nuclear missile attack on Guam.

Etc., but Wow Much Words. #WithHer regards argumentation like that as retardation on the level of someone with Down’s Syndrome talking about how good the hot dogs are at Bear River Pump-n-Play. It’s Wiener Day at the Roth’s in West Salem tomorrow; go choke on one. The refusal to acknowledge nuance on the part of the opposition is not a good look in a sworn liberal party. That doesn’t just alienate conservatives and reactionaries. Donald Trump looking like the more liberal candidate appeals to some of us. If the nominal liberals won’t confront their own illiberalism, maybe he’ll confront it for them. It might be worth a try.

In this context, the impotent embarrassments of Democratic-aligned protest movements is worth a look. Happily married women with large families aren’t natural allies for the pussy hat marchers, whom they’re more likely to regard as barren, bitter, pathological shit-stirrers, even freaks. Appealing to nebulous concepts of virtue like science and reason backfires on those who won’t honestly state and defend their own principles: extensive moral reasoning led Rick Santorum in a very different direction, and now liberals smear him by smugly appropriating his surname for a slurry of post-climactic butt goo, all while he’s married with, IIRC, five living children.

Bernie Sanders stays away from this toxic, distracting shit, but the Democratic Party would rather adopt Dan Savage as a mainstream standardbearer. But it gets worse than that. Bernie is beyond their comfort zone, but he’s closer than most of the voters they’re theoretically trying to reach. He’s a college-educated sitting United States Senator. Famously on the gotcha right and center, he owns several lake houses. The problem, the intractable problem, is that he talks basically like an organizer at a union hall. He relates to coal miners. Like Trump, he’s comfortable reaching out to workaday people, but he does so at a much more granular, thoughtful, and probably honest level, and he has a strong track record in industrial policy benefiting his constituents in Vermont that parallels Trump’s casino bankruptcies and stiffing of small family-owned contractors in Atlantic City.

Sanders has a more honest version of what Republican politicians have and Democratic politicians desperately need: an ability to get into the trenches and interact with ordinary voters on their own turf. It’s hard to say for sure what mix of sincere interest and depraved psychosexual drives motivates Republican politicians to do effective retail politics with voters at state fairs and grange halls and churches and athletic events, but they do it. It comes naturally to them. They look comfortable. Democrats look all grossed out that some pig is about to shit on their Bruno Maglis. Or some voter. Hell, Mitt Romney has a fucking elevator in La Jolla for his cars, and even he had more in common with ordinary voters than Hillary Clinton on account of his involvement in LDS stake leadership, which involves ongoing dealings with congregants at various socioeconomic levels.

Of course this idiot crew can’t connect with farmers or factory hands. We’ve got a political class on what passes for the left that can’t think of a single thing that it has in common with normal, average people in probably eighty percent of US counties and, let’s not kid ourselves, many urban neighborhoods. The client-patron relationship that the Democratic Party presumes with African-American and Latino voters isn’t nearly as sustainable or cordial as the Dems think it is, but when they try to take the same attitude to majority-white parts of flyover country, where voters forthrightly expect not to be treated so condescendingly, the locals invite them to immediately enjoy a hearty serving of Manchego Fuck Yourself. They dig themselves even deeper into the hole by pretending that 10% black counties in Appalachia are 100% white and 100% bigoted, and then return to their contemplation of how bae Nate Silver is for being such a detail-oriented wonk.

GA-06 was their wet dream. Finally they had located a single congressional district in the New South that they thought they had a chance of winning by running a milquetoast Millennial neoliberal against a hardliner Gen X values MILF. And they lost it. Oops. They lost to the Jersey Slugger in Montana, too, but that was because they shut off the party campaign funds to their High Line native candidate as a fuck-you to the Berniecrats. Ain’t no Panera in Cut Bank, either. The proper bougie purveyors of coffee and sammich nicely complemented the obsession with winning over hardliner Republican dentists in Alpharetta instead of reaching out to ranchers who gladly vote for Jon Tester every six years.

Any party that actually valued meritocracy, in the sense of having what it takes not to torpedo one’s organization by being a moron, would tell anyone encouraging more outreach to Panera Democrats in suburban Atlanta to go on public assistance. They’d take the fuckheads down to the welfare office. Any sensible political leader would figure that a belief in Panera Democrats as a viable constituency could only come from the laziest, dumbest, softest, most squeamish motherfucker on earth. The Dunkin’ Doorman hangs out in a coffeeshop, too, but he doesn’t work as a political strategist. I’m writing this from a Starbucks, and I interrupted my writing to go trainspotting out on the sidewalk, twice, but I’m not a fucking idiot who has never talked to poor people. You might not want to hear the stuff I could tell you about the bitchin’ consists that I watched roll by, but I don’t pester the Democratic Party with any of that. The people who do pester the Democratic Party include incorrigibly timid little shitbirds who think they can run the ground war for a successful national political strategy from the lobby of a chain cafe that’s decorated with peak clip art.

I pick fruit commercially, and I think they’re fucking reprehensible.

Among those left behind

The guy who sued the Insurance Schmuck’s boss was recently found dead by his own hand in a hotel room. The Insurance Schmuck said that he lived exceptionally fast and loose and likely killed himself to avoid paying secret debts that were well beyond his financial ability. By his reckoning, dude was supporting himself with a sort of check-kiting scam on his very life, and now he leaves behind huge mess.

There’s obviously a lot wrong with this entire situation, but I’m still trying to put a finger on what exactly is so pathological about it. I take my exposure to it, even secondhand, as a personal affront and very much as evidence that the Insurance Schmuck has blundered into a clusterfuck that poisons everything it touches without the sense or the courage to cut bait on these toxic lunatics. He often talks to me about how loyal he is, and he’s right about that. The specific problems that he’s encountering with his loyalty to his boss are that ISB is out of control, many of the associates and loved ones that ISB has cultivated are also out of control, quite a few other people close to one or both of them in the business are out of control, and the Insurance Schmuck doesn’t have what it takes to stand up to these wackos.

Let’s rechristen ISB’s late estranged former business partner ISBP. The P can stand for plaintiff, too. Or for prick, or putz. #TeshTips: Arabic does not have a letter corresponding to P, and we are not Muammar Qaddafi’s loyal beebul. #PowerOfPride #BowerOfBride.

I can’t believe that ISBP didn’t have some meritorious claims against ISB. It’s possible but very unlikely. The Insurance Schmuck has made some hushed comments to me to the effect that ISB at least tried to chisel ISBP or dangle some bogus promises in front of him in bad faith. ISB as a shyster in his business life rings true enough. Even if ISBP exaggerated his claims, it’s hard to see what incentive anyone would have to sue a competent, reputable senior partner in a successful business, since there would be so much to be gained by just keeping the operation running smoothly.

It’s almost as hard to imagine an attorney wanting to take on a nutty client whose case sounds like horseshit or a persecution complex unless the defendant is either a loaded celebrity with a reputation to defend or a corporation. ISBP sued ISB as an individual, from what I’ve heard, one private citizen to another, and any corporations involved were small and obscure. Besides, ISB seems vain enough to thrash around defending his honor rather than paying a disgruntled ex-partner fuck-off money, and the Insurance Schmuck told me that he did exactly that, costing both of them six-figure legal bills and, in his opinion, shortening both of their lives. When he learned of ISBP’s suicide, he felt sadly vindicated in his prediction that they’d go to early deaths.

It was darkly humorous, then, to find an obituary for ISBP in the Lancaster Newspapers mentioning that he had died “unexpectedly.” I had an inside source at the Lancaster Newspapers (I’m Woodward Bernstein, bitch) who told me and some classmates in the 1990’s that the publishers had a strict policy against printing HIV or AIDS as a cause of death in their obituaries, so I wouldn’t put it past them to be equally chickenshit about suicide. Of course, many families don’t want to air that bit of grief, either. As my aunt from Manna’s Habba, the same one whose brother is the Staten Island diaspora’s premier self-loathing Jew, “he died of kansa!”

How long, in the plural, to the point of no return? That was bad, but as Robert Dziekanski said, better an electronic cut from the American Heartland than an electric cut straight outta Depot. ISBP wasn’t Aaron Hernandez, so I don’t want to make light of his suicide, exactly (even if I’m in no danger of going bottomfeeding like Rod Dreher did over the freshly late Ariel Castro), but there is something really fucked up and eerie about seeing a newspaper obituary that treats a guy’s death as a sad mystery and hearing details from a mutual contact indicating that the paper scurried around the edges of the really seedy cultural underbelly of the same guy’s life. After all the toxic bullshit I’ve gotten from my college crowd about the socioeconomic milieu that would or should be mine, it’s disturbing to get the impression that people I nearly met at prep school (and may have met fleetingly at some point) responded to a suicide catalyzed by very similar socioeconomic pathologies to the ones I kept encountering at college by blowing sunshine up everyone’s ass.

Reporting this guy’s suicide as a suicide isn’t red meat for the rubberneckers; in its context, there really is something newsworthy about it. There is a public interest in warning people away from the kind of dangerous living that got ISBP into trouble, if that’s actually what happened, and the Insurance Schmuck seemed reasonably well-informed about his background.

This isn’t to say that I take everything the Insurance Schmuck said about ISBP and his beef with ISB at face value. He told me that ISB and his then-girlfriend, the one whose breast implants he paid for, used a lot of hard drugs, which explained why Legacy Tits looked so awful. When I saw Legacy Tits at the pool earlier this summer, I thought she looked exceptionally poised and not particularly haggard for a woman her age. In retrospect, having done the Zuckerbergeois Google-fu to get her meatspace name and the full legal names of ISB and ISBP, I realize that I may have overestimated her age, possibly by five years, but I had a raging alcoholic friend in college, when we were both freshmen, who looked like she was pushing a grizzled forty. So, all in all, Legacy Tits didn’t look too bad. Her Facebook profile makes her look like she has Borderline Personality Disorder, but having seen her at the pool, I assume that’s basically a persona. She isn’t the first person (usually women, from what I can recall) who had such a whatthefuckular discrepancy between face-to-face conversations and Facebook.

ISB, on the other hand, looks like shit, and not that much unlike Rob Ford. Thinking over this whole mess, I’ve occasionally been consumed with total confidence that he’s a cokehead. He works in business circles that are traditionally awash in coke. He looks like a cokehead and he acts like a cokehead. Alcohol could explain much of it, as it did for the Mayor, but ISB, like the yachting dipshit who claims to get by on an hour of sleep a night, is burning the wick at both ends in a way strongly suggesting that he needs powerful slugs of stimulants to avoid falling into a delirium or passing out. And if ISBF hasn’t snorted base, I’m Pablo Escobar. Knowing how much of her upkeep comes from ISB, he’s probably where she gets her coke.

The Insurance Schmuck has no fucking idea if these two use cocaine, or amphetamines, for that matter. In a tossup, I’d still call coke, but I wouldn’t put it past ISB in particular to use Adderall or Ritalin off-label. The Insurance Schmuck has no clue that his boss and the projectile nut he’s engaged to marry use hard stimulants because, for one thing, they’re too politically astute and neurotic to tell someone who doesn’t seem to be down for some uppers that they use, and more generally, he’s totally oblivious and ignorant to the cultures of any drug but alcohol and the signs of use. He’d have to see someone roll up a Benjamin right in front of him and hoover up a line to get an inkling that, hey, that guy just took some coke.

The Insurance Schmuck knows practically nothing about drugs except what he’s heard from his crappy, powerfully illiberal sober living stories. I doubt it would occur to him that cocaine helps some people function in high-power office jobs and is within others’ ability to use without immediately going off the rails. He’s got this narrative in his head that substance abuse makes abusers inherently unable to function. That’s really what it is: a narrative, a shabby deep story, a suite of prejudices for an avowedly unprejudiced man from an avowedly unprejudiced family. I have no trouble seeing how ISB could integrate cocaine into a life that doesn’t also involve his sleeping on a piece of cardboard at Market East. I doubt it does him much holistic good, but I’ve had the strong sense since before I met him that he lives an awfully unbalanced and unhealthy life, a sense that he confirmed the night I met him when he met us at the bar and carried on in a fashion that may have been the sole effect of alcohol but alternately may have been facilitated by scheduled stimulants.

I don’t recall the Insurance Schmuck telling me how he knew that that ISBP and Legacy Tits were heavy drug users, but I can’t help but imagine ISB getting worked up and angrily calling them a couple of fucking cokeheads. There’s no reason for ISB’s own cocaine use to get in the way of such a tirade; no homo, he and ISBP went through the equivalent of a divorce, and ISB always seemed like one of the last people to admit his own failures and weaknesses. If the Insurance Schmuck has mentioned his own sober living theories, ISB has all the more incentive to smear ISBP and Legacy Tits as drug users. On the other hand, I got the sense that Legacy Tits had discussed her drug use with him, too.

What rankles me about this situation is not the drug use per se, but the appearance that the Insurance Schmuck and the shysters around him are using drugs as a cudgel while peacocking about their own moral superiority as sober businessmen who kick ass for a living. I use caffeine and a very occasional mug of beer, and the Insurance Schmuck seems to be having the wool pulled over his eyes by a number of close business associates who are hopped up on some hard, hard shit. If they aren’t on cocaine or amphetamines, they sure play the part. I take deep offense at insinuations that I’m less well-adjusted than these wackos, but I know that the Insurance Schmuck is interested in using me as a conduit to my parents’ eventual estate, because he’s said as much to me, but a bit less bluntly, and I know that these assholes all idolize wealth in the classic biblical sense. I pick fruit commercially for deep poverty wages. Why should I not think that these people have cultivated themselves into a crew of shambling reprobates?

And why shouldn’t I think that they’re dangerous? The Insurance Schmuck isn’t the root of the problem. If he were working for someone reputable, he wouldn’t be angling for a cut of my future inheritance with pitches that leave me with a gathering aftertaste of crassness and insensitivity. Under a scrupulous boss, he’d be blameless. Instead, he works for a shyster with substance abuse problems in a business full of such people, and so he covers for them and descends into a willful, strategic ignorance of how they’re behaving. The sales tactics that they use are shit, and there’s no compensating for that with solid products. Shitty tactics produce shitty customer reactions. That’s all there is to it. They are inevitably going to alienate and upset prospective clients by following scripts that turn them into fucking assholes. That is in the cards for as long as they keep reshuffling the same filthy deck.

So are the aggressive addicts. They provide a safe space for highbrow derelicts, and so the highbrow derelicts show up and shit the floor. One of my best friends works for a guy who got sued for fraud and breach of contract by a cokehead who committed suicide and left his ex-girlfriend out in the cold, with nothing to show for their relationship but a set of silicone knockers. The Insurance Schmuck said that ISBP left Legacy Tits out on the street. It may well not be that bad, whether she finds a sugar daddy or moves back in with family (either one is likely), but it doesn’t sound good.

It is reasonable of me to ask why the fuck he does business with such people and what the fuck he expects me to think of it.

Choosy beggars

Mother-in-Law scolded one of the younger pickers today and threatened to fire him for not meeting the fifty-pound daily minimum, not five yards away from me, then, maybe ten minutes later, smiled at me and told me, “You’re doing great!” The I-can’t-keep-a-straight-face thing about that was that I wasn’t on course to break thirty pounds for the day when she said it, so her idea of cause for terminating members of the twerpkin wasn’t really about low productivity. She had just about admitted as much during the latest installment in her lecture series: “If you stop talking and pick you’ll reach your fifty pounds.” That ain’t necessarily so, either: no matter how diligent we are, we get hot and tired and sluggish, and our output drops. We don’t have that Bigfoot hardiness, so Think Out Loud didn’t have a lengthy segment about us fresh on the heels of an interview with a reverse-Bruce tranny. It isn’t the worst thing to think quietly and say nothing, but that isn’t how Oregonians roll.

Mother-in-Law’s thought out loud isn’t isn’t the most thoughtful. Threatening other employees with termination in front of me is hostile to me, too. I’m a big boy, but it’s still hostile. I’m astute enough to recognize that there’s still something really wrong with her managerial style even if she’s making sure to treat me better in her direct interactions with me. The terse argument that she started with Daughter-in-Law over what had and hadn’t been picked wasn’t any good, either. MiL briefly started a similar pissing match with me but dropped it when I pointed at some good fruit that obviously had to be picked. I don’t envy anyone who marries into that.

At the end of the day, one of the pickers told DiL that he needed to take Saturday off. She approved it but told him, “We like to get at least a week’s notice. That’s okay, but [some more not very memorable managerial bullshit].” I think “in the future” was part of it. A popular conception of the future is one in which picking berries for that family for three to five dollars an hour is safely in the past. I really don’t want to be passive-aggressive or defiant or anything like that, but what the hell kind of operation do they think they’re running? I didn’t catch the other picker’s reason for wanting Saturday off, so it may have been total bullshit, but their half-assed piece rates alone are a good enough reason to quit.

The idea of inspiring adult responsibility by paying adult wages is a sound one. I don’t want to encourage anyone to try to fuck them over for shits and giggles by abruptly coming and going, but they’re getting a lot less of it than they’re inviting by paying abysmal wages and also letting MiL mouth off at us. They try to keep her on a short leash, but it doesn’t really work.

A friend told me that she supervised eighty people and didn’t recall ever yelling at them, but that’s what it’s like to be ethically and behaviorally grounded. MiL has floating ethical and behavioral standards, rather like currencies, and pretending that the Bolivar is consistently worth a dime on the dollar is absurd. We’ll fire you on a partial day’s notice for being slow but ask that you please not take a day off on less than a full week’s notice out of consideration for us is super fucking incoherent, not the stuff of institutional credibility and good repute.

I still greatly enjoy the work and haven’t had any grave problems with the owners since MiL’s forcible berry tasting, and I get that supervising childish, flaky twerps sucks, but at the same time I have no objectively compelling reason to bend over backwards to accommodate them. Summary resignations and attendance problems go with the territory that they’ve staked out, and I’d say they have to deal with less of that shit than they should expect. It’s glaringly reasonable for any of us to ask what we’re getting out of a job like this. No matter how much I love the work, it is not a career. Are we there to make serious money? I don’t fucking think so, Watson. They don’t have that to hold over us in a way that isn’t totally laughable. “Oh, we assumed you needed to do this to make a living but could somehow make ends meet by taking all your poverty wages as a lump sum at the end of the season.” Yeah, sure. Are we there because we’re enterprising? Give me a break, Stossel. Working for a small business isn’t nearly as daunting as running one. I’m aware of this because I don’t get my ideas about entrepreneurship from Amway-distributed self-help books on entrepreneurship.

The itty-bitty personal crisis of my own that just ran into the bullshit over DiL’s bullshit about advance notice for time off is my dad strongly encouraging me to go to Washington State this Saturday for a very extended family reunion organized by some distant relatives he met at another reunion of the same family in North Carolina earlier this summer. As Mickey Cohn would say, I solve these cases for a living, and that guy over there picks fruit for a living. You go to family reunions for a living. (What is a “living,” and how does one arrange to work for one?)

The In-Laws will probably think I’m a flighty wanker if I tell them that I decided on less than a week’s notice to go to the San Juan Islands on a workday to meet some people whose family relationship to me I can only vaguely describe. I don’t want to set up a situation in which any of them are insinuating that I’m a dilettante who doesn’t need the job and can just kind of wander off whenever. Again, they are not paying any of us enough for us to make ends meet, and in my case this job is a short-term money loser, but I really want to leave this hornet’s nest alone. Financially, I’m doing this overwhelmingly for the Social Security contributions. These aren’t much, but they’re better than nothing. As a financial proposition, I can just kind of wander off whenever. I don’t want to lord it over them with this flexibility, but I have it if I need it.

As it is, I’m on the fence about the family reunion, since I’ve never met any of the other attendees, I’m a bit uncomfortable in novel social situations, and it’s being held on a summer weekend in an area that gets absolutely fucking swamped on summer weekends. Lodging is already scarce, even in Snohomish County, and it’s pretty much booked in the islands. On the flip side, I like the idea of getting some more payroll income when I have a ready opportunity to get some. At the same time, I don’t care for the idea of skipping out on an event out of town that my dad says I’d probably very much enjoy just because my bosses are getting up on their high horses about notice for time off from a job at which I sometimes earn less than twelve dollars a day. As a matter of principle, that just fucking sucks. I already make sacrifices in my quality of life to hold down this job, and I do so quietly and stoically because housed normies really don’t get homelessness, so I don’t like the dynamics of being asked to make additional sacrifices to accommodate my bosses in their quest for perfectly cheap and compliant labor.

I also don’t like conflict, so I don’t know where the fuck that leaves me if I try to take a stand. Mother-in-Law may do something over-the-top in front of me again, separate from whether I have anyone’s permission or blessing to go yuk it up with my conveniently discovered family. I don’t want conflict over that, either, but it may want me. What’s at stake here is not a functional, healthy, appropriate workplace; it’s the reemergence of an utterly dysfunctional, unhealthy, inappropriate, intolerable one.

Even so, I recoil at the idea of using this as leverage. DiL and DiLH have enough trouble dealing with MiL in the best of circumstances, without my reminding them of what a dipshit she can be. By windward Pacific Northwest standards, this is the humility of St. Francis in Lent. The way to really get the goods out of one’s fellows up here is to go to the sidewalk seating area at a trendy restaurant in a heavily Jewish part of Northwest Portland, rudely panhandle the customers for some help getting something to eat, order the most expensive sandwich off the menu, and further embitch the bleeding hearts who performed this Judeo-Christian mitzvah by hovering over them in self-righteous ill humor for ten minutes while waiting for the waitress to present the gift of sammich.

I’m almost apologetic when I’m offered deposit bottles at rest areas around here, so I know I’m not doing charity right. Homegirl up in hella Northwest knows that it begins at home, and that being a roundly ugly bull dyke in a crappy track suit needn’t get in its way. If our nation could have An Army of One, there’s no reason to deny our parochial their Parish of One.

There’s no way the Ditzney Princess has given two minutes’ thought to any of this shit. Awareness is its own punishment. Some of us are embarrassed to work for Gobias Industries. Others of us aren’t embarrassed because it never occurs to us that we’re doing anything of the sort. *Checking the temperature and confirming that it is not too hot to put on a fine black leather jacket* Who’s “us,” Kemo Sabe? *Gillespie dismissed, with directions back to Stoner Avenue* I guess I work for us, then.

It’s not like we were hired to drive the Coast Starlight to Klamath Falls and if we don’t show up there may not be a train tonight. There’s actually money and benefits and shit for doing that. Railroad engineers and that entitled, sourpuss bull dyke up on Glisan name it and claim it. I do, too, if by “it” we mean however many deposit bottles I can fit into the falling-apart cardboard box on in the back seat of my car and a twenty-five-cent tip for doing hard labor that feeds this nation. Chaka Can Chaka Can. Dem shine George coin. Chaka Can. I feel for all the wrong things and people sometimes. Some of us are a few Ephesians shy of a 3:20. Joel Osteen isn’t, but he also doesn’t produce anything but the oil off his own face. One of the nice things about Catholicism is that the Liturgy of the Eucharist includes a mandatory shout-out to vineyard fruitboys and girls, in contrast to what evangelicals have to say about laborers in the vineyard, which is usually retarded, but even the worst bible-thumping fundy can’t hold a candle to the Clintons for an insufferable Vineyard story.

Martha Washington, pray for us.

Interstate Avenue

When I saw the No Washington Bottles sign on the wall at the Delta Park BottleDrop today, my first reaction was lol good luck with that. My second, much darker, thought was that OBRC might actually try to enforce the regulation against interstate smuggling. There’s absolutely no way in hell to enforce anything of the sort equitably. The closest thing to equitable enforcement would be a regime that uniformly checks the origin of every customer’s bottles. That would cause excessive burdens for the poorest, most desperate customers and choke the entire system on bureaucracy, bringing it to a sputtering halt. Compelling bottlers to label their bottles specifically for sale in Oregon as a condition of selling here is presumably beyond the pale politically. Bottlers have the operational and financial capacity to cope with a state-by-state labeling regime more readily than individuals can cope with an intrusive inspection regime, but they also have lobbyists, and the rest of us don’t so much.

The sign noted that some try-hard safety club administrative regulation allows bottle redemption centers to turn away bottles that they believe to have been purchased out of state and to refuse to accept bottles from customers with Washington license plates. To illustrate this, the sign’s background was a copy of the blue-on-white lithograph of Mount Rainier from the Washington license plate under the struck-through red circle from a no-smoking sign. Frankly, out-of-state tags aren’t probative of a damned thing. They’re going on the basis of prejudicial suspicion and nothing else. They don’t know where the hell anyone’s bottles were purchased because the inefficiency of certifying provenance and chain of custody, of treating like antiquities junk that someone just fished out of a fucking trash can, would crash the system. The cost of efficiency is some petty crooks bringing in bottles from out of state. Big fucking deal. Just this year the deposit in Oregon was raised from five cents to ten because the percentage of deposits redeemed had stayed below eighty percent for several years straight, so it’s a matter of public record that the bottle fund had a strong positive cash flow until at least last year.

So we’ve got this really fucking neighborly sign outlawing Washington two miles from downtown Vancouver (why, hello, neighbor!) and telling Washingtonians to fuck off and take their bottles to an appropriate recycling center that doesn’t offer deposits, in roughly the tone one would expect of a sign cautioning sexual perverts to go to McNeil Island for their civil commitment. Cascadia federalism will totally work, guys. It won’t be anything like US federalism, or even Canadian federalism. It totally won’t involve a state that sent an advisory team from its corrections department to teach its counterparts in Delaware how to revive the lost art of judicial hanging or had a death squad mace one of its own condemned men in extremis when he resisted his own Saddamnation. Nothing located anywhere between Clarksport and Blaine possibly makes Erin Sharma look human, and no one in North Portland has a beef with anyone on the other side of the Columbia for stealing the Oregon treasury’s shiznit.

The prospect of the regulations against the importation of deposit bottles actually being enforced raises the specter of authoritarian overreach by exactly the people who belong nowhere near positions of authority. If OBRC tries to bar the door against Clark County freeloaders, it will end up hiring police academy rejects whose love of power for the sake of power has them on course for jobs as casino rent-a-cops unless something else drifts within reach. The license to interrogate and interdict certain classes of people for improvable petty fraud is exactly the commission to convince a bunch of officious asshats who naturally suffer from hypervigilance verging on PTSD and suspicion verging on clinical paranoia that they’re Inspector Lewis. We’ve got a regime here that threatens to breed monsters for no other reason than to root out a few sad sacks who smuggle thirty-dollar loads of cans in from Hazel Dell. I honestly thought Oregon had more heart than to do something that vicious, but I guess not.

This regime–again, if it’s actually enforced–will fall heaviest on the poorest and most desperate. Bill and Melinda Gates aren’t showing up with bags full of cans. The Delta Park BottleDrop was mobbed this afternoon, and I was one of only two or three people in the building, other than the staff, who didn’t look utterly indigent. Most of the other customers were dressed for shit. I’m sure that some of them were wearing castoffs from Goodwill.

Everything that could be wrong with them, other than a late-stage Marlon Brando wheeling himself up to the hot tables in a Chinese buffet with nasal oxygen in tow, was wrong. They were slovenly, slouchy, shabbily dressed, out of shape, overweight in ways that looked indescribably but unmistakably abnormal, underweight in that classic somebody better feed Kid Rock way, and in many cases vaguely distempered, hostile, and of diminished executive function. One lady in front of me was feeding bottles into the machine without looking, causing herself to lose at least one into a deep crevice beside the conveyor belts when it hit another bottle that the machine had been rejected. I was afraid that she’d curse me out and turn into an in-your-face bitch if I pointed this out to her, so I held my peace.

Heh, I initially wrote that as “held my piece.” I might as well have been doing that, probably. Going in there with only $1.50 worth of bottles at all-day rush hour wasn’t a compellingly good decision. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Nah, who am I kidding? These people are too harried to take a Sabbath. They were lined up out the door the first time I swung by; I came by a couple of hours later and joined a line that went almost back to the front door, then walked past several people who were lined up outside the door as I left after another fifteen minutes.

We weren’t there for our health. I have a cushion that will keep me going for another month of two on its own, for which I’m greatly thankful, but the extra money helps me, too. For most of the other people there, it must have been indispensable. They weren’t traveling kid grungy. They weren’t larping some crappy slumdog shtick. They were the real deal, the genuinely, generationally poor. I didn’t need to take a second look at them to tell that an extra twenty or thirty dollars would be a true godsend.

Police states tend to fall heaviest on the poor. An administrative police state enforced by non-sworn petty functionaries for the purpose of deterring petty bottle deposit fraud is no different. That has the effect of demonizing, menacing, humiliating, and degrading the poor. BottleDrop often attracts the lumpenproletariat, but the Delta Park store attracted the hell out of them. I was surprised by the sheer numbers, but not so much by the overall mix, although I was a bit taken aback, because the neighborhood ain’t so hot. There’s no telling how many cold homeless are living in the woods or on disused patches of land around industrial properties in North Portland, but the number is sizable. The revulsion of higher classes to this crowd is natural and to some extent inevitable; frankly, some of them really are the dregs; but it should not be encouraged. We all should aspire to something better, something more human.

I felt really uncomfortable with the implications of an official sign in an unpleasant built environment menacingly accusing an exceptionally destitute customer base of wholesale criminality and threatening to take extreme actions to thwart it. Examining license plates is extreme. Demanding proof of purchase in Oregon is extreme. The sign was probably posted due to the facility’s proximity to the Washington state line, not due to the poverty of its customers, but its presence in a facility used overwhelmingly by the visibly indigent was disturbing.

These are people who go through their entire lives, sometimes generation after generation, associating exclusively with other members of the underclasses. Their only contacts with anyone from the lower middle class or above are with police, teachers, social workers, jail guards, and maybe other professionals, most of whom do not regard them as anything like equals.

The rest of us treat them like dogshit. We other the hell out of them and leave them to their separate and unequal world of check-cashing joints, ghettoside 7-Elevens, and bottle redemption centers. (As bad as the last can be in Oregon, the ones in California are a whole other quantum of misery and degradation.) We pretend that this other world doesn’t exist. God knows I mostly try to avoid it, because it sucks, and because most of the companies and individuals who set up shop there richly deserve to go out of business.

The chronic degradation of the very poor is one of the reasons why Robert Pickton got away with serial murder for so long. The women he murdered weren’t just prostitutes; most of the prostitutes among them were homeless or housing-insecure streetwalkers with hard drug habits. He also targeted a number of indigenous women living on Indian reserves, which are about as bad in Canada as in the United States. He went after women who were effectively second-class citizens. That’s who I saw in BottleDrop today, too: second-class citizens living in a second-class society. No, more like third-class, to be generous.

These people won’t assimilate into middle-class society if they continue to be treated like thievish losers who deserve monitoring worthy of a prison visiting room. They need to be shown some good faith, some benefit of the doubt. The affluent wouldn’t put up for fifteen minutes with the shit that the poor face on a daily basis.

We can’t expect the disorder that we’ve encouraged in poor neighborhoods not to seep into wealthier ones, or to flood in unexpectedly, triggered by something equally unexpected. Bad shit taking root on the margins isn’t good for anyone. We encourage the maintenance and proliferation of reservoirs of ill at our own peril, not just at the peril of those who get stuck living in such environments.

In my own experience, Washington is a weak-ass canning state, but take your ass up to Battle Ground and get some bottles. Take your ass up to Puyallup and get some bottles. Take your ass all the way up to Lynden and get you some damn bottles. Take your asco over to Pasco, bitch, and get bottles. It isn’t a Wesley Willis song (sic), but it should be. Amen, in the name of Jason Lee, I duly abet ye all.

The permanent business plot

Being decisively on the same side of a contentious political debate as Tom Cotton is disorienting for me. It’s like one of my occasional mornings on the road when I wake up with no idea within three hundred miles of where I am. This must be the famous horseshoe theory. It certainly doesn’t give me the feeling that I have not been hit in the head with a horseshoe.

What Cotton said on behalf of his new immigration bill the other day was morally sound and pitch-perfect. He is absolutely right that it’s time to start doing right by Americans who work with their hands and work on their feet. He’s absolutely right that concern for the welfare of destitute foreigners is harming the welfare of working-class Americans.

Our leaders are not making a credible or sincere effort to reconcile these conflicting interests. Cotton at least recognizes that these interests conflict and takes an aboveboard position on whose interests he’s advancing. His opponents are too chickenshit and craven by a long shot to admit that they’re on the side of immigrant scab labor. That would look bad, and looking bad costs politicians reelection. Hence the rising chorus of complaints about excessive democracy from the center-left and the center-right. Democratic representation that actually represents the demos is problematic because it fails to represent the revolting elites. Let us #NeverForget how violently the Bern and the Donald have infuriated antidemocratic highbrow elements by appealing to downmarket constituents who hope for faithful representation.

Tom Cotton is probably first or second in line to infuriate them next. I haven’t checked the internet, but I have no trouble imagining denunciations of him for being a hapless hillbilly ignoramus legislating on the basis of old wives’ tales about the labor market and a spirit of herrenvolk reaction. What I heard from him in the press conference clip that NPR played was a clearheaded, workmanlike, and eminently coherent description of a serious problem that he has correctly identified and the reasonably good start that he wants to make towards solving it. His focus isn’t exactly where mine would be, but his goals overlap enough with mine and seem morally sound enough that I’m not of a mind to quibble over the mechanisms. He’s showing a hell of a lot more responsibility than the rest of Congress.

Before I get strawmanned (which will happen anyway), I should lay out exactly where I stand on a number of the points in question. I consider David Perdue’s comments about immigrants on welfare spurious and needlessly inflammatory. I do not approve of deficit concern-trolling or the opportunistic shaming of public assistance claimants, especially ones who work. That said, I can’t object to the immigration bill just because one of its sponsors is a minor public shithead.

I have no objection to the use of English proficiency as a criterion for visa approval. This seems perfectly reasonable and prudent. The United States is an English-speaking country. This is a matter of fact. Every other language spoken here is relegated to some marginal subculture; an inability to speak English drastically limits the ability of a person to function in this country. In this context, I see no reason to give a rat’s ass what languages have historically been spoken within the borders of the United States today or how objectively bizarre English is as a language. These are immaterial, distracting points, and I’m pretty sure that most of those advancing them damn well know it. It’s a language of empire, but tough shit. We’ve inherited an empire, so it’s up to us either to steward it and maybe bring it back into control as some kind of republic or be derelict and let it go totally to seed. The Mother Country gave us some ugly civic and political inheritances as part of the mix, but we’d be in worse shape under almost any legal system that we might have inherited in place of the English Common Law. The guys who ran colonial Mexico, at the time including most of the present-day Southwestern United States, were godbothering, slavedriving, tyrannical pieces of shit. Everyone living in that part of the country is lucky that the Spanish toffs were demographically and militarily overwhelmed, leaving behind a legacy of mission architecture, a bunch of misprounounceable street names, and some taco recipes.

Consequently, English is, as they say, our Lingua Franca. (It’s not just for the Franks anymore.) The possibility of there being anything controversial about this indicates a frothing overproduction of elites. Communication in English in no way necessitates utter agreement with everything the worst of the English have ever done. It is the language of anti-imperialism in the Anglophone world, too. Ooh, galaxy brain! It’s no less useful for running Commonwealth governments. Personally, I’ve always figured that if English is good enough for Jorge Castañeda, it’s good enough for me.

The point here isn’t to be bigoted or narrowminded. Having large, enduring enclaves of foreigners who cannot readily communicate with the native population presents a number of serious problems, for both the enclaves and for the native society surrounding them. This isn’t some angels-on-a-pinhead academic exercise. The wholesale presence of Mexican peasants in meatpacking towns has enabled the ruination working conditions, including safety, in American slaughterhouses. People have gotten killed in preventable industrial accidents on account of our feckless immigration policy.

The clubbable aren’t supposed to think about these things. That kind of work is for someone else, probably someone less American and definitely someone less educated. Meatpacking jobs were relatively safe, well-paid, and highly sought-after, sometimes to the point of years-long waiting lists for new hires, in the midcentury. They’re always been grueling, but today they’re needlessly grueling, terribly paid, supervised by cruel floor managers, and exceedingly dangerous. None of this just happened. Management spared no aggression in breaking the unions and replacing dedicated American lifers with disposable Mexicans, who have been replaced in turn in some meatpacking plants by Somali refugees.

There was never anything humanitarian about any of this. All this concern for the welfare of destitute foreigners is a disgusting conceit. It’s misplaced and wrong to blame the Mexican and Somali scabs for this arrangement; they’re just trying to get by after fleeing life-threateningly dysfunctional and violent homelands. All-American management teams, or at least very heavily American ones, saw an opportunity to exploit them in their desperation, and they took it. Throwing their fellow citizens, their fellow Americans, under the bus was just one of the costs of doing business.

Their fellow Americans have not forgotten a bit of it. The yuppie swarm moved past it, if they ever saw the faintest problem with it in the first place, but not the poors left behind to desperately try to hang on to a decent existence in wrecked factory towns. They remember. Few of them forgive. How can they forgive bad acts that are still being done to them in the most calculating, predatory, premeditated spirit? They aren’t fancy, but they aren’t a bunch of drooling retards, either. Society would grind to a screeching halt without the skills that they’ve spent their careers honing; it would carry on just fine without the fucking MBA’s.

I picked fruit again today. I’m unaware of any MBA’s who did that. Tom Cotton recognizes that there’s some hard work that needs to be done. From what little I’ve heard of his comments, he actually holds most of his fire. The extent to which educated elites, many of them proudly liberal, look down on and demean working men and women is unbelievable. Cotton’s pushback against this bigotry has been quite restrained. He’s standing up very politely on behalf of some of the most shit-upon constituencies in the United States at a time when there really isn’t anything wrong with standing up rudely on their behalf. The educated elites are all but literally biting the hands that feed them. How the hell do they expect that to end in their favor?

If you think I will or must vote Democratic because I’m educated or fancy, you’ve got your head up your ass. No one is hooking me up with the good stuff. This is what Tip O’Neill meant by all politics being local. My own local is full of yuppies who talk a great game about networking but never network me into jack shit. To be crude about it, my interests don’t intersect with theirs, and I’m not sure they ever did. Donald Trump humiliating and sandbagging their crowd is a good thing. They could do to be brought down a rung or two in a society whose working men and women have been dropkicked off the ladder straight into a pile of pigshit.

If I’m going to vote Democratic, i need a reason to vote Democratic. I’ve repeatedly voted for Dale Mensing for Congress solely because he’s listed on the ballot as a cashier. He could be nuttier than an Almond Joy on any number of issues, but that wouldn’t stop him from bringing Congress some much-needed insights about how menial workers are treated from day to day in this country. Loretta Sanchez gave me reasons to vote Democratic twice last year, but if Tom Cotton carpetbagged his way into a general election against Kamala Harris, he’d have to really screw the pooch for me not to vote for him. I wouldn’t assume that he doesn’t generally suck, but I know that Harris generally sucks, and I’d be thrilled to have someone coherently advocating and legislating on behalf of workaday Americans in the Congressional delegation from my first home state in its time of extreme yuppie infestation.

These are not sources of shame or embarrassment for me. I’m no MAGA shitlord, but I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say that much of what Donald Trump has been saying gives me rare hope and welcome schadenfreude. I didn’t expect him, of all people, to be the one to publicly take on the yuppies after his real estate and television careers, but I’ll take it, and joyfully so. For that matter, Anthony Scaramucci, an obvious prick, doesn’t disturb me the way Washington’s traditional lanyard dork army does. He looks and sounds sort of normal, other than his being a prick. The number of visibly abnormal people rushing around Washington is scary.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that hasn’t somehow disturbed Tom Cotton, too, and inspired him to push back against the yuppie swarm. The situation on the ground in Washington is hard to imagine from flyover country. It’s deeply pathological, verging on the Antebellum South in its hypocrisy and moral cowardice. Hiring exclusively Latin American staffs of presumably irregular legality is obviously a cheap and shady practice. Around Washington, it’s treated like a fucking Rotary cultural exchange, and no one has the courage to say otherwise. Of course it was never sincerely meant to be any sort of people-to-people shit. Has Marion Barry been handing out free crack rock in Northwest, or are they just a bunch of fuckheads? Hint: rhymes with “Buckhead.”

Bitches set themselves up, in both senses. These are not ones to live humbly or austerely or in truth. They’d much rather live grandiosely, lavishly, and in falsehood. Like #TIMMEH, they’re #LIVINALIE! More than a few of them look like they’ll imminently revert to his level of executive function, too. That has to be a great town to find a diaper fetishist. *Strom Thurmond, still going strong all night long* Now, that is no fetish, son; it is an expediency. Do I look like a man who remains clothed around a colored woman? *Strom Watch Expired*

I never expected Tom Cotton to be the one to notice that something was off about the joint and to try to fix it, but that seems to be where we’ve landed. Nah, more like washed up. But if he has the only fresh set of eyes capable of noticing that our federal government really is operating out of a fetid swamp, that’s better than St. Jean de Breboeuf driving an oil train through Lac Megantic. *Voice crying out in the frontier, probably in French* Brother, can you spare a pair? I can’t find mine.

That was unforeseeably bad. The bad stuff in Washington is all too foreseeably bad, and it isn’t just obscure blogging in bad taste. I’m in it for the art, and I guess the page views; they’re in it for the money and the power and the majesty. It’s past time that someone stepped up and tried to correct it. It’s happening in the midst of what may still be a real political realignment, so it won’t necessarily make sense. That’s okay. John Fremont was a Republican. William Jennings Bryan was a Democrat who got into religious meddling by way of positive law late in his career. We don’t need saints. As we saw in the previous paragraph, we really don’t need saints. We need political leaders who are halfway honest. Cotton and Trump are giving me that 53% feeling again, and oh hell yes, I do like it.