“Mother Nature will take care of herself” and other excellent Earth Day observances

Go shorty, it’s your, we’re gonna party, like it’s your, etc. What did I do for Earth Day? Jack shit, mostly. I picked up some bottles that had been littered on the roadside, but only for the deposits, I drove too damn much, I ate a big-ass pile of Safeway Chinese takeout out of an even bigger-ass plastic container, and I cut back some blackberries that were crowding out the good shit in a bit of wildland that I’ve very quietly adopted, really just to have something to do. Make that two activities out of four that were not ecological clusterfucks. I also went to mass in North Affluenza Heights, but that’s only tangentially relevant, as a way of explaining some of the excessive driving.

Even last night I thought a hot take to observe the day commemorating our increasingly hot earth might be in order. Then I woke up in my Focus, parked across the freeway from some still unhealed 140-year-old hydraulic gold mining scars, and got my White ass lucid just in time to tune into the latter half of Beth Ruyak”s interview with this fool, who, along with the Pacific Crest Trail quarterlife crisis lady, is responsible for this mealymouthed piece of faux-empathetic crap about personal responsibility for White People.

I’m originally from Palo Alto, but Steve Almond is from Palo Alto enough to have graduated from Gunn and then from Wesleyan. His entire family is named for California’s most notoriously thirsty nut, and that’s fucking poetic. I didn’t think to look up this dipshit’s background until Ruyak mentioned that he’d be going to an event in his old hometown, but it doesn’t take much research to see how unsurprising it is that this motherfucker grew up under the motherfucking Tree. Simpering, twee, overly earnest, hypocritical twits like Steve Almond are a prime Palo Alto export, and there’s enough coals-to-Newcastle bullshit in America’s SuperZIPs that they’re a leading import from other dynamic, forward-looking parts of the country responsible for two thirds of the American GDP as well.

This is why Almond lives in Allington, I mean, Arlington, now, the one in Massachusetts. These fuckheads never diffuse in a normal geographic pattern, as one would expect of any fluid. One would expect some of them to end up going to Sac State and settling in Visalia, because that’s all, you know, kind of close and Massachusetts is hella far away. They just have to go to good schools, after all. The funny thing is, they never actually go to either of North America’s good schools, specifically, Ryerson or Trinity Western. We have standards for our sheriffs, standards that they’ll never meet as long as they keep throwing furniture at the floor-to-ceiling window in the arrivals hall. Tsawwassen is a great place to take that hog for an evening spin, you know.

These assholes write off all but maybe thirty or fifty counties in a nation of over three thousand as places suitable for an undergraduate education, and then they go around accusing everyone else of being insular. Yeah, great logic there, guys. It’s inconceivable what they possibly do to offend their fellow citizens in the rest of the country.

The NYT Dear Sugars link above is, like its columnists, rich. The premise is that a conflicted member of the White Community is writing in to fish for permission to cut off her (his?) grown daughter, and maybe the other family twentager brat, and Almond and his writing partner Strayed (are these even real people?) of course say, yes, well, I mean, as long as it’s about your children’s maturation and you’re doing it in their interests, not in your own narrow interests as eager empty-nesters, then, sure, it’s cool to make the brats struggle and suffer to learn some empathy, just make sure to calibrate it so it isn’t cruel and unusual, and also make sure that you and your spouse are unanimous about it so the brats can’t leverage you against one another.

These are two professional writers, one of them with an MFA, being paid by a major newspaper and an NPR affiliate to condescendingly lecture upper-middle-class parents about how they have to be cruel to be kind to their children. Cheryl Strayed tells these parents to “give” their grown children “the gift of independence and self-sufficiency” which conveniently means no more gifts that impose any financial costs on the parents, and to let them struggle because they’ll learn shit about personal responsibility and being adults. Strayed’s own idea of young adulthood included getting divorced, through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself, and fucking some random dirtbag she’d just met in his yurt in Ashland. None of this would have been possible had there not been thousands of other people along the way, presumably excluding the derelict asshat with the yurt, holding down the steady jobs needed to keep supply lines and other crucial services available to the general public on demand.

Like so many other through- and section-hikers, this bitch thinks she’s Meriwether Lewis because she didn’t die of starvation on a heavily trafficked, well-maintained public trail, much of it within a day’s hike of civilization. She’s here to yell at us for coddling our grown children and not making them learn about personal responsibility the hard way, never mind that her own brush with hard times in her own twenties was with that no-account Ashland bullshitter on the floor of his yurt. Sure, she wants the conflicted, guilt-ridden parents to give their brats some notice of their impending financial responsibility to the elders, but she publicly bragged about divorcing her husband and walking a thousand miles to fuck some irresponsible hippie loser in a yurt. I haven’t read the book, but I know these fuckers, and if that guy she shagged was a responsible, productive member of society, I’m Herbert Hoover. Of all the people who could give others advice on acting like a grown-up, how the fuck did the Times find her? It’s like having Rob Ford yell at passersby for being crack-smoking drunks.

Steve Almond’s contributions to this body of advice were about how Snowflake and company will never develop empathy if they don’t personally struggle in the fashion of other, lesser people. He wants it to be an educational experience, like the Peace Corps or Teach for America or a semester abroad. I’m not exaggerating:

Remember, convenience is the gateway drug to entitlement. It drains people of their empathy, because it fosters the illusion that they can proceed through life without hardship. This makes it harder for them to imagine others who are facing hardship. This is important to remember, because your kids are almost guaranteed to react with petulance, defiance and/or guilt provocation. They’ll feel betrayed and probably push you away. But that’s not the worst of it. The worst of it is that they’ll struggle in ways that they haven’t had to previously. As parents, our instinct is to protect our children from this kind of unhappiness. But when we try to shield our kids from the imperfections of the world, they become imprisoned in childhood….Too much of what we call modern parenting has become devoted to the false notion that we can protect our children from every danger posed by the world. We can’t. We can, at best, help them develop the tools (intellectual, emotional, psychological) to contend with these dangers. And by dangers, I don’t mean gun violence or climate change. I mean the dangers that lurk within us — the doubts and anxieties that hold us back.

Maybe this simpering asshole can struggle in ways that he hasn’t previously with the hardship of a squad of Southie shanty micks dunking his soft egghead ass in the Charles River. I’m sure this putz went to Wesleyan for the struggle. Since I’m the homeless one here, it’s germane of me to point out that tuition at Wesleyan costs enough to buy a house instead, and also that the threat of street violence is not just in some overly anxious fool’s head. I’ve personally been a victim of it. Hence Mr. Almond’s calling to a refreshment of vigga in the Challs Riva.

This out-of-touch Palo Altan turned Masshole inevitably has thoughts on other people’s “stories” and how we can react to them, and Cap Radio inevitably has a slot for him to air these thoughts. If his parents had bought him a shitty fixer-upper in Pittsfield we probably wouldn’t be hearing from him, but they sent him to Wesleyan, so here we fucking are. One of his great insights on Insight was about how to talk to hostile MAGA chuds without hurting our own feelings, as discovered in the course of a stupid political argument with his father-in-law about climate change. It was the father-in-law who blurted out, “Mother Nature can take care of herself.” If we feel like having some fucking backbone, we can always call bullshit on climate change denialists by telling them that if we set a pile of leaves on fire in the middle of their living room, the air quality will take care of itself. These disingenuous shit-talkers don’t want to live downwind from a smelter with no pollution controls; they just want someone else to bear all the costs.

The problem is that this is exactly the case for dear-hearts-and-gentle-people woke baes like Steve Almond. They’re just as hypocritical. Climate change activists are basically as hypocritical and profligate as their finances allow. Let’s not pretend that Almond doesn’t fly and drive way more than the American average. He’s an upper-middle-class guy from Palo Alto who lives in a nice suburb of Boston and is out on a book tour. This motherfucker isn’t doing his part to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Good God, how stupid are we? He’s an above-baseline part of the problem himself.

The father-in-law sounds like a combative jerk. I know guys like him, and they’re a pain in the ass. So why the fuck is it our duty to respect the “stories that they’re hearing?” If they’re using stories, i.e., Fox News talking points, that are functionally psychotic, it should be a matter of basic self-respect to declare that they’re full of shit and that these “stories” are every bit as invalid as a Wesley Willis story about kicking Batman’s ass. Now, that’s a Wesleyan education I can support. Take it straight from the guy who got kicked out of Genesis on Western. That much is a true story, though, or could be. The entire biosphere being inherently immune to all human inputs is bogus, but Steve Almond is too chickenshit to tell his father-in-law as much because that might cause family drama and upset some people. Instead, he’d like to commiserate about the feelings of woke liberals who have cherished racists in their lives whom they don’t want to upset. Yeah, that’s who I always turn to when I’ve got questions about race relations in the United States: a rich white guy in Boston. It’s not like he’d ever blame it all on the Irish.

Maybe Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond can do an episode and a companion column about how to deal with college-educated liberals who can’t imagine that their own politics are problematic. Maybe I can go drink some drain cleaner.

I miss Lent already. All the wrong shit wakes up this time of year, and the guilt of breaking the Lenten fast has nothing on the projectile penance of listening to simpering overpaid twits pretend that they’re doing something meaningful for the earth before they board a jet all the way back to Logan. It’s bad enough that these shitheads have no particular principles by which they’re willing to actually live; it’s worse that we have to listen to them ostentatiously pretend that they do, and then be badgered to pay NPR for this excellent programming.

What’s going on, Devin, is that someone else is paying for that shit. Fat Cracka hain’t got the cash for any of that.

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Stirring the Bernays sauce into the /pol pot, volume two: no time for a eulogy

Our civic ruin will be our national disorientation from observable reality. Shit, phrasing that in the future tense was overly charitable and optimistic. We’re already living deeply and abundantly in that land of make-believe, unto our own walking damnation. We already have that inability or unwillingness or timid hesitancy, or whatever the hell it is, since no one dares speak of it, to distinguish reality from fantasy and truth from falsehood. We already can’t or, worse, won’t recognize the deliberately blurred lines on the edges of the real world that we arrogantly presume ourselves to inhabit. We’re already incredulous or even angry when confronted with evidence that we’ve lost our bearings in an onslaught of marketing copy, stage management, scripting, and other manipulations of the genuine into the bogus.

For God’s sake, we take “reality TV” seriously as a form of reality. It’s absurdly, nay, frighteningly easy to rile up people who should know better by pointing out that “The Biggest Loser” is a crude product-placement psyop or that “90 Day Fiancé” had someone behind the scenes instructing the tightly wound Yankee dork and his Filipina sweetheart fight over his nauseated refusal to eat of the whole hog that her father had barbecued in his honor, and for that matter that maybe, hopefully, the producers paid for the hog as they would for any other prop if they were reputable. We’ve got more than a few people in our midst who are so sick that they get sore when they’re told that maybe the schadenfreude is all a big show. Hint: that’s what we commonly call television programs. *Defiantly wound-up John McLaughlin voice* WRONG! It’s “Show, Show, SHOW, heah we GO!”

This week’s show is about a recently dead famous lady who never would have been particularly famous in a civically healthy society in the first place. If Barbara Bush were forgettable, we might instead have forgotten about her, as I had over the course of her retirement. I knew who she was, of course, but I didn’t give her much thought, compared, say, to her sex pest of a husband when he was belatedly revealed as an incorrigible first-strike rump-patter. But we are not allowed to forget. We are forced to remember.

Does this mean that we’re encouraged to remember her honestly. Lol. Hell no, bitch. We’re conditioned to remember her fondly. That is, falsely. This is why we turn off CNN. Ten minutes of Don Lemon moderating a roundtable discussion of what a great auxiliary stateswoman she was while I killed time waiting to walk to the light rail station was more than I could have stood if I’d given it more than half of my attention. That bumptious rich bitch had no abiding principles. Her career testifies to her ethical vacuity. She was brought up in a wealthy Connecticut Yankee family and married into a wealthier one. By all accounts, she never rebuked her husband for his bad acts as president or her sons for their even worse acts, respectively, as POTUS and governor of Florida turned presidential candidate. Please, clap.

If Barbara Bush had wanted the benefits of discretion and privacy accorded to a private citizen, she could have remained a fucking private citizen. She didn’t. She made a show of having “causes,” notably including reading to children, with the full expectation of receiving full praise for having a social bone in her Social body. Yeah, well guess what, white girl? Opening oneself up to public praise by deliberately entering into and remaining in public life means opening oneself to criticism, too. There’s a legitimate argument to be made against savaging genuinely private people for not doing enough to rebuke the bad acts of their public loved ones, but that was never what Barbara Bush was. She was deliberately public as first lady. Her husband and her entire scummy family used her calculatingly to humanize their looting operation. Message I Care needed a pleasant helpmeet, and he had one. This was a fucking PR operation.

But isn’t it worthy to encourage literacy and to read to children? Good God, how fucking gullible are we? Any engaged and functionally literate parent who isn’t in a constant, unrelenting state of exhaustion reads to the little ones. On the Sacramento light rail system, this is an example of niggas who have something to DO with their kids. #TeshTips: a fat cracka can be a nigga, too, although this fat cracka is a childless bachelor. We never fucking needed some Social Register grandstander with a spy of a husband to encourage us to do something that a supermajority of us with children in our lives were already doing whenever we had the time, energy, and basic ability.

Besides, homegirl was in it for the praise. That much is bleeding obvious to anyone who gives a bit of thought to how this shit all works. Just yesterday I talked at some length to a batshit crazy guy on the light rail who was carrying on, inter alia, about “how many dead people do you think we left behind in Rancho Cordova.” It ain’t me did that, lawd, it ain’t me; by God’s grace, I wasn’t even in Rancho, and I told my boy as much. Did I do that in the expectation that the entire mainstream media apparatus would praise me for my great virtue? Of course not. I don’t even know when I’d have taken the time to mention it in here had I not wanted to show what a disingenuous, attention-whoring dipshit operation this whole thing is, not to mention how manipulative it is. Every politician scheming to defund the schools and the preschools and enrichment programs deploys some basically useless family member to make a show of truly, deeply giving a shit. As above, Message: I care.

Hell, this aw look at me I read to children in front of television cameras thing set the precedent for Melania Trump’s disgustingly insincere campaign against bullying. If she actually cared about that, she’d go into a cloister and take a vow of silence. Of course that campaign came from the one first lady who totally looks like she goes on Snapchat to encourage teen girls to commit suicide. But that’s what we get for praising women for “devoting” themselves to “causes” just because their husbands are high elected officials.

The one good thing we might have gotten out of a Clinton V 2.1 presidency would have been Bill Clinton’s “causes” as first first gentleman or whatever the fuck we’d have called him. He’s so shameless, so nasty and naughty, as Larry Craig said in a spirit not having anything to do with jealousy, that his “cause” would obviously have been nothing but getting his own willie slick.

We were expected to worship that blue blood bitch while she was alive. Now that she’s dead, we’re supposed to feel great sympathy with her schmuck of a husband and the psychopath and the hapless dork she has as sons, an entire nation united in grief and respect. Dissing this useless story-talking broad in death is officially uncouth and untoward. We all face the grim reaper in due course of time. Would we want those who survive us to speak ill of us in our fresh absence and upset our relatives in their time of mourning?

Note that this is all about the Bush family, an obscenely wealthy and powerful clan, and entirely not about any of the rest of us, almost all of us poor, powerless, and vulnerable by comparison. It’s germane of us to ask when, exactly, we’ll get some fucking consideration. We’ve got claims against this scumbag family as an entire nation. No matter the moral justifications for invading Iraq, we fucked that up. I’m not here to dispute that Saddam Hussein was a classic erstwhile CIA-allied unsavory, but that thug held shit together where our boys and girls did not. Heck of a job, Bremmie. W then got Americans needlessly killed stateside with his shitty emergency planning. His mother, who might have shown some fucking tact or decency or modesty or deference towards the thousands of hurricane refugees that her vicious idiot cokehead dry-drunk son failed to protect, instead crowed from her position of lifelong privilege that living indefinitely in a stadium was good enough for them because they were poors.

If any of the rest of us are worried about what those we leave behind will say about us, we’d do well to consider the possibility that we haven’t been involved in anything like that. I did some volunteer reconstruction work on the Mississippi Coast after Katrina, and I didn’t invite news cameras along to glorify me. The average politician gets thousands of times the recognition for a thousandth the work, and I only spent about a month on the Gulf Coast all told. I feel a bit gross for tooting my own horn even to this modest extent, but it’s germane. I wasn’t a glory whore, and no one I worked with in Mississippi was a glory whore.

As that old standard from the Canadian songbook encourages us, we’d be wise to consider what we’d do if today was our last day. Don’t look at me like that; explain BTO. I’m planning to go out and weed some blackberries after I get done with this screed, just me, a pair of pruning shears, and an unidentified plot of public land. The point is that most of us will have people saying decent things about us after our deaths because most of us lead decent lives. We don’t need the entire media apparatus to preach our great virtue every time one of our relatives dies.

Not recognizing that the reverence for the Bush family is an operant conditioning campaign by abject mercenaries is an alarming example of national decline. We got rid of the nobles and royalty in 1776 to prevent exactly this sort of court sycophancy. The framers of the US Constitution rightly recognized the ugly servility and civic rot emanating from the compulsory worship and privileging of hereditary grandees. It doesn’t matter how religious or secular it is, at least from a purely civic perspective (the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches were notoriously corrupted by European hereditary rule in medieval and Renaissance times); it’s some bad, bad shit.

This is a family that is able, willing, and eager to buy its own praise wholesale. All this fawning over the dear departed matriarch Barbara is the equivalent of an ad campaign implying that the purchase of some truck will make a man sexy or a trip to some Indian casino will be a glamorous adventure in the presence of the preternaturally sexy. None of this stuff is aboveboard. We’re reckless fools to ignore the furtive hand movements behind the curtain.

It’s been said that the Devil’s most dangerous and effective wile is to convince people that he doesn’t exist. All the creeps and servile mercenaries behind this Bush worship want us to assume that they don’t exist. They want us to assume that the outpouring of nostalgic emotion is genuine, spontaneous, and heartfelt, that there’s nothing stage-managed about it. I’m normally one to find the St. Michael’s Prayer a bit uncouth, but all I need is a quick, horrified look at these people and the realization of how many gullible marks they’ve deceived to have no doubt that it’s for them.

They can fuck off with any solemn demand that we respect the dead. They don’t respect the dead themselves. The Bushes executed convicts for political advantage and then gloated over their deaths. No one writing their hagiographies has the self-respect to confront any of this. The only fucking reason Barbara Bush is being praised so effusively in memoriam is that she’s a Bush. That’s it. Her family organization bought all the good press.

Spare us the fucking calls for solemn decorum in a solemn time. They’d be exhorting us to sing a different tune indeed if she’d been Barbara al-Assad or Barbara Al-Awlaki. We’re still too Protestant as a nation to publicly pray for mercy upon the dead, and God forbid we call for God’s mercy upon some departed member of our pantheon of demons. It would be impossible to publicly say a Rosary for Adolf Hitler in utmost sincerity and magnanimity without being excoriated as a hideous troll. It would be considered gross even to discuss Hitler in universalist tones of aw, man, don’t sweat it, he’s gotta be with Jesus by now.

Come back with the demands that we solemnly respect the dead when the American elites stops conditioning its subjects to demand God’s damnation upon long-dead enemies and every passing violent criminal. Come back with this happy horseshit when we’ve stopped being a constitutionally diabolical nation up to our highest levels of power. Come back when we’re credibly a nation of mercy, not vengeful projectile justice with all the precision of scattershot from a shotgun wielded by a common drunk.

No, I’m not here to get into the weeds of Barbara Bush’s spiritual fate. Barb’s gone. She’s no longer our problem, or wouldn’t be if all these paid shills would shut the fuck up and stop talking the story of her great virtue. Her entire family is our national problem, in rather the same way that the Bourbons and the Romanovs were national problems in France and Russia. The conspiracy theory that the Bushes gave Mark Hinckley the idea to assassinate Ronald Reagan may not be accurate, but it’s fun, and it’s a matter of overwhelming public record that that family has done worse with absolutely no remorse.

Personally, I prefer to pray for the deserving. I have fairly low standards, but the Bushes are a lower sort of low, and I don’t mind leaving them to the collective wits of those they’ve bought. I’m too proudly American for any of this God Save the Queen horseshit. Karen Garcia aptly describes this whole spectacle as an elevation of Emily Post above free speech. I say, tie Emily to the post, make sure that James Traficant is satisfied with the width of his bottoms, and hand him the flogging whip.

Then again, neither am I here to shitpost pictures of the smiling hot dog dancing on Barbara Bush’s grave. That’s still a popular custom vis-à-vis Lady Thatcher on the British and Commonwealth left, and it’s a fun one, but I’m saving it for Henry Kissinger. Given all the disgusting, shameful things that the paid hagiographers will say about that remorseless war criminal when he finally kicks the bucket, I’ll have to be there with Franks for Hank.

This ain’t debate club

Let’s talk about NPR again, why don’t we. Why not is because it’s fucking hideous, but I still feel this painful calling to chronicle the horror show as I unfortunately witness it. Tonight’s misfortune was on my way to a 5:00 pm mass. Get me to the church on time next time, Bowie. Missing half of a much better than average homily was bad enough (I’m Catholic, so it’s hit and miss; some would say mostly miss), but there was no call for the penance into which I blundered for having fucked up a day’s worth of planning and scrambled to do emergency laundry at four o’clock: to wit, Michel Martin playing devil’s advocate with a talking head from the Kaiser Family Foundation about how maybe it’s morally formative to force Medicaid recipients to work, since a work requirement would, I believe it was, “bring the program into line with private-sector health insurance, in which you lose your insurance if you lose your job.”

Where do they fucking find these ghoulish counterpoints? Who in the hell, and I do mean hell, are they turning to for political thought? Is this really what they consider balance? NPR forced me to side with some random policy shop nobody who holds a sinecure to talk the story of the great effectiveness of our new Rube Goldberg health insurance exchanges. That’s how grotesquely vile their counterpoint for the sake of argument was. Kaiser is bullshit, but bullshit is better than eternal slavedriving.

How do these stupid motherfuckers not notice that we have a serious national problem, dating back to barely after the first Anglo settlement of the American colonies, with forcing people to work? There are certainly those who would racially inflame this discussion by pointing out that Michel Martin is black, and even so I don’t think it’s wrongheaded or off-base to wonder how she, of all people, as an African-American who doesn’t seem like a total ignoramus about American history, managed to miss the glaring slavery background inherent in her question, but really, this is something that every fucking one of us should immediately recognize as an American and absolutely refuse to dignify. No one who was raised as an American, US citizen or not, should grant that line of argument the least bit of moral or intellectual legitimacy. We’ve spent our entire national history screwing that dog raw. Regimes in other countries have gone beyond the moral pale in their own efforts to make compulsory the dignity of work (Arbeit macht frei much?), but our national history is, shall we say, especially special, and the recentness of it all particularly unpleasant.

It doesn’t even take a very deep reading of the history to recognize that it’s peculiar to our white-black relations only when African-Americans are the only poor available for immediate exploitation; the master class will enthusiastically force atrocious, even dangerous, even deadly, working conditions on white indentured servants, white sharecroppers, Chinese coolies, braceros, unaffiliated Mexican peasant immigrants, or Somali refugees the moment any of these become available.

This should be basic shit. If our schools and mainstream media were any good, it would be. The principle needed here isn’t very complicated: DO NOT FORCE OTHERS TO WORK. Some creepy shithead fondling a little whip in his pocket will show up with a story about how there’s work to be done and there are still lazy or greedy people loafing about without the enthusiasm to do it on capital and management’s conditions. What can we say in reply? DO NOT FORCE OTHERS TO WORK. This has to be nonnegotiable. We’re perennially damned as a nation because it is not.

As a sidebar, but not much of one, this same evil slavedriving impulse is totally why capital and management are so taken with immigrant workers and so hostile towards old-stock African-Americans. It’s accurate enough to say that none of them give a shit about the welfare of any of the poor, let alone their dignity; the exceptions are pathetically weak and contingent upon mealymouthed provisos about how these great bleeding-heart conservatives respect immigrants because they’re so hardworking, i.e., not a bunch of lazy white trash and niggers. The Community, or at least a large part of it, knows its own history and understands in its soul and its bones exactly how and why it’s evil in the American context to force another person to work, and more than a few members of Po’ Whitey get it, too. I’ll be damned, then, if I’ll go along with the solemn pieties about immigrant virtue mouthed by landowning shitheads who are predictably gushing about “our wetbacks” the moment they think the mike has gone cold. To hell with them.

Yes, that includes Jeff Flake. Pleasant conversational skills aren’t enough to make up for the permanent gentry campaign to import desperate scab labor without oversight, without regulation, and without consequence.

When intersectional bourgeois-aristocratic mouthpieces like Michel Martin talk about bringing other people’s circumstances “in line with” one another, they always mean to degrade the less unfortunate ones to the level of the most unfortunate. Funny thing, they never try to do this with their own circumstances. Gee, I wonder fucking why. It couldn’t be that behind all their principled talk about efficiency and competition they’re always looking out for number one. Nah. Reading recklessly devious talking points on air in the form of quasi-rhetorical devil’s advocate questions in a sanitized Brahmin New English accent, give or take some half-assed ethnic or regional residue, can’t be a rare skill. Don’t tell me that if that bullshit were opened up to a competitive international market of workmanlike English speakers with adequate enunciation there’d be fewer applicants per opening at five dollars an hour than their are to do what I do for a living (sic, but much healthier) over the summer for three dollars an hour or so, four and change in a really solid hour. With 75 or 80% of those dipshits, if they went no-call-no-show and had to be replaced on an hour’s notice, it would be just about impossible to tell. If these shysters actually believed in meritocracy, they’d open Tom Friedman’s job up to competitive bids from all Anglophone writers capable of penning fourth-rate stories about the inane comments of some cabbie or airplane seatmate they supposedly chatted up the other day.

The precarity and pain are for other, lesser people, people like you and me. We go to the City Part of Town; they go to Michele Kelemen’s beloved tri-city area of Wa-Shing-Ton. By the way, that bitch is totally a spy. Themselves they level up; us they level down, and hard.

This is why the qualifications for Medicaid, a social insurance program established for the needy by political leaders who had no use for neoliberal nudge theory horseshit or any other psychopathic Rube Goldberg scams to allow the talented tenth to interfere with medical care for the most vulnerable, have to be “brought into line with” the most horrific operant conditioning campaigns used against a beleaguered, anxious, distressed middle class, in this case the worst aspects of employer-based health insurance. The assumption is that the middle class will resent, despise, and chomp at the bit to destroy the lower class for benefiting from a possibly superior insurance program, rather than demand that it be allowed to opt into the same government program or that the program be extended to everyone. This is not a problem that Medicare has: it covers all elderly Americans, regardless of income, and it is immensely popular. For the same reason, Medicare for All is a very popular proposal. More on this shortly, but not from NP Fucking R.

Only a stupid, vicious asshole who hasn’t studied jack shit about modern American healthcare history insists that employer-based health insurance is the gold standard and a time-honored, sacrosanct civic tradition. The entire fucking model, of course, was started by industrialists to outmaneuver wartime wage controls and attract workers in a tight labor market. If the United States had gone into the Second World War with universal government-provided health insurance, the fringe benefit might have been a free bowling alley or amusement park or whorehouse or gourmet cafeteria instead. As bad as it is losing the income and structure and purpose of a regular job, or the income of a terrible regular job, it’s worse to lose the fringe benefits and have to scramble to replace them at a higher cost on the open market. The Affordable Care Act, in many respects a shitty, useless, overhyped bill, pretty much fixed the access problem for insurance applicants who, prior to its enactment, had routinely been denied coverage on any available pretext by the insurance industry suits and their pet doctors. This much Obamacare has gotten right: no more rescission, and no more cherrypicking the risk pool at will. It’s actually an insurance system now, not a pure racket.

Lucky us, though, NPR is great for stupid, vicious assholes. That’s why I had to side with an omg wow muh marketplace industry talking head and against a nationally broadcast journalist interviewing her. Kaiser is pretty horseshit, as I can attest as its policyholder, and I normally have no patience for any of the loudmouthed useless eaters who stroke off to the thought of siloing their fellow citizens into barely navigable and comprehensible “markets,” but in this case she was right: the ACA allows people who have been laid off or fired from benefited jobs to replace their lost coverage much more easily than they previously could have done.

This was, as insurance companies and their policy shops go, honest. What it doesn’t do is explain why in all hell anyone at NPR thought it was appropriate to ask whether Medicaid eligibility should be leveled down to the precarity and hoop-jumping of employer-based health insurance. It doesn’t explain why NPR is that devious and evil. This is NPR’s idea of bipartisan balance and objectivity: a debate between neoliberal market fetishists and latter-day slavers. That’s what forcing other people to work is. It’s slavery. It has never been anything else in the American cultural context. Medicaid used to be about, you know, making sure that the poor could afford fucking medical care. Now, we’re told, it has to be a mechanism of operant conditioning to force the poor, commonly including the sick, to work. It’s an incentive now.

Tell me why we don’t “nudge” some moralizing useless eaters into the deep end of the Potomac as an “incentive” not to speak down to us in this fashion. Dear God. These creeps who carry on about the dignity of work don’t believe a damn bit of it. If they did, they’d be doing honest work and not jealously guarding whatever Capitol Hill or K Street tit they’ve spent their careers sucking for all it will yield. I have never had a job that required so little skill or tangible productivity, and I’ve never had a job that paid so well. This hot take is closer to news than Michele Martin’s interview with the Kaiser Family Foundation lady. No, I don’t care to look up her name, but that doesn’t make me less of a reporter than Martin is for devoting an entire segment to a zero-standards conversation with some random talking head. I don’t post chats with vulgar bigots who know nothing about the political and labor history of their own country on YouTube.

Note that the Opposing Viewpoint (TM) so crucially needed to balance whatever conservatism, liberalism, or raging reaction NPR is giving some guest a platform to air is never socialism. Maybe not never-never, but it’s pretty bloody close for a country whose most popular politician is a self-declared socialist who nearly won the Democratic Party presidential nomination and would have won the general election had  he done so. Bernie Sanders isn’t a reasonable counterpoint to a lukewarm, vaguely true story about how the Obamacare exchanges work great, but the talking points of slavedriving Republican creeps lurking in the shadows are.

The dirty little wide-open secret here is that the news media will never, ever be objective. The only people who take that shit seriously are journalists and publishers who don’t want the peasants catching on to their trade secrets. Spoiler: we’ve caught on. We know that drill. It isn’t some deep, shocking insight among workaday Americans that the media have biases and are partial to one side or another. Of course, holier-than-thou newsies get wicked salty at the gnawing realization that the little people think they aren’t on their side. In NPR’s current parlance, this means that we don’t stand with the facts.

Oh? Gee, the “dignity of work” as interpreted by career Beltway desk jockeys who consistently don’t seek honest, tangibly productive jobs isn’t a fucking fact. Republican talking points about making public assistance beneficiaries feel the same pain as harried salarymen who are too craven and chickenshit to demand their own no-questions-asked access to socialist benefits aren’t facts. Values and principles are not facts. Where the fuck did these idiots go to school? Nah, don’t try to answer that; it’ll be hella depressing.

And what are the values that these shysters do have? The worst ones possible, of course. These are the values holding that the liberty of Fremontian smallholders on the frontier has to be “brought into line with” the bondage of recalcitrant slaves having their backs extrajudicially lashed and brined by the overseer under the direct orders and supervision of Robert E. Lee. Somebody is being shown mercy and charity, and that has to be stopped. We can’t give anyone the idea that the government has a legitimate role providing for the needs of its constituents. They’d grow insolent. They’d grow civic.

No, this does not mean that no one works. Let’s get our heads out of our asses. The only people who believe shit like that are slavers. For God’s sake we could get another ten or twenty percent of our population back into the actual workforce, in the sense of actually working, by decommissioning our bloated, grotesque managerial apparatus, much of which can be traced directly back to the social control demands of antebellum chattel slavery. Everything about this is disingenuous and duplicitous. Everyone who scurries around sucking the cocks of “job creators” wants the “job creators” to be given carte blanche to hire the most desperate peasants on earth as scabs. The loudest proponents of the “dignity of work” all want work to be a space of belligerent indignity, starting with their endless list of reasons to deny applicants the opportunity to work. If it has dignity for a sober Mexican, it has dignity for an American junkie, too. Oh, don’t tell me: I’m proceeding from the assumption that this is all about getting done what one can get done when one isn’t jonesing for the goddamn dope right this minute, not about finding reasons to punish and degrade the vulnerable.

There is a LOT of S&M shit in these corners. I don’t have much hard evidence, but I know it when I see it, and ew, I’m getting a raging clue! These ghouls have dominatrices for the same reason that Dennis Rader had a selfie collection. Never has there been a thing sexier than a male code enforcement officer named Lynn, other than, you fucking guessed it, a sexy male nurse named Lynn. That’s majorsly fucked up, but it has John Dennis Diddly on Washington. Excuse me, I said put me in, Coach, not put me in Coach. The bondage script-flipping that these ghouls need isn’t one that they can purchase by the hour. What they need is to travel back to Kansas in 1890, walk into a grange hall, open their mouths, and have William Jennings Bryan literally beat the shit out of them with a riding crop.

Or we could be led by healthy, decent people, but that’s asking an awful lot.

Ah, Harris, from California. Any relation to Robert Alton?

My state’s junior US Senator is up to it again. I actually forget that Kamala Harris represents me, in the spirit of #NotMyPresident. Not hers, either, or so she told Ellen. In a healthy society, you’d be wondering who the fuck is Ellen, but we’re sickos, ever more consumed by our own DeGeneres, E.

What Harris did was go on daytime television to joke about killing the president, in this case, of course, Trump. I was shocked and appalled when I first heard it, but an hour or two later, I’m mainly just disgusted. There’s no need to alert the Secret Service to this deep insight, but if Donald Trump is ever assassinated, it won’t be by anyone who was blabbing about it. It is, or at least was, conceivable that he might get his ass Stauffenberged, but let’s not kid ourselves about who would be up to that job; Stauffenberg wasn’t a big talker.

Harris didn’t go on Ellen, or Kamala on DeGeneres or what have we, because she’s a woman of action. Good fucking grief are we really that gullible? That’s real dumb, guys. Then again, this is California, the state that sent Harris to the Senate with something like two thirds of the runoff vote, so she’s my junior senator now, too. I’d rather think about someone like Pot-o-Shit Friend. At least he’s as entertaining as he is gross, out of sight but not out of mind, while Harris is never far enough out; Canada, where only Michael Moriarty ever immigrates from the US for political reasons, would be a good start. Harris is just a fucking ghoul: an ex Willie Brown mistress-cum-fast-track understudy who despises all other women showing the faintest signs of whoredom, a leading operator of the American Gulag who assumes that everyone else is trafficking women into forced labor, specifically forced prostitution. As with Trump’s bluster, that she’s joking about killing him is one of the least vile and destructive things she’s ever done.

What no one asks here, of course, is why she doesn’t call for articles of impeachment to be brought against Trump if she’s so horrified by his presidency. Trump has abused his office in manners warranting his impeachment. So did Obama and W, even more so, but we can’t start using the constitutional mechanisms provided for the removal of unfit high officials until we start using them. It doesn’t just have to be about sex, lies, and Trippy audiotape. I’d sooner impeach the Third Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions, but that, again, is because I’m interested in substance, and his scares the hell out of me.

Harris’s televised trash talk is a starker than usual reminder that our cherished political norms are nothing but ritualized performative theater having nothing whatsoever to do with substance or action. It’s all kabuki all the time. If Harris were actually going to kill Trump, or arrange for someone else to do so, she’d know that loose lips sink ships. Instead, I guess, tight lips cause careers to take on water. Weigh me down, Bridges; I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

Point is, bitch ain’t assassinating anyone who isn’t already incarcerated for less than she herself has done to society. The unfortunate thing, in case we’re hoping for the Democrats to win this year (in case, I said), is that her loose talk, even though it’s total bullshit that doesn’t put Trump in a hundredth the danger I faced from that guy on the light rail who was calling me “fat cracka,” will get hypervigilant authoritarian follower creeps to narc her out to the Secret Service on Twitter. Not only is this bad news for the non-shitty parts of the Democratic Party, it’s more work for America’s Better Qualified Applicants. I know, they’re selected for their patience and trained to wade through the horseshit, but good God, that on top of dealing with their protectees, and for less than the New York State Police training salary.

Sometimes I think that I’m debasing myself or, who knows, someone by spending so much time shitposting about Mounties, senior airmen, and the like. Then something like this happens. This is a senior member of my state’s congressional delegation, joking about killing the president. On fucking Ellen. As they say about sex in Maine, it’s all relative, so I’m really not doing too badly.

I can’t help but think back on the time that Harris was interrogating the Attorney General Mr. Secessions himself about the Russia bullshit, i.e., the one possible good deed of his career. The gentleman from Alabama became, as always, incensed about the affront to his Southahn Awna: “The insinuation that I do not support Kwesi Millington for Sheriff is a scurrilous lie!” Senator Harris stonily replied, “What’s wrong with Johannes Mehserle?”

It could have gone on forever, and in real life it did, but then Oscar Grant stopped by and stole the show: “Can’t say I’m shocked.”

Strokes of the Kaine

Let’s start with the TL;DR: Bernie would have won. It’s been whine o’clock in Chappaqua for years, and in the midst of the endless, insufferable, and deeply shameful carrying on by America’s most shameless about the advanced Transatlantic Russian electronic mind control that obviously determined the outcome in 2016, it’s easy to forget about the baggage that Hillary lost along the way, notably including her running mate.

We must not do Occam’s Razor these days. Interpret that as a description or a prescription, however you fucking please, but it’s true. America is a nation of Americans, and Russia is a nation of Russians. Russians aren’t particularly good English speakers, and in general small-c cultural terms, I don’t care for them. They’d be better off, and so would we, if they were more like Poles or Czechs than the frigid mess that they so long have been. Either way, they aren’t a whole lot like us, and this truth regularly seeps through in interactions with them. I’ve known acculturated immigrants from Mother Fatherland and its near satellites who slip into recognizable Slavic authoritarian patterns without warning. These are people who speak unaccented or barely accented English and have lived here for years.

The Kremlin didn’t have hundreds of crack operatives capable of catfishing as old-stock birthright Americans holed up in a goddamn cube farm to conduct remote internet warfare. That did not fucking happen. I guarantee it. The level of idiomatic fluency assumed in this delusion is rare in Russia, and the Russian government would not waste the career of anyone possessing it on intensive pen pal bullshit with a handful of mentally ill swing voters in the United States. Realize, since the mainstream media are too fucking retarded to say so, that this mass delusion of persecution by coldwater catfish assumes entire office blocks chock full of underpaid junior operatives who make Sergei Lavrov sound like an eighth-grade dropout. If that’s the case, I’m General Stroganoff; please, to the table, for Beef.

Sure, the targets of whatever electoral campaign the Kremlin pursued weren’t the savviest, but if we’re worried about their susceptibility to mind control, maybe we should fucking think critically about the acceptability of the domestic Bernaysian aggression that pervades our mainstream media and has for just about an entire century. Or maybe we should think about actually teaching critical thinking in our schools or on our public broadcasting platforms. We don’t get to blame a random foreign government for an occasional campaign of the same shit that we allow our own elites to do with complete impunity all the fucking time. I am not exactly Charlotte Simmons, but I do not hold with that. Go berate someone else for being Putin’s useful idiot.

Let’s assume that a few socially isolated voters were persuaded by people they assumed were Americans because they claimed to be Americans. This isn’t good, but neither is plenty else about American politics, such as our habit of spending not just hundreds of millions but billions of dollars per cycle on presidential campaign advertising. If we’ve got gullible dipshits in our electorate, it’s up to us to try to reach them and win them over, and it’s on us if we, as their relatives, acquaintances, neighbors, and fellow citizens, abandon them and let someone else reach out to them instead.

Then again, 2016 wasn’t the first time absolute wackjobs turned out to vote in an American election. We have entire political movements and partisan factions devoted to them. Any competent left-of-center politician accounts for the baseline of these freaks and comes up with a strategy to overwhelm their votes with those of a silent majority of those not completely off their rockers.

This is nothing new. The internet is quasi-new, but candidates have been navigating a landscape littered with voters and activists deranged by febrile campaigns using state-of-the-art communications media for as long as there have been media and electoral campaigns. Again, the winning strategy is to recognize that such people exist and to outmaneuver them by appealing to other voters who aren’t batshit insane.

This isn’t difficult for competent politicians. Bernie Sanders did not have any such difficulty. Hillary Clinton did. Duh. He was a strong communicator with a compelling message; she was a piss-poor communicator with a message that freaked voters out and pissed them off, as well as an aura of scandal going back decades.

She could have chosen Bernie as her running mate to shore up her weaknesses, so who did she choose? #TIMMEH! Who else? It must all be Russia’s fault, not that she had the atrocious judgment to bring that simpering ball of smarm on board to double down on Acelaland, but that ordinary Americans didn’t respond enthusiastically. Our swing voters obviously got punked by Boris and Natasha running Our Hearts Go Out to the Bismarck Family, Sad Day for Otto Von game. There’s no way that anyone looked at Tim Kaine and thought, good God, what a putz.

Tim Kaine was great for Hillary’s three-coast strategy: East Coast, West Coast, and Gold Coast. Granted, no one in the national party meant to win much of the other third coast, namely the Gulf; the Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth is a Republican tune in our time. Mercy, Mr. Secessions! That doesn’t explain all that interior flyover country, though. Oops. Someone fucked up, and it wasn’t the someone inveighing against the billionaire class.

Tim Kaine, to his credit, has been pretty quiet since his fifteen minutes of fame as a national subaltern failure. Hillary, meanwhile, has been all too loud, but not about what the fuck she was ever doing bringing that fey-looking twerp on board. It’s hard to think of another presidential candidate who insisted on such a ridiculous strategy in choosing a running mate. Bill Clinton choosing Al Gore was close, but doubling down on the solid South made sense for a campaign that was so strong in the North. Eisenhower and Nixon were two middle-class guys from the old Union West, but they were a career military officer and a lawyer from states thousands of miles apart, and temperamentally complementary enough. Otherwise, we’ve had Obama and Biden, Bush and Cheney, Kerry and Edwards, McCain and Palin, Romney and Ryan, Kennedy and Johnson, FDR and Truman, Reagan and Poppy Bush, Bush and Quayle, etc. These guys didn’t all love the shit out of those they chose, but they bit the bullet, if there was one to bite, because they valued their own electoral success.

Why the fuck should Hillz be judged differently? LBJ was hands down more obnoxious before Bobby and Broad-Bangin’ Jack than Bernie has ever been before anyone in his public life. If His Vigga had the patience to suffer Lyndon Baines Jumbo for the Southwestern balance that he brought to his otherwise High New English ticket, why the fuck shouldn’t anyone have expected Hillary to tolerate the most popular politician in her party as a running mate for his electoral strength in a big swath of Appalachian and Midwestern swing states? And why should we think that her bringing that smarmy NoVa Peace Corps Spanish dork onto her ticket to lock down Virginia and Maryland, reliable Democratic states both, was meant as anything but a fuck-you to the losers elsewhere whose votes she needed so much more? Not all of us signed up for the neoliberal operant conditioning and compliance testing. Some of us noticed space on the Trump Train, or the Stein Steamer. Quite a bit of space on the latter, as it turned out, but bitch we got 5.5% in Humboldt County.

Don’t come whining now; the other #Her, #With whom one was expected to be, crushed Trump in Humboldt in spite of that. The granolas weren’t able to fuck up a single county in California for Hillary, but we’re still hearing about what rat bastards we were for not voting for her, and I hate brown rice. I’m one of the ones who nearly voted for Trump, lesser of two evils and all.

I probably would have voted for Bernie as the second in succession, but I wasn’t offered that option, and I didn’t feel like scribbling anything onto my ballot. I’m not the only one. Sanders would have crushed Pence in the general election. Pence was a sensible running mate for Trump to choose, by the way; he brought the risk of alienating moderates but the promise of winning over our highly organized religious extremists. If you’re gonna run a smarmy dork, you might as well run one who actually has a base of support. The Republicans understand this; the Democrats blame anyone who points this out.

No, I don’t feel like doing the math of how Bernie would have won the election for Hillary if she hadn’t kept ratfucking him and his voters after securing his endorsement. It would have been more overdetermined than Trump’s electoral win ultimately was. 538 minus less than 268 is more than 270. QED, cracka.

God, it was only two years ago that elaborate stories of Russian mind control were considered fit for the al fresco mental health community, but we have more important considerations than our dignity now. If we can’t blame Putin, we might have to recall that Tim Kaine sucked ass, and I guess that wouldn’t be as much fun. Puti-Poo has his disrepute, to be sure, but damned if he doesn’t keep the worthiest enemies. We should all be proud to be, so to speak, Marching Together against such liberal scum, and since I was expected to suck on Tim’s Kaine, I see no reason not to expect any of America’s horrified and scandalized pseudoliberal bourgeoisie to suck on that. After all, they’re too busy pretending that Donald Trump is our first Vulgarian-American president to remember that Lyndon might have encouraged them to do likewise on his Johnson.

Of Horses and Hydro: The Great All-American Meritocratic Surf-n-Turf

This California city beautifies its streets with statues of horses. The reason why will shock you.

Oh. That again. Clickbait really is electrifying. “But it’s a town, not a city.” Millington, they’re throwing furniture again. Do you copy? Saratoga Springs has horse statues, too, and for what that’s worth you’d be better off sticking it all the way up the horse’s Regina. High Canadian public horse ownership isn’t nearly as respectable as it looks, but as imitators of fucked-up Englishmen go, the RCMP is an improvement on the old-country Redcoats, not the assortment of uppity Downton Abbey-larping gentry wannabes whose families never did care for the democratic aspects of American independence. Saratoga, where one perhaps summers, is a black hole of existential entropy, and as a rule of thumb the deeper the trip into the Adirondacks, the stronger the ambient vacuum of purpose and thought, but there remain here and there in that nonarable interior a few of what the New English like to call the flinty, who might actually be able to use a horse for logging or sugaring. Look at ‘er, big thicky with a strong sticky flow; I’d tap that.

In Woodside, it’s a lot more straightforward: in my lifetime no one has come to San Mateo County to do anything worthwhile with a horse. Most of this country’s horses, in fact, are used for nothing more than the campaign to raise the top marginal tax rate. Geez, even the Amish, who can justify it, buy many of their own on the secondhand market from outfits that exist to inbreed horses for minimal orthopedic strength and then have tightly-wound runts whip them half to death for the entertainment of overdressed degenerate gamblers. Any more pathetic and it would be NASCAR. I can imagine that I might someday rent a horse for a ride on the Pacific Crest Trail or something, but what gives that these rich assholes have as indispensable parts of their lifestyles the ownership of horses and wooded estates on which to exercise them, often supported by private stabling crews? If any of that is still available to be rented out or sold to cover household expenses, time ain’t tight, cracka.

What got me onto this horseshit was that my mom and I drove up into Woodside, more because why not than why, and she told me about the local notables and all their money. Joan Baez is one. Shirley Temple Black, or more accurately White, was another: a bad sign that her Depression-era childish escapist nonsense ever produced enough royalties, but whatever. The most perverse one was Tennessee Ernie Ford. I looked him up, and he actually settled in Portola Valley, in case we’re trying to be trivia dorks, but for anyone normal, that’s the same damn thing. My mom started to tell me who he was and seemed surprised that I’d already heard, but just because I’m equally familiar with Wesley Willis doesn’t mean I’m not equally familiar with him. Yes, that’s a sentence. No, they didn’t teach me to write like that in college; they taught us worse. That’s the career that really makes us look bad as an entire nation. Producing sixteen tons may not pay for the black lung, but singing about sixteen tons will pay for a Peninsula hobby ranch. Our most famous songs about the labor theory of value disprove our belief in the labor theory of value. For Pete’s sake, so to speak.

The most surreally fucked up part of this commentary came when we drove by the elementary school and my mom (taking it for the high school, I think, which is on the other side of 280) said, “Those students will all go to good colleges.” I don’t know what the fuck she meant, and I doubt she knew, either, but in case she or anyone else is wondering in horror why I came so much closer to voting for Trump than for Clinton, that’s fucking why. Of course I’d rather have an anti-intellectual dipshit who doesn’t act like he didn’t thumb his ass all the way through Wharton than an anti-intellectual ur-shrew who is still upset, in her seventies, that she didn’t get to be the class president as a reward for being the valedictorian.

The higher education system is broken in the same grotesque ways that so much of the rest of our society is broken, and the higher one climbs in it, the move overpowering the moral rot gets. Nothing will ever convince me otherwise. I’ve seen the pit. I’ve been in it. I may someday be convinced that the system has been reformed, but no matter what happens, no matter how much reform comes about, no matter what rock-solid academic program I might someday be admitted to by compelling, undeniable merit, I will never forget the filth I’ve seen or how useless the whole enterprise has been to me into my mid-thirties, in spite of the extreme time commitments and financial costs of my undergraduate education.

Any program whose tuition could pay for a house should include a fucking house. If it doesn’t, it’s a fraud. The pertinent point isn’t that I failed to apply myself adequately to learn the skills necessary to succeed in the professional workplace; it’s that the shitheads orchestrating this scam could have charged my parents a quarter or a tenth what they did and still overcharged them for something ultimately so useless to me. Hersheypark involved its own bullshit, but it fucking paid me to show up. The subminimum wage that I earn picking blueberries out hella west is another case of–you got it–fucking paying me to show up. If $40-50k-ish per annum (now up to just about $68k!) was what it cost Dickinson College to cultivate me a life of the mind, fetch me a cute slave girl and name some train stations and shit after me, I’m Thomas Jefferson. For starters, the entire administration could have been improved by firing the whole lot, starting with Bill Durden, and replacing them with volunteers from the faculty working at set faculty salaries; any estimate of a college’s operational costs is bogus until these savings have been calculated.

It gets worse, of course. As an alumnus (and incidentally one whose Latin, however half-assed, has to be in the top Carlislian quartile, since I just used that word correctly in the masculine singular), I’m afflicted with a pulsating swarm of social climbers who insist that the Durd had a net positive intellectual effect on our hallowed institution, nay, an entirely positive effect. There’s no exaggerating how deranged and pathetic this is. These fools completed bachelor’s curricula in the liberal arts and cannot discriminate between honest-to-God visionaries and geniuses and a bumptious carnival barker demanding their loyalty and money. They can’t tell when their own professors were all around better than Bill Durden.

As trained English speakers, we’ve got Anglo-Saxonisms at our disposal to call these what they are: cocksucking chickenshits. Eh, not entirely: “cock” is Frenchie. Need some wine, Lorena? If you don’t feel me, don’t even try; even I have a bad tingly feeling down there for having written that. Say what you will about J. Denny Dundiddly, Our Lord Joseph’s Servant Gerald *WE ARE!*, and Lawrence of the Labia, but they were never men of the knife. It isn’t that these collegiate fuckheads suffer from some tragic dimwittedness. The tragedy is worse than that, much more disturbing, not to mention insufferably annoying. They utterly debase themselves chasing after prestige, and they demand that everyone else enthusiastically pursue the same debasement.

Alumni can pay thousands of dollars a year apiece to join something called the John Dickinson Society, at which other alumni complain that Alma Mater, Tried and True hasn’t been doing enough in the way of receptions to recognize and repay them for their generosity. For fuck’s sake, I ate and drank better than that at the Dunkin’ Donuts out on the Miracle Mile, and some of the baristas were cute. That’s something else I forgot: these dipshits have purged their minds and souls of the differences between charity and overpriced institutional pay-for-play. #TeshTips: If you’re in it to get something of pecuniary value in return, it ain’t charity. I shouldn’t have to spell this out, but these are rich people, so of course I fucking do.

That’s just one seedy example of the Tammany Hall Payola bullshit that pervades what should be, and away from these assholes in fact is, a reputable liberal arts college. Dickinson may be an exceptionally gross case, but it’s far from the only fancy school being operated as a sleazy anti-intellectual racket.

It’d be cheaper to buy Snowflake a house in Lincoln, home to the University of Nebraska main campus, the US Drought Monitor, and Amtrak. Carlisle has none of that. I didn’t spend one red cent on US News and World Report to learn any of that; I went to free parts of the internet and had a conductor needling me about being able to see anything out the lounge car window at one in the morning. I did see the capitol tower, though, standing erect over the prairie bush like what we back east like to call a Big Dick, and a white one at that. Giggity.

Does Snowflake want to live in Lincoln? I dunno, but if you buy the house, you’ll own a damn house. You could charge someone else a fair rent to live in it, find some heartland Kato Kaelin to keep it occupied, have rent-paying tenants open it as a regional branch of the Kato Institute, whatever. The point is, you’ll have equity, and maybe even some rental income. When push comes to shove no fancy college will ever disavow the financial and professional returns on its excessive tuition; all the highminded talk about the life of the mind and the communal social life catalyzed by residency on a remote, insular campus is disingenuous, a red herring dragged in front of marks who have already been programmed for years or decades to fall for exactly that kind of crude bullshit.

Let’s think about this for a moment: is campus life at a school whose tuition might even buy TWO houses in a low-key crappy part of Lincoln, hell, even three, the only way to make lasting friends and have interesting, memorable experiences? Is that the only way to get experience or training that might result in a job? I was just on Zillow, so I now know more about the housing market in Lincoln than any Dickinson booster picked out of a homecoming crowd at random knows about American higher education. It’s pretty easy, because I try not to be a fucking idiot. That’s really all it takes.

If I’d spent more time on the Southwest Chief, I might be carrying on about housing prices in Topeka instead. Ours is a big country, damned to be run by its smallest minds. Spending $270k on a comprehensive program of highbrow training for the clubbable that only implicitly promises jack shit and trains those running interference for it to blurt out the fine-print caveats about how it’s really up to the individual student or alum to make the most of it in the event of any unadvertised difficulty? Sure, that makes sense in a way that spending less than half as much to make sure that one’s kid has a stable place to live effectively in perpetuity does not.

Gawd.

If SuperZIP parents are buying their kids houses as well as fancy educations, at least they aren’t total idiots. Some of them, I hear, are. Most of them are subjecting their teens to something verging on child abuse. The ones who badger their young children to interview suitably for competitive kindergarten slots are abusive, full-stop, and need to immediately divert the Upper Park Avenue Day School money to a fund for permanent housing in the Poconos. None of this shit has anything whatsoever to do with intellectual interests. There’s a bewildering variety of excellent material to learn in our libraries, including the one I love too use right now, , On Line. Try to read it all and you’ll make of yourself a regular MD Chapman. The point is this: if you personally or your children are devoting their study time to anything, and I mean ANYTHING, by Kaplan or US News, you’re wasting your lives or badgering them to waste theirs. That’s all there fucking is to it.

What rich center-left liberals keep not noticing, and often flatly refusing to recognize, is that more than a few of us have lost all trust in the very premises of this regime. The college tour bullshit fits into the hellscape all too neatly. No, getting me to “work for the Democrats” isn’t the professional and socioeconomic solution to turn my life around. Good grief. What are these people smoking? I’m not about to look for junior positions under any of the teeming careerist shitheads who ratfucked the first viable FDR-style socialist to campaign for their party’s nomination in generations so that they could run a hated Wellesley-Yale shrew with a huge chip on her shoulder about how she was the only qualified person in the entire race. As evil as the GOP is, it at least has the respectability of competently pursuing an agreed-upon agenda, with Trump being whatever he is from hour to hour. It doesn’t have an establishment that is in politics to lose, whimper about how unfair it all is, and collect policy shop sinecures as door prizes. I don’t have the self-respect to refrain from spending two hours on a second-order hot take about rich Arab perverts shitting on Western rent girls, but I do have the self-respect not to devote my professional life to an organization that is being sabotaged from within by the whiniest, sorest, most overpaid losers who pretend that they don’t shit on the very voters whose support they demand.

Some of this nonsense comes from people who know that I’ve been homeless. Gee, do you suppose that may have changed my perspectives on some shit? As it happens, I became homeless during a Democratic administration and due to the bad behavior of a couple of rank-and-file Democratic voters. The Party hasn’t done shit for me, and Hillary Clinton, a centimillionaire ur-yuppie bank sellout, sure as hell hasn’t done me John Dennis Diddly. Maybe I should rephrase that, but I barely have the energy and focus to poast, let alone to edit. Did the Democrats compensate me after the fact for raping me? Have they compensated any of their victims? Of course not. #MeToo, etc. The movement to reform this clusterfuck of a party has yet to scale up to the level of the entire party. We have many sorts and levels of what the Founders called factions.

The corruption needed to sustain this mess, on the other hand, scales up and down beautifully. If Woodside’s young are in fact going to “good colleges,” the reasons why can’t be good. Their parents outright buying their way in somehow feels the least offensive, since it implies that they don’t have to get mind-hazed by Kaplan and US News. The prospect of these kids dutifully doing their test prep, and mom and dad paying through the nose for it, is hideous, and any youth who drags heels or screws around when no one is looking or just doesn’t focus or flat-out refuses to take part is basically Solzhenitsyn. Not going to college generally means not being institutionalized, as does not going to summer “camp.” Hmm. Clap along if you feel like a camp without a fence.

Is it possible that these young Woodsiders really are that smart and studious? Sure. And it’s possible that I’m Junipero Serra. These brats have no compelling rational reason to street-fight their way into the big leagues, and besides, they’re as subject as anyone to regression to the mean. That applies to everyone. If this part of the White Community isn’t starting out at Foothill College while it gets its shit together at at least the same rate as San Mateo County at large, the difference is due to corruption and hazing. Yes, Virginia, test prep in the new millennium is a form of hazing, and in the same fashion the private endowment funding the Woodside public schools is a form of corruption.

As good liberals or whatever the fuck these dipshits think they are, they’re too dishonest to just send their kids to private schools, and no shit are they too entitled to put together and teach homeschooling curricula. Remember, though, the Bay Area has communities where it’s considered more or less normal to commute from Palo Alto to Emeryville every day for the sole purpose of enrolling Snowflake in Walter Hays Elementary, home of the Wildcats. I don’t necessarily know where the fuck I am when I wake up in the morning, but I do remember that much. There must be less audible sighing and grunting at Palo Alto city council meetings these days, since the current political scandal is about how David Starr Jordan, to this day commemorated by the middle school that I would have attended, was a eugenicist, but it would be impossible to rename the school after some local something-or-other Yamamoto who was not one because the public would confuse him with the Imperial Japanese admiral.

Certainly these are the pressing political concerns of a mature, responsible electorate. Admiral Yamamoto wasn’t the only person ever to do an American bogus; Leland Stanford, for one paternal namesake of the Junior University, was a raging crook, although what he really had in common with the Admiral was a love for the deaths of Chinks. I don’t feel like looking up the other Yamamoto, who had as much to do with the initially dovish old sailor who warned that war with the United States of America was a fool’s errand as Trump’s Stephen Miller has to do with the Band’s Steve Miller. This bullshit is being driven by Palo Alto’s dominant political party, the Society for the Prevention of Paul Tanaka for Sheriff. Nah, that isn’t quite right; Tanaka, today a compulsory Coloradan, started out as a Gateway Cities white supremacist gangbanger.

Is Palo Alto actually the last city in California to move past Manzanar? Dwelling on the misdeeds of dead white males (and females!) is easier than using political and civic processes to confront crooked crackers today, so yeah, I wouldn’t write that off. And, as we’ve already noted, Asians can be white, too. Before that was the case, Anglo Californians were so worked up about the Chinks that they initiated the Italians into Whitey and ended up with Bank of America. Thank you for the Travel Rewards. Granted, the North Beach crowd was a bit more Genovese and what-not than the despised Sicilians back east (straight from the mouth of a guy from up north: “They’re Arabs!”), but it’s not like the great Victorian defenders of the WASP nest wanted Garibaldi around, either.

As an alumnus of the Palo Alto elementary school system, I have had to learn about this stuff on my own. For the same reasons I’ve had to learn by my damn lonesome about how much of American politics today is a Brahmin-Optimate bitchfest, a rich man’s proxy duel between factions that hate the shit out of each other for almost entirely aesthetic reasons. That’s the Trump-Clinton thing in a nutshell. The hardhats got the Donald over the top, but he would have been a Ross Perot redux without the provincial elites. The Brahmins and the Optimates both cherish their privilege to loot the commonweal, but they have clashing ways of expressing their rapacity, and so the rest of us get to hear no end of it. The Optimates demand more athletics in their academics, while the Brahmins demand more women’s participation in competitive athletics (there is actually a sporting goods store in Palo Alto called Title IX; I couldn’t make this shit up), but none of their precious brats will be going to good colleges. I know this because Anglo North America has two good colleges, both of them universities: Ryerson and Trinity Western. Solid schools. They train great sheriffs.

Oh. That again. What a shock. But you know what they say: give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; pay a man to farm fish, and he’ll go to Saskatchewan for his government-funded midlife crisis. A river runs through, uh, something else. True story, there’s bass fishing in Saskatchewan, if you’re that low-class, thanks to the waste coolant from clean green Canadian coal power, and you fuckin’ betcha there’s fun horse time. In either case, don’t forget the Pole.

Great, Gerry and the Heartstoppers again; Lord have Mersey upon me. Still, it’s one thing to be a grown-ass adult who already has a job in BC and still thinks it makes sense to jump through hoops to go to Depot, and quite another to badger unemancipated minors to jump through hoops, at such great cost to their time and mental health and at such great financial expense to their parents, to get into wildly overpriced schools, as if their lives depend on it. There’s no end to the affluent adults who treat this as a crucial rite of passage, instead of just encouraging their kids to get jobs, and most of them truly can’t be bothered to think about what this stupid rat race, WHICH THEY KEEP FUNDING, is doing to the children under their care or to the society that they’ll inherit. Palo Alto’s high school students don’t keep jumping out in front of Caltrain because they’re healthy, you retard.

That’s no jungle I’d ever agree to explore, since I can’t see how I’d possibly be able to rundel in it. What, that’s not all right? Well, shit, white boy, none of this has been all right.

Fractals of sweet fucking hell

Let’s not tell my parents’ old friends on the Silverado Trail that I’m behind any of this. Mmkay? They’re a Boomer couple, serious NorCal foodies both, and they prepared us an excellent bougie foodie meal. Unfortunately, though, and inevitably, the recent unpleasantness, aka the hit television show Orange is the New Half-Black, came up, and the wife got openly salty about how she’s “still bitter” that Hillary Clinton lost, can’t for the life of her imagine how anyone believed Donald Trump’s sincerity for a second, can’t see how anyone thought Hillary was ethically compromised, thought Bernie Sanders was a snake oil salesman (hoo boy), etc. ad infinitum, and I was fluctuatingly drunk enough to admit to being a not-quite Trump voter who broke for Jill Stein. “You threw your vote away.” LOL. What was anyone finding in the big cans that wasn’t garbage?

We’re dealing with a fucking treasury of categorical errors here, and they all pertain to our national governance. The idea that any of these turkeys is trustworthy is a bourgeois fancy that not awfully many proles will endorse, and oddly, or, as Lambert Strether likes to say, not, the one Democratic candidate who won over the chronically disaffected and would have beaten Trump was a fraud himself. This was probably because he promised too much socialism and robust government for losers and shit, not for ever more concessions to the tastefully moneyed and the highbrow.

This part of it wasn’t too well fleshed out, but it was eerie. From time to time I read about upscale whiners on the megalopolitan coasts who can’t imagine what anyone possibly sees in any sort of populist, and they consistently sound ridiculous, somewhere between out of touch and insane. Here I was talking at length to one, who insisted that tariffs were obviously going to disrupt the economy untenably by raising consumer prices, in contrast to the possibly unfortunate but definitely tenable disruptions to mill towns that won’t get with the program in our inexorably changing economy.

Can we maybe see why Hillz fucked up in the Rust Belt and the Donald dindu nundat now? That’ll play just great in Peoria. Everything about this conversation was uncanny. The strident feminism, the even more strident credentialism, the total inability to imagine that the Clintons were anything but woke as fuck friends to the poor, the dissing of the parts of the Democratic Party that make voters actually want to vote for Democratic candidates, the fuming about how anything not published in supposedly vetted mainstream sources must be conspiratorial nonsense, the major-party sheepdogging, the usual shrill, crackpot versions of the incessant, proof-optional Russia horseshit: this was real life, not some fucked-up ethnography of the bourgeoisie or pathetic body of escapist striver fiction. Intellectually I knew that there was an actual constituency for this shit, but hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth, I realized, holy shit, there’s actually a constituency for this shit, albeit a small but vocal one, and I’m not imagining that these self-dealing dumbos who could not and cannot imagine that they’re self-dealers took the entire Democratic Party down in a campaign to teach lessons to the guy who keeps trouncing them and the guy who would have beaten him.

This shit was a cleaned-up Cletus Safari. The food and alcohol were better, and no one trafficked in racial slurs or chain e-mail urban legends about the darkies, but the ignorance, insularity, prejudice, and all-around extremism were just as bad. We’ve got a serious fucking failure of perspective and political acumen to act like it’s okay to wreck the local economies of random industrial towns by closing their factories because classical economic theory predicts that the locals will find new jobs in a new economy years down the road. We’ve got a dire messaging problem emanating from a dire thinking problem to blame Hillary Clinton’s loss on the pervasive intellectual retardation and moral turpitude of the American people and not on Hillz having been a shit-ass candidate. I forgot to mention that Victoria Nuland, according to our hostess, is a high pacifist and mellow-ass bitch, not a frightening vector of foreign ground war with her Slavic enemies. This is certainly the word on the street on the disputed Aleutian island of Kraq’ka-Yuwaq.

I try to imagine that this constituency isn’t out of its fucking minds, but then I listen to this whiny nonsense. Occam’s Razor suggests that they really are upset that Donald Trump pissed all over their parade of high centrism. For adamant Democrats, they sure act like they’d have voted against both Roosevelts for being commie demagogues. The vicious behavior that they deplore Trump for having abetted has long been a scourge on the near margins of American society, in our high school hallways, military barracks, and fraternity houses, and there’s an established history of the Clintons, among others, having punched down for their own personal advantage in quite a similar fashion, but this developer asshole from TV throws the usual niceties out the window and talks shit about other prominent rich people, and suddenly the cruelty of our political class is a national emergency. All the marginal people who voted for the Oaf of Office are stupid because true political savvy is in uncritically believing everything that the members of our career political class say about their motivations and ethics and never, ever examining with an independent mind what they’ve actually done.

It was rich that I got a lesser-of-two-evils lecture about us all holding our noses and voting for Hillary instead of waiting for someone perfect when I’d nearly voted for Trump as the lesser of two evils and would have been more inclined to do so had I been registered to vote in a swing state. I’d love to discover that the talented tenth has transcendent political principles or ethics. Instead I discover anew that the Clinton campaign and the Trump presidency have given them all brain worms. It’s truly pathetic. It’s sad. We were morons to think we had more than two choices in the general election, morons not to vote in the general election as the intelligentsia instructed us, and uppity dipshits to defy the intelligentsia by backing someone other than their preferred candidate in the Democratic primaries.

The fun thing going in Illinois this year is Democratic sheepdogs yelling at everyone to vote for a billionaire in the general election because the Republican is a Nazi. We’re already at the point at which the sheepdogging and the brinksmanship about qualifications and morals is like asking us whether we’d rather have sexy male nurse Lynn Majors as our nurse, since he’s a nurse, or Stephanie Lazarus as our nurse, since she murdered one. Yes, I’ll say it: she isn’t the serial murderer. Also, she wore some bitchin’ floral and otherwise artistic tops. Correction, singular, from the department of the, plural: was a nurse. As much as I don’t care to have some sieg-heil dork with a barely concealed bondage fetish in office, the answer is not named Pritzker or Bloomberg. Get fucked with that. This is like having a crackhead beat up the neighborhood pervert and then having an alcoholic beat up the crackhead. Score two for clean living, but what are you fucking planning to do about the alky?

If the choices are that bad, yes, I may vote for someone who doesn’t inspire me to puke. Look: as hopeful as I am about aspects of Trump’s trade platform, such as it is, I abhor the frat boy turpitude he’s normalizing, and I abhor the racial bigotry. Jeff Sessions is a fucking creep whom every decent Southerner should tell to go to hell. Whah, mah wounded Southahn Awna, aw, shucks, Millington, ahm throwing furnitcha agin! All of these, as they say, I didn’t need them around, anyhow. But explain how the fuck Hillary Clinton didn’t bring anything or anyone abhorrent into our national politics, or into our geopolitics. This is the woman who publicly laughed about Muammar Qaddafi being raped to death by a mob and then thumbed her ass while Libya degenerated into a patchwork of warlord fiefdoms in his absence. I could pick plenty of other examples hardly any less grotesque, but that alone was atrocious, grounds for anyone looking for, say, a Christian leader to insist on supporting someone better.

Is that okay because Muammar Qaddafi was a bad guy and a foreigner? I may be Adam Gellin more than Charlotte Simmons, but no, I don’t hold with that. Maybe that’s the crux of my problem: that I even try to apply minimal standards of behavior, like not maniacally rejoicing in a cornered man’s torture in extremis, universally. That is, across party lines. There are things I’d rather not give anyone a pass for doing, and wrecking another country to make a point about how it was fun to watch the strongman who held it together die is one of those things. Like hell will I be guilted into voting for any of that, especially when its primary challenger is too on-point and busy sputtering about his plan to tax the billionaire class into submission to brag about how much fun it is to watch his enemies be butchered.

Trump keeps steamrolling the Democrats because they blew their credibility on his shitty opponent. The lesser of evils is a relativistic argument (that’s why I don’t much care for it), and if we’re to be all about Christian virtue and shit, not bowing one’s head for grace at the Cardinal’s charity dinner is a far cry from complicity in the assassination of Central American dissidents and a leading role in the extreme destabilization of Libya. Meanwhile these same scolds are foaming at the mouth, on behalf of a woman who has spent decades covering for her rapist husband, that this oaf bragged on tape about playing stinky finger with starfucking groupies. That crazy bitch looks like shit because she is shit. Trump has that stink about him, too, but he also has Wilbur Ross to make coherent statements about how we shouldn’t constantly roll over and be China’s little market bitch if we’d rather get our own captains of industry to refire the hot mills.

Never mind. We’re all just stupid, ignorant, irredeemable bigots, and Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton, is obviously the one who pretends to enjoy going on factory tours.