Totally fictional fiction: Anniversary Coffee Date

By the end of the afternoon he was about ready to strangle the barista. She would not shut up. “HI! WELCOME IN!” “THANK YOU!” “HI EVERYONE! WELCOME IN!” Sometimes it was bearable. Other times, it was piercing. He’d finally tune out the background noise, itself an awful atonal asynchronous jumble of blenders being turned on and off, chair legs scraping on the floor, cash registers and ovens beeping, abrupt shifts in conversational tones from across the lobby, order announcements, scoops being plunged into the ice chest, and the horrible mix of punk, scat jazz, and emo crossover country they’d somehow patched together from the instantly identifiable playlists corporate approves for the stores companywide, and there it was again. “HI! WELCOME IN!”

He kept banging his head on the chandelier above his table when he stood up to stretch his legs. This lady’s greetings and farewells were worse.

He started consciously noticing and listening for subtleties of accent and cadence after he moved back to California, sounds to reassure him in his dysfunction and neediness that he was finally home. The way this chick spoke seemed off, for a white girl in NorCal. At first he took her accent for Midwestern. After an hour or two of her unpredictable but reliable onslaughts, he reclassified it as Lower Brahmin Northeastern. NPR. He had no idea where she’d been raised, of course, and he knew plenty of lifelong Californians who sounded like they’d picked up their accents out of state, even overseas. This barista had obviously not learned her hello-and-goodbye shtick in the community. It came from corporate. “WELCOME IN” was one of the tics he could date not to a vague time range but to the aftermath of a specific, jarring episode. It had appeared out of nowhere in the days after a different barista, also a white woman, also speaking with a cadence and intonation that belonged on NPR and only on NPR, had the Philadelphia Police arrest a group of black men for asking to use the restroom in her store. Her reasoning was that they should have bought something first.

She called the managers of outside, as some describe the police. She was already the manager of inside. Calling up the chain of command was her duty, as she saw it.

The Philadelphian was why this other chick, in wine country, was now, years later, bellowing welcomes and farewells over the muzak every minute or two. The Philadelphian was why the new protocol was to specify the directionality of a word that had been understood since before the days of what anyone would be pedantic enough to call English as a reference to movement into a space, not out.

Surely the company psychologists are aware of this, he thought. We see you entering our space. We are on guard for invaders.

Why have we been doing this for twenty years, he wondered. He wasn’t even forty. More than the second half of his life to date had passed under this surreal post-traumatic national culture, this regime of paranoia and fnords. Even after the horrific ongoing reaction to the marginally less horrific, long-finished attacks had calmed into something that felt comfortingly survivable, the country remained by any reasonable standard insane. Civilians were still walking around thanking random soldiers they’d never met for their service. He occasionally had veterans ask him if he’d been in the service, to his surprise and honor, or spontaneously open up with stories about their own deployments along canals full of shit in Vietnam. In a bad week it might be a naval deployment. How on earth he displayed a military bearing sufficient to make veterans think he was a comrade in arms was beyond him. It helped that he’d never thanked a soul for taking up arms.

“You’d be stinky for the next week!” “We all thought our gunny sarge was ancient!” The guy who told him this was sitting across from him on a bus, easily ninety by that point, miraculously still fit enough to hop on and off the bus without assistance and present enough to tell the old war stories from the European theater. “How old do you think he was?” “Oh, he was probably 35!” They’d somehow both made it to 21st-Century Reno.

Service, everybody was again careful to call it, something more often praised than performed. The ones who made it home alive were grateful. Nobody talked about the ones who weren’t. To be aware of them, one had to talk to soldiers, or talk to people who talked to soldiers. Quite a few guys made it home with little to say about Bataan. Whoever “we” were, white or yellow or brown or dead in Port Chicago, we were fighting an alliance of arrogant nuts that time, two grasping, arrogant, overextended empires in the habit of alienating the locals in their colonies with racist diatribes and massacres, plus a thundering drama queen who in a better governed Italy might have been prime minister for an August. This time, “we” were the ones who thought Afghanistan worth conquering. We were the ones who took up with torture-prone Uzbek satraps against a nation of the fiercest, most skilled guerrilla fighters on earth, on their own home territory. Then “we” toppled our old Sunni Arab buddy in Iraq, sending him to the gallows at the hands of “our” new “allies” at a time when “we” were increasingly tempted to launch first strikes on Persia.

Fuck, he thought, this is sure a society that likes to play away games.

He forgot why he was in there in the first place. “We” were “reopening” after “quarantine,” in this instance meaning that it was finally legal to dine in again. Not being able to sit down in a coffeeshop and just dwell had been horrible. More unprocessed trauma, he thought. More repressed pain in a country that couldn’t recognize itself as a whole if it tried. Everything here was a synecdoche for everything else. “We” were not “quarantining” on the kill floors to feed well-to-do hypochondriac shut-ins whenever they summoned a delivery serf to fetch them a package of factory-dressed meat. Everybody was not in fact staying home. He could never cope with the feeling of national dissociation he got from listening to trendsetters construe America to be California to be America and neither to include Manteca.

There’s everybody, and then there’s the help. Was he crazy to be alarmed by the appearance of bullies trying to operate a complicated, dangerous machine while denying the very existence of its most crucial components? Over half a million had died before their time in the midst of this national delusion about “quarantine,” with hundreds more joining them every day, the news kept saying. His parents trusted the news more than he wished, in ways he found made them more paranoid about ordinary Americans and more trusting of predatory officials. The previous fall, he’d bought a ticket back east to visit his parents the week New York State exempted California from its interstate quarantine order, painfully conscious of the half year they’d spent upsetting him over the phone with politics they’d picked up from homicidal liars on TV, mostly New Yorkers. He felt a wave of relief every time he managed to puncture their cocoon. This was harder to accomplish virtually. As much as he hated being so aware of this, on top of everything else, he was thankful to remain so oriented in the real world, and no less proud to have made it nearly a year and a half without going on Zoom.

This coffeeshop was closerr to the real world than his own apartment or, God forbid what He always allowed, his own head. America, too, was corporate. Its energy, too, was off. By God’s grace, he could at least observe it firsthand in the flesh, not just hear about it on television from hysterics whose understading of the world came from television. At long last Americans living in all but the most neurotic corners had been given back their dispensation to live their lives in public. He spent the afternoon seizing it.

The noise seized him back. He gave up on his halfhearted reading agenda and tried to do some journaling in real time. He knew there was meaning to tease out of the barista’s deafening greetings. He bogged down trying. Staff outbusts punctuating background noise were all he could hear or think. He was stuck in the tunnel of welcoming.

He looked at airfares back east. He scrolled his feeds on alt, trying to break through ennui and confusion. Nobody was posting anything that captured his interest, just as he expected for an Indian Summer Saturday afternoon. He left for church. He was mentally and spiritually dulled to the liturgies from start to finish, but at least some moral and aesthetic thought had gone into them, and he appreciated it. There were worse things to repeat all afternoon.

Four mornings later he landed in Buffalo. He spent the balance of the week eating goat curry takeout by the falls and riding an incomprehensible bus system past Love Canal and Polish cemeteries in black ghettos and the square where riot cops cracked an old man’s skull open in front of a live TV crew, at a volume that came through for the folks back home. He was happy to be back in the water for a week or two, ultimately closer to three, away from the boasts of serial Gavin Newsom voters about how little time they were spending in the shower.

Manhattan, strangled to death by public health regulations according to refugees freshly arrived in Florida, was more chaotic than he remembered it from the eve of the plague, suffering from degraded public accommodations but not to an extent that hadn’t been looming on the horizon for decades. The subway worked better than he expected when he went to the Battery on an Amtrak layover. The ferry terminals at the Battery and St. George were both close to immaculate. The grime on the ferries was unremarkable for New York. That was the perverse wisdom of the toxic putzes who kept worming their way into high office in New York City. They insisted on misgoverning the one city in their state that could not be killed. It never occurred to them to try to ruin Buffalo.

The American derangement washed back over him when he got a coffee for his joyride on the ferry. The franchisees were ethnic, Indian or Pakistani, as far as he could guess. They spoke with a half-Mideastern, half-Outer Borough diction as authentically New York as badly-dressed Jews rushing through Penn Station. One of the younger guys manning the Dunkin shoved an order at a customer with a shout of “Stay safe.”

From what, he wondered. He knew, but he wondered. The same guy exchanged safety wishes over the counter with two other employees before he got his coffee and headed into the terminal. He escaped the pleasantries. These fuckers know it’s a fool’s errand talking like that to reserved out-of-towners, he thought, and just as well. He’d read a bit about the Spuyten Duyvil derailment and the crash of the Andrew Barberi. Two at the throttle and at least one of them awake, seemed to be the moral of those stories. When he recalled the LIRR shooting months later, he assumed he’d forgotten about it because taking the train was still safer than driving and he didn’t usually perceive threats to life or limb from weird loners walking around all pissed off about shit.

There were eyes everywhere in both terminals. A black private security guard ran a bomb-sniffing dog over his suitcase on his way into the Battery terminal; in St. George, it was two Italian cops in khakis, probably Port Authority but not worth trying to tell. Two security guards all but rushe him into the elevator on the Battery when he tried to take the escalator. Baggage. Nobody was going to get injured by it.

Eyes.

His trip went fine in spite of them, off without any additional hitches. He made it downtown and back to midtown on the train without incident, barely even delays. Might he see somebody tonight? It was a month after the floods, two before the government gas exercises, and another few until the attacks. The goddamn government.

He’d come in a good season.

The Barberi pushed out, past the single looming needle that replaced the pair of looming towers, making one out of two, past Ellis Island, past the dock cranes of Bayonne, past the Statue of Liberty. A city might be overrun with the worst Irishmen and Italians, the worst Pollacks, even the worst Jews, and despite it all it might still be home to a big French broad who’s always got a light. As the mayor said that garish bright fall, we harbor all kinds. His police agreed.

Few understood them.

Dammit, he thought. Understanding. Jesus came to understand things at Gethsemane, and look what that got him. An entire generation had now been born, the oldest and most precocious of them fully raised, under the guidance of hopelessly idiotic paranoiacs. In a parallel timeline, he might have become a paranoid idiot, not a paranoid visionary, silently trying to understand.

It’s a horrible country, he realized, but it ain’t bad. From this expanse of the Bay, the Brooklyn side, midway between the hipsters, the yuppies, and the cops, a fellow might mistake her for a Jersey girl.

Welcome the hell in.

You Cut The Customer. We’ll Cut The Costs. That’s The Countdown Commitment (TM).

The good arrogant people of Auckland got to enjoy some real SEPTA-grade knife work this past week. One in the local beards in residence whole-ass 61-Ridge cut a baker’s half-dozen bitches in the supermarket, in this case at the LynnMall, and that sounds like majors fun. The average Kiwi can only guess where the country is in its latest countdown to the next stochastic mass-casualty attack, although, in all fairness,given the official overreach in plaguetime and the disclosure that this random angry ex-con was shot dead on a minute’s notice by his own 24/7 surveillance detail, a casual observer might be forgiven for detemining that the average New Zealander is a cop.

It’s always fun when a grossly overpoliced country with a troublingly high incarceration rate and a habit of addressing its simmering racial tensions with performances of right sentiment proclaims its own national exceptionalism vis-a-vis its biggest, strongest eye of five. Washington may be the world leader and Wellington one of the stragglers, but Gough Whitlam tho. At least Australia has the common consideration to take that stance as a federation.

Love that rude old Anglo tradition of self-government.

The story holds that the real attitude problem starts beyond the Bombay Hills. But there seems to be a gap in the pines, letting the aggression through. I mention this because my parents and I drove within two blocks of the Central Dunedin Countdown, the site of this year’s first mass stabbing, and by all evidence we’ve been in the Auckland Airport more recently than the Current Individual. An old bald prick with immigration demanded my driver’s license and then told me I should shave next time because I didn’t match my passport photo before he let me leave the country. Meanwhile this dude was a Gary Glitter-grade cop attractant and they couldn’t bundle his ass across town and onto a one-way flight abroad. Dun nuh nuh nuh nuh. Huh. How bow dah.

We also spent a night in Riccarton, three or four blocks up Deans Avenue from the Masjid al-Noor. For some reason I didn’t look up the locations of the massacre and had no idea at the time. I went for a walk downtown through the park when I was there, and I mean, I’ve suffered from my share of postmodern ennui, so I don’t entirely know what gives. Guess I’m no individual. Is there no way to hire adrift local kine yoof to pick mangoes instead of jailing charter widebodies full of Vanuatuans in Howard Springs for a fortnight? I’m absolutely in earnest about this. I’ve been picking tomatoes commercially this summer long enough to get sprung from the Springs. It’s good for the food supply, and it’s damn well good for me.

Then again, Australia gave Mark Wahlberg priority for quarantine over its own citizens stranded abroad. I’m waiting to hear about some shifty billionaire sneaking, or getting snuck, into Queenstown without offcial dispensation. New Zealand is expensive enough that its border officers and police are guaranteed for sale, maybe not all of them, but it only takes one.

Or, in the case of our man in New Lynn, thirty. What’s going on there? What’s going on HERE? The FedEx Hoosier brony had been interviewed by the FBI. Nova Scotia isn’t exactly here, even in Maine, but Gabriel Wortman was known to the RCMP. Sick Willie, too, of course: woman after woman desperately begging the cops to investigate him, one Vancouver sergeant hitting a brick wall and getting ridiculed around the office for taking them seriously, and then, supposedly out of nowhere, a rookie Mountie burning the guy on a gun warrant. The trolley time hothead in San Jose had been found with a diary containing a screed about how much he hated the VTA when he was pulled aside for secondary inspection on his way back from the Philippines.

The Individual, briefly of Christchurch, now of Auckland (but not one of the nice parts), had to have been known to NZ Immigration and the police. I have trouble believing they were too incompetent to know where he’d been on his trips abroad. They had to have had an idea. They’re in touch with their counterparts all the time. They”re constantly snooping on all sorts of people, mostly good, for all sorts of reasons, mostly bad. New Zealand’s population is barely larger than the combined populations of Brooklyn and Queens. It famously has rural folkways resembling Vermont’s, although it’s a deceptively urbanized country, but still, somebody needs to run the farms and ports and warehouses, drive the trucks, and run the butcher shop at Countdown. #TooSoon. When a country of only five million fields its own national intelligence servces to liaise with the three-letter agencies in the Potomac Swamp in addition to lavishing its police, prisons, and courts with money and personnel, it’s surely by design a country of professional busybodies and snitches. Sure enough, New Zealand does a terrible job regulating the shit that matters, like rent, mold in expensive low-end rentals, and utility rates. It celebrates Maori liveries, though!

It probably shouldn’t come as a shock that Jacinda Ardern is in charge of the Society for the Prevention of Monty Robinson for Police Commissioner. We might say the Countdown detail put the lead into leadership the other day. Again, #TooSoon. They think it makes them look good, just like they think when they scrub the old imperial liveries off the Air New Zealand planes, but these are the same cops who insisted on not following our dude closely enough to stop him BEFORE he cut up the Countdown. They didn’t want him to think he was under surveillance, you see.

Bullshit. How did they imagine a normal person would react to having the same rotating cast of suspicious characters popping up out of the woodwork in the middle distance every day or two while he went about his own business? They turned him into a paranoiac. He’d already been in prison, a known breeding ground for mental illness. If he’d told, say, a therapist he was being followed, he would have been correct.

“Goodness, that sounds farfetched.” Yeah, that’s the point. These suspicions are implausibly bizarre by design. Why would some foreigner have his own snoops following him around at all times? The police would never do that! Please. They’re out solving crimes. They don’t have the time to waste on that kind of nonsense. Buddy’s seeing things.

Indeed. He’s seeing things that are there, always lurking in the background of his life. He fell for a gaslighting campaign. Who wouldn’t? The police drove him literally crazy. When, still under their eerily watchful eyes–more like sixty, am I right fellas–he snapped, they were there to shoot him down on a big box floor, but not before he slashed several other shoppers.

Every one of them should be sued into a moldy downmarket flat for being close enough to send that poor guy over the edge but too far away to actually stop him from committing a violent attack on the general public. Their whole story is that he was a threat to public safety. No kidding. I know nothing in particular about what New Zealand has in the way of sovereign immunity, but they should sue everyone involved for not doing their jobs.

Of course, for that matter, it’s tricky to say what exactly was their job. The dirty thirty trailing this dipshit around Auckland officially report internally to Andrew Coster and externally to Jacinda Ardern, as Liz reigns but does not rule. Gough gough something something Pine Gap something something gough gough. Alexander Acosta mentioned characters lurking in the shadows BEHIND Jeffrey Epstein. Wood does dat godda do wid pussy? Probably a lot. Now I’m not here to assert that he killed himself, or that he’s dead, only that he belongs to intelligence.

On New Zealand’s per capita basis, the Tri-State could field four national intelligence services, perhaps even five (!). Every one of them might be an improvement, as long as [locate your nearest airsickness bags] the district lines didn’t gerrymander the “up-and-coming” parts of Brooklyn and the Connecticut Shore into Manhattan. Park Slope and Williamsburg won’t be the only things “coming back” up your throat and “revitalizing” your mouth by the time you’re done thinking about that and definitely done with lunch.

God knows how many smug nationalistic sermons are still in the pipeline vis-a-vis Kiwi moral superiority and this most recent Countdown caper. The ones I bought at Safeway a while back weren’t bad, but I’m all for comparison shopping. New Zealand is the cone tray with the beast vellues, the beast pull lease, the beast six, the beast loires, the beast all the reast of et.

Give it a rest, mate. That whole society dealt with Brenton Tarrant as a cultural institution by denying him object permanence. To reverse effect and cause, everybody on earth who finds his message resonant and has an internet connection knows his name. The same idiot impulse is why the NZ government thinks dually rechristening their land as Aotearoa is a reasonable substitute for the currently absent regulations that would make it possible for ordinary Maoris to afford their electric bills.

Forgive me for being in no mood to listen to any of these self-righteous phonies. Their prison service has seized the moral low ground from any of the local color who would get fed up with The Individual and dispatch him with a shank to the neck. For a time the waiting list for returning citizens and permanent residents to get hotel quarantine slots stretched to a full year. Think about this for a second. These poor saps signed up to wait a year for the privilege to spend two weeks locked in a hotel room under paramilitary guard.

At heart, this is not a decently governed country. At least its spook cops had the decency and good sense to let our Sri Lankan friend go out and about in the neighborhood and ice him on the spot when he snapped, albeit with a made-for-TV delay. None of these antics prove anything good. Victoria imposed a similar public health lockdown for three and a half months and still very nearly let Covid-19 go endemic. It went fully endemic in swathes of Continental Europe that imposed equally draconian lockdowns. New Zealand has a population close to Victoria’s and overseas shipping ties that would take years to sever without causing catastrophic failures of domestic supply chains. During the first lockdown, its truckers were grateful to businesses in Ashburton for allowing them to use public restrooms.

This applies mainly to the United States, but I do not accept chastisement on behalf of societies that refuse to provide their own people with toileting and bathing facilities. That’s an intolerable regression of human development levels. It’s the stuff of failed states. It doesn’t matter why they crack down. Plague is no excuse. Indoor plumbing saves lives. Everything about the shutdown of public services is an attack on the vulnerable poor to assuage the hysterical fears of the coddled affluent. The affluent vote, and they lose their minds at the possibility of exposure to the diseases of the poor. They’re scared to death of equity, as some of them lately like to call it.

New Zealand’s virtues here are damningly weak. Kiwi normies have the decency to grant foreign countries a degree of object permanence they deliberately deny their own politically inflammatory criminal undesirables, but it’s mainly on account of national narcissism. Where Brahmin Americans assert their own ritual purity to elevate themselves above the ritually impure servant castes, whom they casually dehumanize (“just pay everybody to stay home”), New Zealand proclaims itself the supreme Brahmin country, a national caste apart and above. Yeah, how much bulk grain are yinz importing from unhealthy second-world states like the Dakotas?

Again, in fairness, it’s somewhat less insufferable and toxic than the corresponding stance in California. I always enjoy listening to voters who seem to grossly outnumber their sensible neighbors preen about how Tinder and Uber use less water per capita and per unit GDP than the almond groves of Lost Hills. It’s also cool and normal that they maintain much higher almond content in their feed than I do in mine.

On the defecit side of the ledger, New Zealand has no viable political opposition to the biosecurity fortress state its government rolled out overnight last year. We have the Sierra Foothills, whose local rich get their own groceries. Hell, even Victoria has crazy Facebook moms.

Why does everything in New Zealand have to be all Cares Emoji? The Ardern government can’t even govern their own police.

I knew I had a reason for stickng with New World.

Fauci and the fuzz

The Rotterdam curfew riots were good. There’s no need to pussyfoot around the ethical nuances of when, how, and why one is allowed to protest during a global pandemic or the associated “lockdown” and “quarantine”–moron this language in a bit–when the cops are seizing their latest official excuse to get out of line. It’s quite straightforward. The government issued an outrageous order, and the public angrily, forcefully, proudly resisted its execution, out in the street. Out in the street, indeed. They reacted proportionally and appropriately. When the Dutch government declares bedtime and orders its citizens back to quarters, the proper response is to go Electric Avenue on Europe’s strappingest ethnic street gang.

The left makes a significant mistake when it reacts squeamishly to such assertions by the aggrieved governed against an abusive government. The police are hopeless to deescalate disputes over outrageous diktats that they are personally doing their violent best to enforce at the moment. The Arab Street might not have gone home if the cops had stood down and let them hold the street, but they most likely would have dispersed into manageable, peaceable groups. All they wanted to do was hang out at night in peace. People who are allowed to do so pretty quickly stop marching into intersections and throwing projectiles at cops. They think, huh, it could be me on that tram, trying to go clubbing downtown, while some other asshole throws rotten eggs at the windshield.

The cops know this. This is why they escalate.

The ethnic nature of the Rotterdam riots makes some uncomfortable. Restive darkies call the social project of Postwar Europe into question. This is especially true for dutiful bourgeois liberals who think in terms of ethnic and partisan stereotypes. They hate not to think of the savages as noble. Stipulating the occasional violence of nonwhites might play into the hands of the alt-right or something. It couldn’t just be, even in a particular instance, a group of constituents hitting back because they’re sick of being mistreated by their shitty government.

What’s that? It’s bedtime? New phone who dis.

Certainly the question of what brown can do for you–You’re up? Still? At this late hour?–is by now a hoary one, one dating houelle becq into the pest. Are there problems with the politics of De Joof? Okay, maybe, but why the hell do we care? Their objection in Rotterdam was to a mercifully somewhat inept attempt by their government to apply a version of the same lockdowns that had already mass-traumatized the populations of Spain, France, and Italy, some of the same countries that had also achieved world-leading reported fatality rates from The Dread Ailment. This shoudn’t be objectionable. Maybe some of the rioters had Islamic establishmentarian politics or excessive lust for the local wenches. So? That wasn’t why they were out. They were out because they were sick of the fucking cops.

It’s the same thing with the Yellow Vests. Many in the bourgeois center-left are uncomfortable with the rude mass mobilization of center-right car culture normies over gas taxes. Personally, I dislike the premise of their stance, but let’s be real. Their grievances are legitimate. The French government really has been hosing them for living outside the big cities. They aren’t out objecting to proposals for improved bus or train service; one of their bitter complaints is that the only decent transit service is in Paris and a few other cities where they couldn’t afford to live. Their complaint is that instead of services, they get fees. The complaints of the Not Exactly Much who are Not Exactly Dutch were based in decades-old grievances about the government taking advantage of them and sending cops after them to keep them in line. Either or both of these factions could easily find common cause with any number of garden-variety elements of the European hard left.

Huh. The G-7 or G-20 or G-6 or whatever they’re calling it these days surely isn’t directing any of its security services to diffuse any such social synergies at the first sign. They would never do that. Even Mr. Grayling, the smart one, has but three eyes. This, strategia della tensione, do you call it? It’s delicious. The closest thing we have to it on Mars is probably a clam linguine of some sort, but you do realize, we must import our ingredients.

The Democratic base doesn’t care for any such alliances anyway. Their beloved Intelligence Community never sanctons anything of the sort. It’s too Trumpian, poaching a fraction of the hardhats because the rest of the field has absolutely no industrial policy, not just a half-cocked one with no details beyond Reopen Our Beautiful Mines. Protests getting out of hand might alienate swing voters, causing the retention of an incumbent whose idea of policing is maybe, or maybe not, somewhat worse than that of the hand-picked dirty cops forced through the nomination process to oppose him. I’ve personally heard this kind of thing. Protesting too raucously just because the thugs on the Buffalo riot squad audibly cracked Martin Gugino’s skull open in a live-televised pavement check might cost Biden the support of swing voters who, uh, must think that’s an acceptable thing for the police to do and also consider not voting for Republicans, this in a country whose national consensus for a time was that the Third Precinct Stationhouse was no angel.

This idea that we can and should just vote our way out of whatever the government is doing to us is a funny one. It’s come to be closely associated with the Blue No Matter Who freakshow. There’s no need to convince me that there are Republicans who are better than Lori Lightfoot and Eric Garcetti. These bars are low. The Republicans who carry on about this high civic Boy Scout Handbook piety are mostly #NeverTrump rear-guard losers. John Bolton proudly enjoys waiting in line at his polling place to cast his ballot. He says it like a guy who never has to wait in line for anything else.

There are officials who understand languages other than raw power. The problem is with those who don’t, for example, in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Denver, Aurora, Ferguson, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Chicago, Austin, Louisvlle, Atlanta, Washington, and Philadelphia. One of these cities after another is governed by Democrats. To fix this mess with Democrats, we’d have to find different Democrats. But that would upset swing voters or moderates or developers or something.

When the prissy booj object to unauthorized protests or riots, they do so on account of at least two obvious blind spots. One is an intense discomfort, even humiliation, before unmistakable proof of the rottenness of their governments and officials. “Joe Biden is a decent guy at heart.” This should be a deeply embarrassing thing to say. Ironically, the other obvious reason for their prissiness is much less embarrassing and cringe precisely because it’s so nakedly, crassly self-interested. They’re big on Marquess of Queensberry Schoolhouse Rock bullshit, and so furious with the Donald for shitting on the floor at their neverending party of politics, because it works for them. For them, it delivers the goods. It’s no coincidence that Rachel Maddow is so popular with people who own their primary residences free and clear.

Why wouldn’t electoral politics work? We own a house. We have home equity. Yeah, champ, that’s the problem. It’s a Ponzi scheme, a gigantic pump-and-dump racket. It’s the most blatantly zero-sum rentier shakedown. Go ask “liberals” in Redwood City or Novato how they feel about Project Roomkey motel contracts.

It hits different when the system doesn’t give you shit. I’m relatively fortunate, as the dispossessed go, but it isn’t the least bit lost on me that I’m fortunate largely by proxy, through my parents. This is just how Obama and Congress wanted it. The adult dependent provision of the ACA was no goof. They knew what they were doing.

On some level, that is. Some of them are stone-cold naturals and also blithering fucking idiots. There’s an alarming amount of reptilian quasi-thinking inside the Beltway, on the part of people who know exactly what works to keep the whole ship listing along just seaworthily enough to keep them employed but unable to articulate a coherent political theory for why the hell that is. Yeah, you’re all making work for yourselves and your marginally employable cronies designing and administering a system that would start actually working if the lot of you were banished to the cane fields. No, to public assistance; I respect people who cut sugarcane too much to inflict useless eaters on them.

These are people who will do nothing good until they are made to feel pain. Mind you, their pain thresholds are hilariously low, e.g., not being reelected, or being told off at restaurants for their atrocious “public service.” They rarely get the pain they deserve. Bolton the Baltimore Walrus is probably less miserable than he looks. Remember, he’s a psychopath, not a normal person. People like him spend their time whining about, say, how total strangers are spoiling their Voting Experience by demanding and returning absentee ballots because that’s the closest thing they face to hardship. Trump is yelling again? Hey, pal, nobody’s making you watch that or professional wrestling or whatever other trashy programming would upset you.

In the context of the extreme hardship, pain, and early death the ghouls in charge of our governments inflict on their constituents, shutting down a freeway or an airport or a railyard with a protest occupation would be downright genteel. Considering the alternatives, which so many already suffer, there’s nothing wrong with some light rioting now and then.

This may sound like armchair edgelord agitation, and I guess it is. I’m too cowardly to take part in any of these festivities in person. Is a virtual riot a thing? A socially distanced riot?

That isn’t any more pathetic than the language and tactics our officials actually use in their desperate efforts to co-opt protest movements. The displays of this deranged, arguably psychotic thought process were on embarrassing display last summer, during the Black Lives Matter protests, with officials giving express dispensation to protesters but only protesters to gather in large groups. But they weren’t mouthing their platitudes about peaceful, responsible protest because they supported the protests. They pulled that shit because they were afraid of the movement. The last thing they want is the rabble they represent compelling their representation.

They wanted everybody milling about on the square downtown, during daylight and only daylight hours, kneeling with the chief and the brass. They wanted the protesters to feel emotionally invested with the cops who would beat and gas their comrades later that night. They wanted the protesters to think of their obvious adversaries–you know, the ones whose brother in arms provoked that round of protests in the first place by choking George Floyd to death with his knee–as allies.

The psychology behind the kneeling ceremonies is troubling. It’s baffling to honor a martyr to police murder by joining cops in a ceremonial reenactment of his murderer’s physical stance. I’m not sure that’s what the cops or the elected officials theoretcally (at times even de facto) commanding them were thinking, though. I hesitate to assume that they WERE thinking. I’m sure they remembered kneeling for the National Anthem as the Kaepernick Thing. Every police department is always downstream of every other police department’s worst cultural touchstones, so once one agency got the idea, others had to follow. An agency can’t just ignore the cool new cop thing.

The Floyd protests caught officials off-guard. They were a holy shit moment. What, we can’t just let a cop choke a guy to death anymore? Chauvin can’t get away with it just because Pantaleo did? Oh. The public reaction was a consequence of too little work and too much TV, some said. We were supposed to Netflix and Chill through “lockdown,” not CNN and Heat Up. Officials came up with the protest safety protocols and the civic justifications for them on the fly. I don’t think they were trying to subjugate the family by sanctioning protests but not funerals, or the religious by sanctioning protests but not services. They were cobbling their shit together on the fly. In many cases, it took their cops a single night to prove their own contempt for the public health protocols they’d been commissioned to enforce, when they gassed whole neighborhoods or even pulled protesters’ masks down to blast them in the face with pepper spray from a foot away. Was it a good idea, from a public health perspective, to further overload the jails with protesters there was little or no ground to arrest in the first place? Of course not. That’s why the cops did it.

****

There were protests against “lockdown,” too, but no good Brahmin dared support them. Besides, many of them were the work of antisocial extremists. Wine moms barging into Trader Joe’s to yell at the nearest cart jockeys about their right to shop unmolested and undressed had as much to do with civil liberties as shitting on the floor at Tim Hortons. That’s a style of protest, too. Like any protest, it loses its magic when they mayor issues a permit and guidelines.

Few jurisdictions in the United States had genuine lockdowns. Most Americans were never ordered or even advised to go into real quarantine. Otherwise, “quarantine” and “lockdown” were misleading synonyms for a raft of very poorly drafted and explained shelter-in-place orders, i.e., the usual horny-for-rules nerds, hypochondriacs, avoidants, paranoiacs, and other poorly adjusted characters cowering behind closed doors in obedience of the fnords. We were allowed out of the house, mostly. It was just that we weren’t sure we were. The way we (“we”) were using publc health language was shockingly hyperbolic. Describing a work-from-home lifestyle revolving around ordering in from restaurants and fleeing to the Hamptons on impulse as “lockdown” or “quarantine” was a bit like referring to incoherent assault threats from a schizophrenic across the street as Manzanar.

A huge number of Americans bobbed through these extreme but exaggerated disruptions of public life in a state of chronic psychological trauma. This was the case in a number of European countries, too. The pot-banging and clapping ceremonies at shift change by the hospitals, the balcony singalongs, all the talk about “cottagecore” and what “we” were doing to get through “lockdown” and “quarantine,” and the rest of the cult shit drove a whole lot of people truly mad. In ways, it would have been better if it had made more people go openly crazy, instead of the chronic, low-grade zombie reactions that were most common and obvious. The combination of gross linguistic exaggerations and muted, avoidant behavioral patterns was bizarre and unsettling. Then there was all the deranged make-believe shit: “virtual happy hour,” “Zoom reunion,” Sober Scotch Hour with Rob Ford, etc.

The distortions of language seem deliberate. It’s easy for trendsetters–influencers–to propagate linguistic tics by example and repetition. Some of the antics to emerge during the pandemic were just fucking suspect. No way in hell would nurses working with hypercontagious ICU patients during a respiratory pandemic have the time, energy, or, ideally, the bad judgment to stage linedancing routines in the hallways.

We were being gaslit. This wasn’t a case of I’m myself and you are too. This shit really was used to attack all of us. What really happened to Tiffany Dover? Beats me, but I know I don’t have as much trust in the caliber of management that runs hospital nursing pools as I did before these weird-ass fainting and dancing spells, and I had little trust in the first place.

What the fuck are we supposed to think of Anthony Fauci, if we really think about him? Eyy, I make-a da spikey protein! Well? That wasn’t as cringe as the poem Scott Simon read about him, and it wasn’t dishonest. Fauci was the guy who fucked up the response to AIDS for Ronald Reagan. There’s something really off about his combative turned amicable relationship with Larry Kramer. He’s a sworn liar. Let’s play around with the herd immunity threshold. Let’s focus-group that shit to see what it takes to get everybody to take the new mRNA vaccines, which are going to save everybody’s life because oops there’s a new variant they don’t seem to cover.

No shit ordinary people will react to this bullshit and dissembling and lying and manipulation by veering into woo-woo.

I don’t believe a word of Fauci’s internal e-mail admitting that masks don’t work. It’s common sense not to want random strangers breathing and coughing and sneezing whatever the hell they’ve got in their lungs all over me. It’s common courtesy of me not to pass it forward if they wheeze their skanky shit on me. #Values #PassDaKine.

For others, it’s common sense that masks cause extreme carbon dioxide buildups, don’t work, traumatize children, ad nauseam. I just try to set the example that they’re a viable, perfectly bearable way to maybe keep myself and those around me healthier than we’d otherwise be. For Tony, Joe, Rachel, and the gang, they’re some kind of marshmallow test hazing ritual or something. Covid-19 is not the only virulent pathogen whose transmission masks can inhibit. Setting aside all the weirdness surrounding the vaccines and assuming they all work as advertised, Covid-19 vaccines do not prevent the contraction of transmission of influenzas.

This shit isn’t about public health. It’s about ritual purity versus impurity. It’s about piety versus impiety, obedience versus disobedience. What were my sources for hesitating to get the vaccine? Not that honking Italian son of a bitch. I’ll say that much. Crowning a serial liar with a long history of bad research decisions, notably including gain-of-function projects that alarmed many of his colleagues, as the world king of infectious disease makes many highly reasonable people want to do their own fucking research before doing anything he advises. That asshole reacted to the cruise ship disasters in Yokohama and Sydney by berating Americans not to cancel their cruise reservations.

Maybe he’s wrong about masks after all. If he isn’t, he was.

You read that right. I can’t believe I had to write it. I can’t believe it makes sense.

****

Anybody from the nominally educated centrist to center-left top quartile or so of American society faces intense pressure not to question this narrative. They have jobs on the line, or places to stay, or assistance from wealthier relatives. This does much to explain why there has been so little pushback on the public health narrative from the left and so much from the right. We face the same pressures for saying anything neutral or positive or nuanced about Trump, here in Bougiekistan.

I reacted differently. The moment I heard official lies and discrepancies, I took them as existential threats. I wouldn’t trust anybody I witnessed behaving so dishonestly and recklessly in a bad part of Rancho Cordova, either. Nobody gets between me and my survival mechanisms. I don’t allow it. I’m not taking medical orders from homicidal serial liars.

My hypervigilance immediately cued me in to the big drivers of infection. I took the initiative to stop going to Mass a week before the last one indoors. For months after outdoor Masses resumed, I not only wore a mask (as strictly mandated and universally followed) but also stayed silent during the communal prayers. I remembered the horror stories from that Lutheran choir in the North Sound.

But churches were obviously only a middling vector. The American authorities put their thumbs up their asses and basically did nothng while infections spread like wildfire through prisons, nursing homes, farmworker shacks, slaughterhouses, and every other 100% predictably ultra-high-risk congregate setting that had been in dire need of regulatory enforcement for decades over extreme threats to human health and life. Like, come on, you can’t seriously be telling me the bus downtown is too dangerous for me to take just for the hell of it but San Quentin is safe for occupancy. That’s insane.

The same state government that presided over a catastrophic outbreak in San Quentin couldn’t guarantee a seat on the next bus to Santa Rosa because Golden Gate Transit was enforcing a strict 20% capacity limit. Yeah, that’s something they’ve always cared about at CDCR, percent of capacity.

The anecdotes to similar effects are endless. Our lives were upended for over a year, for reasons that have yet to be credibly explained, with mediocre public health outcomes.

This is the case in Europe, too, as we’ve discussed above. Mark Rutte had riots on his hands because he insisted on imposing the same heavyhanded, statistically ineffective measures that had fucked up life in several other esteemed members of the European Union. It was odder for him to make the decision than the heads of government he copied. Rutte is reasonably down-to-earth for a politician. He lacks the theatrics of Italy’s rotating cast of premiers (which frankly should have kept rotating over the past year), the grand narcissism of Emmanuel Macron, the seedy corruption of Spain’s elected officials and minor royalty, or the raucous buffoonery of BoJo and his cabinet.

He still decided that he had to deploy cops at bedtime, in the interest of stopping Covid. The way these fuckers think, I swear, is that they won’t be able to spot the virus on patrol at night because it’s too dark. They’re morons and busybodies. Will people slip into one another’s houses without government permission because they want to smoke dope or have sex? Sure. They’ll also need to leave for work during curfew hours.

Cops are too fucking dull to tell the difference. I’m serious. Ordering them to enforce curfews only makes them dumber.

Riots, by contrast, sharpen their intellects a tiny bit. Riots send a message: you aren’t in control just because you say you are; you’re our public servants, not our babysitters; we set our own bedtimes.

One of the neat things about the Rotterdam curfew riots is that they were explicitly about the curfew. American liberals and leftists felt compelled to sublimate their disaffection with the business closures and constant warnings and lectures and channel it into anger over police murders of black constituents. They had to pretend that they were exercising the one specific dispensation they had as good kids and good liberals to leave the house and freely associate with their neighbors.

They had to pretend that Anthony Fauci isn’t a cop.

He’s a fucking cop. He isn’t even the kind of cop who’ll defuse a street fight or talk down the disturbed or give a stranded motorist a roadside jump. He’s an asshole who lectures and threatens and lies to the general public for a living. He gets paid to goad us to act as scolds and stool pigeons while the government employing him stands back in the face of millions of preventable deaths. Yeah, I know, we don’t care about deaths that aren’t from Covid. He’s what would happen if Joseph DeAngelo kept the anthrax next to the roast.

We could have had Sacco and Vanzetti integrate the police instead.

God help us if they ever force Carol off the media

Dammit, Douglas, you incorrigible Maritime heartthrob, I may sound too hypomanic not to get Hortons on mane, but this time the pride is again th’ American Side’s, as it happens. Radio so bad, Big Ears Teddy will turn himself back around and refuse not to “bear” witness.

Have I used that one before? It’s about time in any event. The big news this time for us public radio trainspotters, as Colby Cosh calls us, pertains to On The Media, a program on the media. They sure as hell weren’t gonna call it On The Bala Cynwyd, am I right, Garf. #ThatWasBad #DudeItsRude. It turns out that that urbane Main Line dean of reporters was a toxic asshole who liked to throw bullying tantrums around the office and failing to abide by HR’s demands that he behave himself. Justice in his case was not particularly swift, but it was dramatic. Bob’s permanently away this week. I’m Brooke, and I’m glad about it.

That was also bad. It shouldn’t be a terrible surprise to hear that Garfield’s personality fell short of his persona. These are actors. If you find Buddha on the road, kill him. If you find Michael State on Facebook, repost parish hall normcore. My ex thinks he sounds like a slut and Beth Huizenga is out of her goddamn mind.

Whatever. As much as they’re anything, they’re entertainers. We invite them into our homes and cars and workout headsets and mind. We fancy them friends, buddy. Good guys. They work in a dynamic business, working urgently to balance the unbalanced on the fly on strict deadlines. It should be no surprise that more than a few of them are unbalanced themselves. They’re theater kids.

Excuse me: theatre kids.

The worst of these actors take advantage of the high pressure, high stakes, and tight deadlines to justify behaving however the hell they want. In Jian Ghomeshi’s case, this meant not just choking women but berating his production staff to pull everything together while he went incommunicado on deadline because he was having a mood. It’s a miracle Q was ever ready by airtime.

You have to have thick skin to hack it in the business. Jian Ghomeshi has exceptionally thin skin. What they really mean is you have to have thick skin to work around Jian Ghomeshi. Honestly, I sometimes wonder if he’s even happy with himself, no matter how inexcusable it was for him to take his disappointments and upsets out on staff and threaten to get colleagues blacklisted for saying anything bad about him, e.g., his renown for choking a bitch.

Radio is no place for a sensitive little crybaby, the Bob Garfields of the world like to say. They say the same thing about running a restaurant, working in an operating room, and every sleazy sort of sales work. Complaints about political correctness and oversensitivity consistently come from or on behalf of the most hypersensitive, emotionally incontinent outburst artists in whatever business is under discussion.

It’s always about maintaining the existing power dynamics. First they came for Bob Garfield, and I said nothing, because Bob Garfield had contractual employment protections and guild representation the likes of which I never expect to enjoy. An ordinary line employee would be fired on the spot for pulling that shit, assuredly so for doing anything of the sort to a supervisor. It’s only certain people who enjoy the latitude to throw bullying fits around the office. To WNYC’s credit, it lost its patience with Garfield for persisting in screaming at colleagues and subordinates over editorial differences and has previously released hosts as prominent as John Hockenberry for being sex pests. To its discredit, it seems to have quite a few problem personalities. As we say online, you truly hate to see Tanzina Vega on the HR list.

Living vicarious professional lives through the personnel disputes of media bigshots is pathetic. They’re nothing like us. Theirs is a different, separate, alien world. Lead characters in all media are infamously prone to be divas. This doesn’t make their behavior acceptable. If Bob Garfield’s behavior was as chronically problematic as WNYC’s outside auditor found, he needed some time away from the studio to chill the hell out. Terminating him outright was a reasonable decision when he’d already been formally warned to keep his temper in check.

“Cancel culture” is a red herring. The much bigger threat to the occupational viability of ordinary Americans is the combination of merciless at-will employment; intrusive, abusive employers; and the strategic absence of government job guarantees or even the faintest glimmer of full employment policies. It isn’t Bob Garfield getting shitcanned for having an unacceptable anger management problem at work and having to go on Twitter and Substack to complain about it, still a public citizen. It isn’t Don Imus getting axed not to talk about “nappy-headed hoes,” or rather, for talking about “nappy-headed hoes.”

It was some kind of foul feelings towards a team of lady ballers, I recall. To paraphrase the Ghetto-Ass Bitches of 103rd Street, their hair always gone BE nappy. The people who make the hiring and firing decisions in these cases don’t spend much time on the Blue Line, but that’s beside the point. Imus upset and scandalized the advertisers. He knew he was pushing the envelope by being racially edgy on air. They heard that tirade and decided they’d had enough.

Some of these characters are Greekly tragic. Garfield sounds more like a garden-variety bully who elected to dispense with self-control around the office, a man with an awful temperament but a sincere love of journalism and interest in its cultural context. Rush Limbaugh was something else entirely, a bitter old man who had every creature comfort and still bitterly fumed about random strangers being cheats or freeloaders or loafers because the bitterness and the fuming made him ever richer and more popular. As a young man, Rush wanted to do baseball radio; he was passionate about it and impressed people with his encyclopedic knowledge of it. The problem with this career is that it would have left him doing the yeoman’s work for yeoman’s pay in some local or regional market. The money was in being an angry reactionary who always sounded and looked ready to drop dead of a heart attack.

Wow Much rosebud Such sad. I can’t imagine having a platform of that topical latitude and not using it to reach out to loved ones I’ve lost and miss, to say good things about them in terms vague but recognizable to them and the real heads who know them, much as I sometimes do here with an audience of several of you, give or entirely take. I’m still dealing with a fresh breakup, but I might still be hella emo about this shit in more placid, less troubling personal times, with a somewhat more normal emotional and spiritual life. I truly don’t get why people like Limbaugh don’t pivot back to baseball once they’ve gotten some fuck-you money, just open up a free-for-all call-in about the Cardinals or whatever because the audience is already there and will gladly follow them to other platforms in the event of programming disputes.

Commercial radio is a collection of cesspools different from NPR’s. The lowest common denominators Rush Limbaugh exploited included the desire to rape. Guys who would have tested the waters more carefully in their local bars found, if we may, a safe space on his show and other syndicated garbage heaps of that sort to fume about how women were asking for it. Most of the commentary was sublimated enough to keep the advertisers from flipping their shit, but it was about rape. Imus’s comment about the basketball team touched on the ugly, arguably epigenetic American history of racialized rape, maybe only subconsciously, but it was a real factor.

Their target demographic is the same one that expresses its disgruntlement that the broads these days need to lighten up, toughen up, and just deal with a little light touch and talk around the office. The reasons to try to do better than that are obvious and compelling, and they aren’t all liberal in nature, either. In some sense or other, they’re all fundamentally conservative; the point is to try to set and hold a working sexual ethic that keeps the dumbest, worst elements in the workplace from using it to distract all and distress many by being uncontrollably horny all the time. As I’ve said before, Hillz is the conservative on this shit and the Donald the liberal. America is still not ready to have this conversation, but nevertheless, she persisted–in this analogy, I’m not with her, but personally her–to #GetTalking.

*George Nori Voice* Dominic, from Windsor, California, on the Wildcard Line. Go ahead.

The aliens consented.

They consented to what?

The aliens all consented.

Are you saying you consented to their sexual advances?

They consented.

[Sagest Dril Voice] Butt they care not,, too “Fap Only.” *Seinfeld electronica scene break*

Am I right fellas, etc., all that. That’s a big swath of who listens to that garbage, and a bigger chunk of the disposable income the advertisers covet: winery scions who can damn well afford to hire hookers but instead go into politics to rape their fellow elected officials. More than a few listeners are the doers of Denny Dundiddy deals; as fewer point out than care to hear, the loudest on any given seedy or perverted thing having to do with sex tend to be the worst about it themselves.

But now goodness, Sgt. Karsnia, I thought the acoustics in that restroom were just fine!

Yeah, I’m flying, too, on the night shift (on the night shift). Seriously, though, this combination of sexual repression and abuse is a significant reason why so many people are reluctant to engage in the workforce. Expanded to include other forms of abuse intersecting with sexual abuse, it’s a main reason. Decades of unrelenting propaganda about how it’s good to be abused at work–The Office, The Apprentice, Uber as hustle culture–have somewhat backfired. Work? Ah, yeah, work, that’s where you go to get annoyed by morons and treated like shit by assholes for poverty wages and then fired for displeasing one of them.

The whole edifice is shakier than it’s made out to be. Office normcore as a dipshit cover for abusive scheduling practices may be stable. Offfice normcore as a cover for sexual harassment of subordinates is metastable at most. That’s the kind of shit that has male loved ones cleaning their guns. The academic and affluent nature of activism against campus rape pisses off Walt Kowalski wannabes who call in to talk shows to bitch about how everybody’s so goddamn soft these days. It’s much less objectionable to people in the same towns–conservative, liberal, left, whatever–who are sick of getting groped by scumbag customers and shift managers at Applebee’s for a summarily recovable pittance, or who are furious that their sisters, wives, or daughters are being mistreated in that fashion. Company men were allowed to abuse longshormen’s daughters as a hiring condition until they weren’t. It had to do with their discovery that getting beaten to shit for trying to have their way was a credible promise, not an idle threat.

Bob Garfield ain’t got shit on that crew. He’d be on the mild side among franchisee sex pests. The Grey Lady accuses him of using “a barnyard epithet.” I’m not exactly fascinated, but bullshit, I guess? He’s mainly nursing a bruised ego from getting canned from a job where he sounded rather miserable anyway. It’s a useful object lesson in not being able to get away with that shit just for being prominent and playing the urbane WASP Jew on the radio. I didn’t even give a shit when I discovered he’s actually a Jew. He’s not exactly fun like Psychotarp or Pot-o-Shit Friend or Steph, in case the first two are having trouble with their sisters. #TooSoon. All he did was clean up from his disinhibited fits and emo moping in time to do the gentleman-scholar thing on NPR every week, or more recently every two or three weeks, depending on when Brooke Gladstone was hosting in his stead, stoically but now audibly quite the frosty Jewess herself.

Jewish conspiracy? I know, enough about NPR, but those two could barely conspire to put out a fucking radio show. As the old Brooklyn proverb warns, Christ, Mort, are you enough of a putz to believe a pile of crap like that?

As much as it must sting to be fired, Garfield picked a good country for his termination. He might be shocked to discover what happens to the easily upset when they get agitated in Canada under the name of Robert.

Protest peacefully! Express your frustration, but please not your anger! Wear your masks! Get a permit! Be home by bedtime! Stay off the freeway!

Minnesota is getting riot season going early this year, huh. No, ja, Pekka, don’tcha know, da colored folks aren’t too happy abaout naouw. And ya thought da ethnic trouble was bad enough between your kind and the high-class krauts!

Gee, one wonders why. The same secondary megalopolis where a beat cop is on trial for murdering a black man over a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill just had another beat cop shoot another black man to death because he was driving on an expired car registration with an air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror and an active arrest warrant. The police woman in the latest case mistakenly drew her taser, according to her chief. Did any of them learn anything from Johannes Mehserle? If so, what?

The authorities didn’t give their dispensation and blessing for the Black Lives Matter protests last year just to gaslight their constituents. It was whatthefuckular, for sure, having mayors and governors and health officials give their constituents an extraordinary hall pass in the thick of nearly universal orders to shelter in place, but for real, that’s what they always fucking do. The only difference that time was the ongoing outbreak of a virulent respiratory contagion. The provenance of and official reactions to the Dread Ailment have been questionable, to say the least, but most reasonable Americans knew better to taxi the nightclub circuit mutually freebreathing on total strangers all night under the circumstances.

This raises a question: Is there a difference between mixing unmasked with strangers indoors in a probably futile effort to bone one of them and mixing outdoors, mostly masked, in street demonstrations pushing back on the police for asserting their prerogative to strangle citizens to death at will? Geez, Ole, I know some a ya are priddy dense, but da ya fucken think?

The civil authorities knew they had an uprising on their hands. Dr. King’s beloved white moderates love to blame the upset on people staying home, being out of work, and watching too much TV, which, goodness, I can’t imagine there were any official incentives or demands or ubiquitous fnords encouraging such idleness, and it’s conceivable that unusual, unexpected free time makes it easier for the public to follow national news of, say, two Buffalo riot cops cracking an old activist’s skull open in front of local news crews for calmly walking up to their formation with a peace offering and the entire riot squad resigning when their colleagues faced criticism and minimal professional discipline for committing an aggravated battery that National Guardsmen in formation behind them narrowly prevented from turning into voluntary manslaughter by being the first ones with the decency to provide first aid and call an ambulance. Maybe these are policing practices that ought to have captured closer attention from more Americans in their earlier, sometimes less violent manifestations, back when we theoretically all had work. Yes: Buffalo riot police did nearly murder an old man for approaching them in a spirit of serenity and peace; yes, the Denver Police did shoot out a man’s eye in an attack that was either the result of terrible trigger discipline with riot control weapons or, all too likely, a reprisal attack on a random civilian for breaking a curfew on his way back from work; yes, Salt Lake City cops did shove a barely ambulatory old man to the ground for being in their way on the periphery of a protest; yes, the security services brutalized Christopher David when he calmly approached them to ask them if they gave a damn about their oaths of office; yes, riot police in Walnut Creek and San Diego made explicit murder threats over loudspeakers; yes, a Houston cop deliberately trampled a woman with his horse; yes, Pennsylvania State Police kettled and pepper-sprayed protesters on an embankment for briefly occupying the Vine Street Expressway, in the same city where Joey Baloney beat the shit out of protesters just because he was pissed off and felt like serving America a spicy wooder ice.

It was truly the Spirit of 76, American cops going hardcore Redcoat on their own constituents for challenging their samurai privilege to whack anyone who disobeys their arbitrary, contradictory orders, gives them mouth, or in any other petty way displeases them. It’s hard to believe, for example, that Bill DeBlasio has the NYPD under his civilian control. Likewise Lori Lightfoot, Ted Wheeler, and possibly the grandiose, Ceausescuan Eric Garcetti, although that sociopathic creep looks like he quite enjoys the classic folkways of the LAPD.

The United States turned out to be full of derelict, plausibly blackmailed or threatened with assassination, who would not or could not control their own cops. The whole country was suddenly suffering from a bad case of pigs mad.

As always, these shitheads did their thing. They tried to coopt the protests. They, those elected to answer petitions from the public, told the public how to petition. We admire your passion. We welcome your peaceful protests. We want you to make your voices heard. No, you are not allowed to riot. No, you are not allowed to loot. No, you are not allowed to be on the streets after dark. It’s bedtime, serf. Return to quarters at once.

That’s why they expressed their approval of protests. That’s why they declared protests an essential activity. They wanted to assemble a controlled opposition to divert and diffuse the public’s raw leverage: same shit as ever, just this time with a respiratory pandemic on the loose, as constantly reiterated through lecture series, human interest trend pieces, and fnordforce deployments.

What these morons figured was that if the protesters validated their permission to assemble for the narrow purpose of telling them to control their goddamn cops, they’d be in for a penny, in for a pound in the face of their every other overbearing diktat. That’s what they expect their constituents to do in the midst of escalating stochastic police attacks. They expect scared, angry constituents to subordinate their own anger to the feelings of Jacob Frey.

Yeah, that’ll fucking happen. “We know you’re scaed and upset–” Yeah, no shit, boss. You gonna do something about it, or do we have to shut down the freeways? Oh, YOU’RE the one who’s deciding to barricade freeway exits, raise the drawbridges, and retreat into your home behind multiple lines of riot cops, like a mad queen? Get fucked, bitch.

“Rioting and looting won’t accomplish anything. Please, express your anger, but–” Oh. Is that so? It immediately gets officials’ panties into a twist. It makes them visibly uncomfortable. It throws them off balance. Is that nothing?

Huh. Maybe these horny-for-rules scolds and the paranoid propertied constituents they always prioritize over anyone vulnerable don’t want to face genuine, credible pressure from their inferiors. Maybe they don’t like actual leverage from below. It sure seems like they get hella squirmy whenever they’re cornered. They sure seem to hear but not listen. It’s the same problem their cops have with private citizens. It’s exactly the objection the same elected officials have to direct actions that violate their instructions. Oh no, they strayed off the parade route!

The peasants are coloring outside the lines. Ousside, but such a long wait for the government cash. How bow dah. Let’s give the LAPD three billion this year, though.

We’re all bad babies indeed. We’re so insolent. They tell us how to express our feelings, and we insist on expressing them as we see fit. We just won’t listen. The subject can have a little peaceful protest, as a treat, but just a little.

It’s striking. Officials who never do shit to bring grocery stores into food deserts or public services in general into the ghettos suddenly go on edge whenever a mob smashes the windows at the Speeday, overturns the hot dog rollers, and for some reason leaves most of the pastries in place–in fairness, Kajieme Powell didn’t much care for them, either, it seems–because a cop just murdered one of their neighbors during a traffic stop and the chief described it as a tragic accident. Our upset public officials, the same ones who refuse to disciplne their police forces and instead deploy them like occupying armies whenever there’s an outburst of unrest over an act of violence on the part of their colleagues, insist that rioting and looting, the same direct actions that so palpably unnerve them, are senseless and useless.

As Melissa Ann Shepard always said, oh, come on, sweetie, you don’t have to step out on me and get your coffee in the breakfast line when I’ve already made us a pot. They don’t actually want us petitioning for the redress of our grievances. They don’t want their constituents getting so uppity. It’s inconvenient. It’s disruptive. If it doesn’t stop, it will force them to do something about their rotten, violent, seditious cops. Their sermons about the proper, effective way to protest are a pile of bullshit, and by now the people they claim to represent know it.

*Most civic Roger Schafer midnight munchies voice* I didn’t do shit to the Speedway! I was cutting food costs!

Title IX Sports

It’s welcome to see two preeminently disreputable American institutions belatedly get discredited in the midst of the Rona. I refer, of course, to college and NPR.

In NPR’s case, the discrediting is a result of enough Americans listening to enough NPR to realize that it’s too rotten to deserve their financial support until it loses Amazon’s, Google’s, and that of every other multinational corporation whose sponsorship its reporters end up disclosing several times a day. The target audience has more disposable income than it did before the shutdowns, not less, but work-from-home means listen-from-home, and they’re listening too closely to pay up on demand. KQED shouldn’t need to nag its audience for over a week for a million and a half or three million or whatever half-assed house money it claimed to need badly enough to preempt Michael Krasny less than a month before his retirement. These are gross signs, but they’re good signs.

In the case of college, it’s that there isn’t any. In the nominally good times preceding those we enjoy today, the American undergraduate academy overpromised and underdelivered to a vile extent. With “classes” and “activities” now virtual, its delivery of the socially and sexually catalytic effects it promises its students is nil. A handful of campuses have more or less successfully reopened, usually with extraordinary screening and surveillance regimes. A larger group have reopened haphazardly and disastrously, e.g., making the news for quaranting students in dormitories without food deliveries. Most have remained closed. Setting aside the questionable academic and intellectual objectives of these hallowed institutions, they’ve entirely lost their usefulness as places to party, hang out, and get laid. These are not the only extracurricular forms of social enrichment our colleges are now denying their students, either, but they’re some of the more important, and they’re gone. They’re no longer fully delivered to a minority of students and partially delivered to the rest or anything of that nature. We’re doing everything over the computer now.

Ah, yes, that’s what the visionaries of the early Obama years called a MOOC. Instead of paying administrative rentiers outrageous sums to be dead weight on academic programs under their authority, we could all go online for the Great Courses on tape with a streaming video component. Surely this was in no way a coping mechanism in the face of a fourth-turning economic crash, of course.

Oh. We still have to pay full tuition? Huh-uh. Get fucked.

As I’ve bitterly spilled pixels by the millions arguing, undergraduate education in the United States has been crying out for a teardown overhaul for decades. It went into the pandemic all but unreformable. Anything to break its leverage over its “communities” is welcome. It’s serendipitous for applications and enrollment to finally decline in earnest because institutions that have been shaking the country down for two generations are showing their whole ass by continuing to ask for money. Until last year they offered brick-and-mortar programming that was to some degree or other worthwhile. All they’re offering now are series of videoconferences.

Colleges and their boosters complain that they still face the same fixed costs as ever, plus some. Okay, but why the fuck is that a concern for the general public? Pay me to worry about that shit and I’ll start worrying about it. Yes, I mean this literally. Pay me the fuck up already. Pay up or shut up. Full-freight Zoom school is like Qantas charging full Transpacific first class fares for streaming rights to a collection of YouTube videos of Longreach. This idea that random private citizens have a duty to worry about the solvency of recently profitable corporations because they’ve hit a few rough quarters is completely fucking outrageous. American colleges are manifestly for-profit institutions. If they were actually bona fide nonprofits they would not pay prized administrators multiples of their usual and customary salaries for senior tenured faculty.

Most of these schools, sob stories about hard times and all, are nonprofits the same way the Brands magically shift shape from Irish to Dutch to Liberian to Wilmingtonian, Delaware written on my heart because I’m an unhinged old lawyer who shouts fighting words at factory workers in an authentic blue-collar way. They’re as fraudulent as the home country we share. There have been reports in sober, rigorous media that many American colleges and universities are in trouble because they’re facing capital calls on their endowment assets. Uh, yo, how did that happen? Isn’t that shit supposed to be, like, professionally managed? How did it end up sounding like collateral for investment on margin? Excuse me, but I’m less interested than ever in donating to any institution whose peers are reported to be doing that.

The ethical standards governing these organizations are fictional. It’s impossible for bad actors to get banished from accreditation. If the accrediting bodies enforced ethical standards, the American academy would turn into the Pitcairn Islands of institutional fraud. No, I’m not saying they aren’t full of predatory sexual deviants, too.

Charts showing the relative sizes of the total faculty and administrative workforces over time are amazing. The faculty grows very slowly and modestly while the administrative apparatus balloons. Ironically, university faculty bodies are historically autonomous, going back into Medieval Europe. Our professors are effectively bossed around by their own clerks. If our colleges were in fact academic universities, their faculties would elect provosts, the provosts would appoint administrative aides as necessary to shoulder the workload, and the aides would remain subordinate on pain of termination. It wouldn’t matter what the fuck they decided to call the provost: president, chancellor, superintendent, whatever. The point is, a credibly academic institution would be governed by academics for academic purposes. Larry Nassar would be possible; Jim Jordan and Dennis Hastert would not.

Do we still wonder why they’re called “Greek Organizations?” Yes, Virginia, there is a Nebraska Coed. In fact, there are many. No, they are not the worst Nebraskans. Come out. Don’t make me wait. Ben’s Ass–goodness, one would think I graduated able to spell–in any event, Mr. Ass claims to have impressed a group of coeds at his own Nebraska university into erecting a big bristly Christmas tree in full public view, to make the season festive. FreequentFlyr/IndyFinance calls this story a lie. Perhaps Mr. Ass would have dodged temptation by wrestling with these hard questions somewhere back east, among young men.

It’s fun!

To wax a bit more earnestly around the bush, athletics are probably a better grooming ground than academics. The main reason there’s such a treasury of stories about professors having midlife crisis affairs or whatever else we care to call them with students is that it’s professors who write maudlin autobiographical fiction, alternately classified as fantasy fiction or memoir. They’d find it too humiliating to write novels celebrating what Denny Dundiddly dun. Coach, for his part, is too dim to write his own story. Which coach? Does it even matter? Lawrence of the Labia was smarter than Marter, which don’t aspicca so wella Bela, but that’s about as impressive as any other barber surgeon outwitting a vulgar meathead by sneaking food into the girls he’s trying to starve. *Unsolicited Jeff Foxworthy Voice* Every month my wife sees the need to set menstruate. The Karolyis don’t need a second look to know what’s wrong with the old lady. Bitches be feedin.

Seriously, though, it’s an overwrought revenge of the nerds deal to imagine the campus sex pests as a collection of tweedy dorks with elbow patches when it’s the sports teams and fraternities that show up and pay for the joint. Nobody gives a shit about lit. Professors sometimes get involved in seedy or predatory sexual arrangements, but they’re probably underrepresented, especially at schools with big sports programs or frat scenes, and with rare exceptions they don’t have nearly the clout it takes to make allegations go away.

It’s generally safer on campus than off. The Brock Turner episode attracted so much attention in part for nasty psychosexual reasons, Blondie being the hot kind of rapist and all that, and because the media love to terrorize affluent parents for profit, but also because it was so jarring to hear about a Stanford student forcibly raping a classmate because he came across her passed out on the street in a town as fastidiously kept as Palo Alto. Nobody gives a shit when that happens on the Rez. Nobody but his mother cares enough to cry when it happens in the ghetto (in the ghetto). The Rez, the ghetto, Skid Row, the outlaw block: That’s where it happens all the time. Garrido and his sad-ass wife got popped because he took the family onto the UC Berkeley campus and made a scene in God’s name, and also in destiny’s oops lol. Nobody bothered them as long as they stayed on Pervert’s Flat.

For real. Do you want to fantasize about getting raped by that ripped young thing under the California palms–healthfully, as Wolfgang Puck would say, even robustfully? Or do you want that gnarly-ass son of a bitch doing the deed in a warren of shacks down by the waterfront, not just east of Eden but hella fucking east, and then dumping a few cans of stir-fried Hamburger Helper onto a bed of Top Ramen and calling that dinner? Ellie Clougherty complained about Joe Lonsdale making her freebleed onto NICE furniture in NICE hotels. There are handsomer gingers, and he’s a bit odd around the edges, but he dressed well and kept his woman in style. I mean, I’d rather have Summer Benton have her way with me in the abandoned apartment complex from the Who the Hell is Whitehead episode (might be the one they now have on the radio) than have that slovenly fat lady who called my aloha shirt jazzy dance up on me in the Bonneville Transit Center.

The analogy here is that I’d rather have the hot weirdo with the tighter curves get weird on my fat white ass than the normal one with the looser curves get normal on me in a facility that still has normal plumbing. Winco may have novels on this topic.

As a cradle Southern Baptist from Loudoun County turned Antiochian Orthodox convert on the philosophy faculty at Leiden always said, every analogy at some point becomes a disanalogy. *NYC Guido Voice* Eyy, in that case, how about data analogy! Nah, jus kidding pal, dis one’s all right too!

****

Rape is a criminal felony. The Brock Turner case infuriated moneyed hysterics not living near Jannie Ligons because it showed forcible rape not to be felonious enough. To judge from the uproar, the kid got away with it.

But he didn’t. He went to jail and was put on the registry. These are not lenient consequences. County jails are brutal. Sex offender registries consign registrants to functional outlaw status; that’s how the Garrido family ended up on the outlaw block, safely away from the prying eyes of the police.

Other punishments are worse. That isn’t the fucking point. A standard booking in a well-run county jail would set off the average SVU junkie into ballistic outrage. So would registry placement. They’d do exactly what Brock Turner’s lawyers did for him.

Or, as I started to write it, Brock Lawyer. We watch too goddamn much TV. There’s an old Vineland aphorism about this: “Ukh uh akha akha oomb.” Something to that effect. We deaden ourselves with that shit.

“Sex crimes get prosecuted.” No they don’t. SVU is a show about a cougar-milf who sometimes gets laid. If you try to press charges against a sexual assailant you frankly have no fucking idea what any of them will do on your behalf. It’s best to assume they’ll do jack shit. Check out patrol response times and rape kit backlogs in Detroit. You’ll have to actually look it up. Joe Bageant was right. Hologram don’t serve no dark meat. Audiences are not immediately rapt before tales of useless police forces doing nothing about the high-frequency stochastic outbursts of chaotic violence in a visibly, incontrovertably failing state. This is why there are so many shows about hot white pricks raping hot white hoes, or like, kinda sorta raping them but nobody remembers much about it, or black guys who wouldn’t quite get barred at the door from the SEPTA 61-Ridge no matter how rough they are in Division I ball.

Look. Fat Cracka, ya boy’s seen some shit. They don’t farm out the writing and casting to schizoid tweakers who hang out around Market East. SVU is a Guild job. Dominic “Denver Dago” Carisi asking about a 5150 doesn’t break frame. It’s retarded, but only the nerds notice. It’s a big jump shy of the handsomest Scotsman ever to wear a botwie in Tulsa helping the handsomest shifty kraut in a squad polo shirt and a collection of Twilight Zone homely sidekicks figure out why the permanent motel underclass beef over baggies of crank and then whack each other.

That’s some fairly honest programming in spite of its picturesque rawness. It’s also difficult to spin into parasocial narrative arcs. Just when they start looking shippable, they’re off to chase down the next crew of hopeless lowlives paying some secretly affluent midcaste Indian family doublemarket rates for everyone on the property to live in permanent squalor. It raises questions more troubling than why Benson is banging Tucker and not Amaru and by the way she’s helping the highcaste deep undercover trust fund Londoner blackmail a Homer and Langley prospect over his shoe fetish while Tucker flips the male dominatrix whose client the priest is reciprocally blackmailing Tucker’s cousin the monsignor. Inspector Lewis and–good God, speaking of funny-looking whites, Sergeant Hathaway–also investigate murderers of money, as one does in Oxfordshire. It’s always some shit with a castle and an inheritance, not wot, oy can’ affawd a boy’ o’ bread foaw me daw’ah, at’s woy oy glassed the coppa.

It’s fine to be Tommy Gilbert weird and just kind of hang out and do drugs until it’s killing time. What won’t cut it is being the kind of seaboard white who has never bought a piece of clothing costing more than ten bucks and will never move out of the crummiest weekly dump on Route 30 in the part of Absecon that doesn’t have sidewalks. That’s drugs, too. That, too, is behavioral health in the community. It still doesn’t quite work. Clean it up and drop it as a storyline now and then, maybe, but for real, none of that is who the audience want raping their daughters. We’re looking for class here. We’re looking for fit, handsome, chiseled young men whose parents have the money to pay full freight at universities that carry liability insurance.

The abandoned dope house can’t burn down by the Speed Line in Camden. The City of Chicago will pay to make it happen under the El. That way it can be woven into a season arc that ships Florida Woman with the ginger whose brothers back in Australia are all white supremacist surgeons. We aren’t looking for Greyhound passengers. We’re looking for fire lieutenants who are general contractors, aldermen, ambulatory, and verbal. All things are possible with a broad set of shoulders.

Chicago has ax bars.

****

Scenario: A classmate gets violently drunk and batters you. He’s always getting absolutely trashed and forcing himself on whoever is partying in the same room and catches his attention. Everybody on campus knows how he rolls. He gets pissed off at other guys for making moves on chicks he wants to bang and Jonathan Josey floorchecks them to show them who’s boss. He waits for thots to get plastered at house parties and moves on them while they’re blacked out, confused, and visibly uncomfortable. He roofies their drinks. He prevails upon brothers who would rather slip away one-on-one with affectionate women to join him in gang rapes. After all, they were hazed into SAE, too. They’ve all done the Elephant Walk.

You’re aren’t one of his “brothers.” Regardless of the loose terminology he spits when he’s on benders, you did not sign up for any of that shit. One of his buddies invited you to the kegger. Or it was a come-one come-all walk-in affair. You start flirting with one of the girls on the dance floor. You begin, in the Burmilian parlance, to dance up on one another. Tough guy doesn’t like it. He gets up in your face and gives you a good shove. You lose your footing.

You look like an ass, but mainly you’re pissed.

Or you’re the girl. For some reason this asshole butted in and pushed that cute guy who was chatting you up out of the way. The poor guy looked mortified. Last you saw he was out the door, silent.

You stick around. As the eastern sky lightens, you realize you’ve lost several hours. You can’t remember what time you formed your last reliable memory of the night. All you know for sure now IS now. You’re sprawled out on a filthy couch. Your underpants are on wrong. They’re wet in a way you can’t explain.

You remember the asshole barging in, yelling at that kid you liked, and shoving him. You’re sexually experienced and confident enough to tell this is unusual, and you can’t account for the past several hours. You dimly remember the asshole making moves on you. You dimly remember squirming and moaning, uncomfortably, with a man pinning you down. You think it was the same asshole who shoved the guy dancing with you to the floor.

You think you were raped.

****

The fundamental question in each of these scenarios, male victim of battery and female victim of rape by incapacitation, is the same. Are you: 1) ashamed; 2) intimidated, or 3) angry? Which of these reactions is dominant?

You personally witnessed a man widely known to be menacing and violent commit a battery in front of dozens of bystanders. As the male victim, you can testify clearly to what he did to you personally. Alternately, as the female victim, you can testify to what you witnessed him do to a third party and a second violent crime you believe he committed against you while you were incapacitated and at best semiconscious.

That dude committed at least one prima facie violent crime, likely two. Legally, you have the option to press criminal charges in the local district court. You and the assailant were both under the jurisdiction of the local government, not just the college. The local government has legal primacy over the college. Legally, it is allowed to send investigators onto campus or execute raids there to the same extent as it is on any other private property under its jurisdiction. That shit ain’t Gitmo. College officials and boosters can piss and moan, but it isn’t their call. Their gentlemen’s agreement with the town cops ends whenever the townies determine they’ve stopped being gentlemen.

You plot out the process for a criminal complaint. You research it. It looks impossible, not worth the trouble. You’re mad as hell; you’re adamant that that piece of shit knew better and did not have any right to a warning; he knew his way to the Rubicon, to the waters he fondled with his feet like a whore on Hunter Biden, glaring and smirking at the punks on the far shore.

There were other witnesses, but it isn’t enough. They’ll be intimidated into silence or perjury. The defense will assert that they were too drunk and distracted to be credible. It all happened in the fog of war. By the time it’s over, you’ll be exhausted and emotionally bruised and he, through his attorneys, will have established reasonable doubt if the investigators ever believed they had probable cause.

It ain’t SVU.

This still leaves the civil courts. You can sue his ass. You can throw everything at the wall: petition for a no-contact order broad enough to indefinitely bar him from campus and settle for whatever the court grants; demand a financial settlement, on the record, no NDA, no mercy but the option to refuse to stipulate wrongdoing; a private investigation to trace his entire social and professional circles and interview every person in it who seems likely to have information; service of legal process to the assailant, all relevant college officials up to the president and the chair of the board of trustees, and all likely peer conspirators; a full court press at discovery.

You can make it clear to him, in public, that he will be given no second chance for what he did. If he doesn’t voluntarily stipulate the existence of your complaint on the record, you will exhaust all lawful channels to force his surrender. It isn’t about the other chumps he abused with impunity; it’s about the first time he went too far on the wrong person.

You can go to the press. You can publish affidavits on social media. The threshold for a finding of liability for defamation is high. All you have to do is demonstrate that your outcries were bona fide. If he pushes forward with a suit, he’ll open himself and his fraternity up to discovery. The lawyers will warn them. He’s done the same shit to too many other people. All it takes is one complainant blowing the whistle to break the dam on all of them. The first complainant gives cover to the rest. As they say in London, Melbourne, and Chicago, leaders lead from the front.

It doesn’t usually work out this way. Few plaintiffs are willing to force resolutions on the record. Sometimes, though, Grandma calls the sex crimes squad and gets Holtzclaw off the streets.

****

If that sounds daunting and fruitless, you could always have your complaint adjudicated in house by a hearing officer or tribunal working for the college. We have a big chunk of federal law setting forth this process. It falls under the same title governing men’s and women’s sports.

Title IX.

The Title IX sexual assault adjudication process sets off every possible alarm. The whole thing is a kangaroo court. Hearings are held in secret under the auspices of institutions claiming authority in loco parentis over students old enough to take on massive unsecured debts and enlist in the armed forces. Their rulings have no force of law off campus; at the same time, they expose the accused to life-altering consequences based on questionable evidence admitted into evidence in proceedings with no independent oversight or public scrutiny. The adjudicators have the legal counsel of college solicitors available on demand; they forbid students legal representation at hearings. The adjudicators work for institutions that are extremely likely to be adverse in the near future to either or both parties they’re judging. They have a glaring vested interest in issuing rulings that minimize institutional exposure to liability for serious offenses committed on their property and under their official auspices. They forbid students appearing before them from copying, or sometimes even viewing, documents relevant to civil or criminal cases they might well pursue.

What the fuck is any of this shit? It’s insane. It’s a mesh of systemic conflicts of interest under the private authority–the privilege–of institutions that actively commit preemptive obstruction of justice the moment parties appearing before their courts seek outside resolution of their grievances. Courts–real courts–want to ascertain what remedies parties appearing before them in civil cases have pursued shy of filing suit. Title IX tribunals put defendants and plaintiffs alike in the position of having to respond to judges that they submitted to the private arbitration of complaints of violent crime before closed courts operating under obvious conflicts of interest and actively refusing to cooperate with duly commissioned judges presiding over real cases in the real world.

It’s just fucking bizarre. Schools do not have the sovereign authority to exempt themselves or their students from the jurisdiction of the criminal courts over accusations of violent crime. If I returned to Dickinson to audit classes as a graduate and decided to beat some other student up for some dumb reason, no shit I’d be subject to arrest and criminal prosecution by the civil authorities. This is a good reason not to go whole-ass Preston Brooks on some twerp at the roundtable seminar because you think he mouthed off and you’re mad.

In most circumstances people don’t get to just beat the shit out of one another whenever they’re upset or for whatever insult set off their hair-trigger tempers. Going into Giant and threatening to rape a cashier would be grounds for arrest on the spot. This is common knowledge. It has a strong deterrent effect. What the fuck happened to make accusations of forcible rape subject to private binding arbitration before patently interested arbitrators?

Betsy DeVos infamously did an anti-feminism and a patriarchy when she limited the scope of Title IX hearings to provide more protections for the accused. Betsy is a bad woman from a very bad family, a wretched moralizing lush with grossly feudal pretensions. On Title IX, she was right. She’s a shithead, just not a total shithead. Calling an atrocious kangaroo court system into question was absolutely the right move.

Here’s another thing: I know the type who sit in judgment on Title IX tribunals. I’ve personally interacted with students who served as hearing officers in underage drinking cases. They’re some of the shittiest, most untrustworthy morons I’ve ever in my life known. They’re the same officious petty tyrants who make life hell on line employees at Sheetz whenever they take positions as junior keyholders. They’re larp-grade Judenrat busybodies, unspeakably contemptible.

Their bosses, the people in charge of the Title IX adjudication process, are even easier to understand. They’re college administrators.

****

Driving home from my girlfriend’s place last night I was tripping balls delirious. We’d been hanging out in her room all night. By her reckoning we’re definitely not a couple, but we talked it over, and I was as much of a dumbass as ever to fear she was dumping me from what she insists is not actually a relationship. She was all like, chill; breathe; we can just be intimate. Her idea of “shitty relationship material” is being a single mother of kids who get along bettter with me than I ever expected and consequently often not having time to have me over. If that’s a shitty relationship, I’ll be damned to imagine a good one.

Sociologically, it’s fascinating to talk so much with an exceptionally lucid and perceptive person who knows a stunning variety of the most incorrigibly fucked up losers and freaks in a county of nearly half a million. I was mostly telling her more stories about the down-and-out shitting in trash cans and dumpsters and the likes. She had some appalling stories of ungovernable medical doctors. One was a cute, peppy milf type who bragged about dropping acid before rounds to make work more fun. Hersheypark Happy, I believe was what we called it. Another was a surgeon who drove one of his OR nurses so mad that she left nursing entirely to do well-paid but not particularly moral clerical work. Her problem with the surgeon was that he came scrubbed into the OR stumbling drunk and poked her with sharps in the course of groping her by the breasts.

It was a four-and-a-half-hour marathon of intermittently verbal storytelling. As Sedge Thomson might reluctantly say, if you can’t be legible, at least you can be plausible. I finally drove off around 4:15. At a few points I realized I didn’t really know where I was: probably Santa Rosa, maybe Kansas. I was on a road I drive all the time. Joe McConnell came over the air with his 4:20 wake-n-shake when I was about a third of the way home. That was the only point of temporal orientation I achieved.

By God’s grace I made it home intact and unmolested. Joe came on for his second report of the morning at 4:50. 580 over the Altamont Pass was already down to 15-35, I believe he said. Normal speeds for that time of the morning, in any event.

Fucken A.

I think I fell asleep to Brian Watt’s early local news at 5:22. I had no interest in staying awake for Saul Gonzalez’s chat with Tony Thurmond about some educational bullshit or other. I already spend too much time thinking about the schools. Brian and Saul have a satisfyingly long-lasting effect on me when I’m that fucked up. It’s enough to check in, confirm that their delivery styles are as engagingly bizarre as ever, and go the fuck to sleep.

In the midst of drivetime with the public sector local notables, the mothership piped in from Washington with a report of the latest scandal in the NCAA. It had to do with the lady ballers at March Madness being given shabbier gyms than the gents.

That put me straight back into the preverbally surreal. The coeds were salty about having a disappointing gym. Unbelievable. They were getting national radio airtime to complain about how the men’s teams had nicer workout equipment.

I was flooded with transverbal thot. /Borat Voice/ My Part-Time Wife was facing a full day of Sisyphean parenting on no sleep. Meanwhile a group of elite athletes were throwing themselves a pity party on NPR for having to complain to get a nicer gym to replace their less nice gym, on the basis that having had only a small, crummy gym for their private use was sexism.

NPR’s White Whines always register with me. This one, this time, registered with an inarticulable but overwhelming power I never experience. All I could feel, mentally, was the preverbal–transverbal–knowledge that that squad of bitches didn’t have any real problems, so they were complaining about bogus ones.

They were so embarrassingly close to complaining about real problems. They teetered on the very precipice of karolying the Song of Sport. Lawrence of the Labia, Lying Jordan, J. Denny Dundiddly, Our Lord Joseph and His Servant Gerald: As Yaakov Smirnoff always said, Coach puts in YOU! One might get the idea that the same programs that offer their male players equal no pay have problems worse than shitty workout rooms for away games. Weren’t colleges supposed to be problematic for fostering so much rape? On the other hand, if the focus is carefully kept on bullshit about how the fellas got sweeter iron, one might not.

Those chicks will finish their college careers. A very few will go on to the WNBA, to complain about getting less pay from semi-lucrative teams instead of crummy gyms from very lucrative ones. Most won’t. You won’t play pro hoops, either. I may not know who you are, but that much I know. The rest of the ladies will move immediately into girlboss power careers doing jobs obtainable through mere highbrow hustle, not supernatural athletic talent and luck. From there they will ruthlessly pursue the assortative mating necessary to conceive the next generation of female overachiever, or the male kind.

It has been my misfortune to be aware of Dr. Levine as both.

They know what they’re doing

The scholarly literature shows that increases in interest rates cause increases in suicide rates among farmers in India. Interest rates on farm loans are a big dial the authorities can turn to optimize the number of Indian farmers killing themselves out of pure despair.

Everything’s a Dril tweet, just darker. The published peer-reviewed literature has shown for decades that farmer suicides in India track what they’re forced to repay on loans. Again, this is just the published literature, excluding the huge body of high-grade classified research. There’s a reason why Graham Spanier washed up into one of the proliferating Beltway spook shops when the Penn State Board of Trustees got fed up with him for having been on watch for decades of child rape under the auspices of their flagship athletic program. He’s merely one of the best.

The deep state knows the same things about American farmers. Suicide is a notorious taboo in farm and ranch country. Every fool on the range knows financial desperation is what drives suicide rates in the Dakotas to some of the highest in the country. The security services have to know the same things, just with more detail as to why and, crucially, how.

A classic normcore mistake is to assume good motives meeting bad execution whenever things go awry. There’s no need to execute them when they do the job themselves. *Smug headtapping meme*. NAFTA has been not been good nigh these three decades for the places where Americans can still theoretically afford to live. Come the fuck on. Trashing thousands of functioning communities and hastily building ring upon ring of new construction in metastatic megalopolitan cryptoagglomerations freshly flooded with wave after wave of capital domestic and foreign has been, if you can believe it, bad for many ordinary Americans. This is exactly what the ruling class expected all along. This is exactly what they wanted. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were never privately like, gee, shucks, didn’t see that coming.

We disrupted some folks. We moved cheese on some folks.

This is a ruling class that would know, say, how to mismanage a contagious disease outbreak to calibrated ill effect. That is indeed what they’ve done. They knew good and goddamned well what would happen in the event of the indefinite shutdown of huge swathes of the economy coinciding with doctors’ orders for the whole nation to stay home until further notice. They knew what would happen if advisories to minimize physical contact with strangers were misleadingly framed as orders not to leave the house on pain of criminal indictment. They knew what would happen if they deployed language such as “social distancing” and “virtual festival” or declined to offer alternatives to the muddled popularization of “lockdown” and “quarantine” to describe a Groundhog Day lifestyle of living as a nation of shut-ins on official orders–waited on by roustabout servants on call to venture as proxies into the real world, allowing Brahmins of that certain traditional financial standing to maintain and display ritual purity at Dalit expense–or encouraged the further euphemism of performative hypochondriac neurosis as “cottagecore.”

They knew, in short, what would happen if they indefinitely suspended normal life. They aren’t the least bit surprised to observe big jumps in depression, anxiety, domestic abuse, overeating, heavy drinking, and suicidality. After all, they’ve spent decades practicing on sacrifice zones, to strategically minimal fanfare. They’ve spent decades destroying disfavored parts of the domestic imperial periphery by limiting the same public services and cultivating the same destructive habits in the natives. They were barring the bathroom door even to customers in the ghetto (in the ghetto) for decades before they suddenly shut down countless public bathrooms in rich parts of town on public health grounds. They did the same thing with access to electrical outlets. Mirroring the sudden but lasting unavailability of bulk nonperishables in grocery stores on public health grounds, the sacrifice zones are longstanding food deserts. Their residents were suffering en masse from untreated medical and psychiatric illnesses decades before the affluent insured were suddenly offered “telehealth” appointments in lieu of five-minute physical exams.

Empire comes home.

They knew what would happen if they bullied and shamed ordinary Americans for daring to leave the house, let alone to visit loved ones. We’re doing virtual visits now. They knew what would happen if they suddenly popularized an obscure, glitch-prone teleconference program as the indispensable alternative to actually fucking visiting other people. They knew they’d end up with a population even more sedentary, lethargic, and out of shape than before by dictating insructions to stay home but by all means get out for exercise but for the love of God STAY HOME, in many places closing the parks for weeks or months on the spurious grounds that they would spread contagion.

The schizoid messaging provoked schizoid ideation. No fucking shit. Broadcasting muddled, contradictory messages in the midst of provable gaslighting campaigns will do that. Anthony and the gang lied about the efficacy of masks for weeks before caving to public pressure. That motherfucker told people to get out on cruise ships! He bragged on the record, in the New York Times no less, about lying to the public about expected herd immunity thresholds in an effort to calibrate messaging for maximum vaccination compliance. That’s just the way for officials to do to inspire confidence in new, barely tested vaccines when they work for the same government that did the Tuskegee Experiments, the Pruitt-Igoe chemical weapons tests, and nuclear weapons tests in the Desert Southwest. The US Government serially runs tests on uninformed, nonconsenting subjects, as our ancestors were called in Merry Old England. Not to worry, though: NPR helpfully informs us that racism is why vaccination rates are lower in nonwhite and poor neighborhoods than in rich white ones. Surely it hasn’t a thing to do with mass distrust of the medical authorities, an awfully unreasonable worldview were it to arise.

Check it out, guys. New dial. This one says “vaccine.”

The authorities know what they’ll accomplish with systematic wokescolding. They know it better, more intimately, in more granular detail, than you or me, or at least me. This is where it gets really weird. Everything gets warped through a looking glass beyond the one warping our perceptions of life and health in the time of neither. We hear much more about sex and race than we do about class. One wonders which of these three makes the puppeteers at the networks squirm.

NPR platforms a growing team of black personalities who speak in an accent from the uncanny valley of the Not Quite White. It’s very disconcerting. Loading that particular weirdness on top of the already advanced weirdness of the House Voice as a generalized, panracial affectation by way of speaking about and on behalf of America’s oppressed minorities is, all of it put together, just overwhelming. It’s disturbing to think about anyone taking any of it seriously. Totebag Nation is a painfully earnest people. Maybe we should think about something else instead.

Maybe we should go enjoy something not pertaining to the trendsetters of our great land and what they do with their disposable income. KQED claims to have beaten its pledge goals. It advertises the URL’s of its advertisers’ dedicated webpages for KQED listeners. We’re crowdsourcing work for the Audit Bureau of Circulation now. God bless and keep America.

When I listen to NPR’s proliferating racemongerers and actually think about what they are and what they’re doing, on top of the auditory assaults of such characters as the terminally schoolmarmish Mary Louise Kelly and the animatronic spook Michele Kelemen, I can’t help but notice that ain’t none a them choppin’ cotton. It’s naughty to entertain thots of the House Negress, but what else are these characters? They cook and plate this hearty hoppin John; I merely report on the delicious dish, for the audience to decide. The readership can have a little watermelon discourse, as a treat. The retard can have a little pecan pie: food to eat.

Ah, that’s right. We don’t talk about bad deeds around here. Bill Clinton wokely had Ricky Ray killed before dessert. Son of a bitch passed the goddamn Marshmallow Test. Absolute Legend. I’m just an uppity loser who actually works with crops so far not including cotton. Who am I to question the rectitude or judgment of some interchangeable black lady who talks in the same weird-ass cadence and diction as every other interchangeable she-robot on NPR?

Many of the he-robots speak likewise. Guy Raz is going full Brokeback Mountain on John Ruetten as we speak. Lazarus, do you copy?

Today, on how I built this tent in my pants–eh, never mind. That wasn’t going anywhere good. It wasn’t going anywhere at all, honestly. I wonder what Mark Fuhrman thought about the Westside Jews. He probably just griped about Steph being a fucking split tail in front of that shiksa and her camcorder.

Send me some picture postcards already, you stupid South Sound cracker.

Harbor or no harbor, it’s always fun to brame a fellow for talking his white ass out of that gig. That probably sounds as braindead as I felt writing it, but Fat Cracka don’t mind.

The authorities knew what to expect from cooping the country’s disposable income up in front of screens and berating the normies not to dare seek out unmediated interactions outside their own households. They knew they’d end up with a nation of hypochrondriac paranoiacs reflexively shunning independent businesses in favor of the handful of multinational behemoths always advertising online and on TV. They knew they’d scare people into driving everywhere and getting everything they don’t order in through curbside delivery or drive-in lanes. It’s so fucking dystopian to go past In-N-Out or Chick-fil-A in reasonably navigable traffic and see the drive-through line spilling out into the fucking street. Food banks are drive-through now. It’s unfuckingbelievable.

Who wants this bullshit where everything has to be prepackaged in plastic for single use and served through a car window because we’ll all kill our grandmothers by sitting down in a restaurant lobby and briefly touching a soda dispenser: independent restaurateurs, or the Darden Group? Any of the big restaurant groups can shut down indefiitely, wait for the small fry to die by mass attrition, and recapitalize overnight. The independents cannot.

Big business is fully aware of this. Uber and Lyft are fully aware of their opportunity to kneecap mass transit systems. Instacart and the supermarket chains are fully aware of their opportunity to bust drivers’ unions with a flood of 1099 scabs. It’s the same public-private partnership as ever. Mussolini had a name for it, the same name hysterical liberals (sic) throw at Donald Trump every time he mouths off like a freak about some meaningless distraction.

Disengage from this matrix. Do your own thinking. Mouth off at them in the privacy of your car whenever the talking heads say something obnoxiously divisive or are just being assholes again. It works for me.

Better, turn that shit off and get on the bus. In this house we observe the Wesleyan Traditions. In your house you might as well, too.

Up the Hershey Highway again

If Jimmy Carter had nominated Rachel Levine for a cabinet office, Joe Biden would have spent the month fuming, verbatim, about “the trannies.” I don’t see why he isn’t talking like that in private this month, assuming he’s verbal (and that’s assuming a lot!) That’s exactly the crudity of thought that got Levine nominated in the first place.”C’mon, man, I’ve got a Negress, a bunch a’ other broads, a faggot, and a transvestite! Gimme a break, Jack!”

There’s no political strategy to Levine’s nomination. There’s a narrow technical argument to be made that it shores up the support or enthusiasm of cultural liberals, but that’s a risky strategy. Trans rights are politically fraught, to say the least, in case anyone was puzzled by the spate of mishaps at “gender reveal” parties (#TeshTips: The noun, possibly mentioned in the Bible, is “revelation”), and voters who find ladyboy idpol inspiring are all Blue No Matter Who cult freaks. “How can we alienate the most swing voters by pandering to the narrowest, most marginal, most controversial part of our coalition?” It’s certainly a question Democrats ask, and yes, I wish I meant that sarcastically.

Biden, or Harris, nominated Levine for even coarser, seedier reasons. It’s an inept, offensive gambit to keep the coalition’s unruly leftists in line. Geez Louise, Jack, we gotcha your he-she, Mack! Voting against the presidency responsible for this nightmare would be bigotry. Huh. Am I allowed to be bigoted against a person because I’ve personally met shit and had a bad personal experience with shit? What I’m saying is, I refused to darken that freak’s exam room a second time back when she was still Richard. I have higher priorities than what the nomination to high federal office of the worst physician who has ever examined me means for trans rights or representation in government. That’s a case of whoa, she should NOT be in medicine, and she needs to be banished down out of medicine, not up into a position of official authority over it.

We hear a great deal these days about “qualifications,” always in a bogus credentialist sense meant to subvert the plain, expressly narrow constitutional qualifications for office. Rachel Levine is old enough and American enough for an assistant cabinet post. So am I, and I’m more fit. I’d consider the office a burden requiring me to live up to great, solemn duties of public trust. Levine is trying to get herself Peter Principled, and I know she never meant to have one, up out of an equivalent state-level position in which she got hundreds of medically fragile constituents killed just last calendar year. What assholes who bitch about the “qualified” versus the “unqualified” mean by the former is 1) having jumped through professional hoops, in a manner prioritizing outcome over process if there’s any conflict between the two, and 2) being politically agreeable. The honorable thing for them to do would be to focus on political agreeability, which is their actual aim, and shut up about “qualifications” as a synonum for fitness for office, since they’d never tolerate a callous freak like Levine if they actually cared about fitness. I don’t expect them to do anything of the sort, of course. They’re thoroughly dishonorable.

What I don’t entirely understand is why Tom Wolf, who seems overly idealistic but sensible, ever elevated that freakish dipshit to appointed statewide office. For all I know it may have been blackmail. Damned if I can say blackmail of whom, but hot diggity, Denny, we can take the plausibility of this one straight to the mat, way down low. Is #FOOTBALL also heterosexual, like wrestling? I ran cross country in high school, back when I still lived in Pennsylvania. The first mile was always easier.

#WeAre! #TooSoon! Wolf was probably just being a bleeding heart. It’s also all too plausible that he was prevailed upon to remove Levine from full-time clinical duties at Hershey. There’s always a benefit to removing a case of that extremity from medical practice. Elevation to a directorship of public health is a terrible way to do it, but it doesn’t eliminate what Mainers call the relative benefits. Instead of practicing medicine all the time, she was practicing medicine some of the time, or maybe just instructing unfortunate medical students, and spending the rest of the time either fucking off for a living or telling other doctors what to do.

In a more functional society, public office would have served Levine, and crucially the public, as a veal pen. Fatten up, moo a little bit, just don’t wander out here and bother us while we’re trying to work. Instead she meddled catastrophically in the Covid response and got constituent’s her mother’s age killed en masse in nursing homes. Did she leave her mother in the home? Hell no. She got Mom the hell out of that dump to save her life.

But that’s just one bad officer holding one office in one state out of fifty and one commonwealth out of four. Between the states and the territories, there were dozens of people the Biden Administration could have chosen over Levine from exactly the equivalent offices. There were hundreds upon hundreds of state cabinet officers they could have chosen.

Levine was Wolf’s problem. She’s not a problem I’d want to have, but I haven’t voted in Pennsylvania in over a decade. Now she’s up for confirmation to a federal cabinet office. Goddammit she is my problem after all. Son of a bitch. Why in all hell did they have to No Peter Priciple her into HHS?

Oh yeah. Shit. They have to keep the voters they’re ratfucking in line to reward them for committing serial abuse. Don’t dwell on how we’re betraying you every bit as badly as you feared when you voted for us; think about the diversity of our cabinet, trannies and all.

I don’t think it’ll work. It’s a perfect setup for a whopping Bradley Effect in 2022 and 2024. Levine is arguably the most fucked up person they could have elevated out of an organization that has also recently harbored Our Lord Joseph, His Servants Gerald and Graham, a child psychiatrist who was caught with child pornography on his office computer as part of his unapproved “study,” and another psychiatrist who got his card yanked by the medical board for marrying his patient. Don’t worry; the only one who summarily fired was the Boer spook, and he promptly washed up on the shores of the Beltway.

Seriously, nobody’s gonna fucking vote for that shit if they keep refusing to deliver. Levine will be either irrelevant or notorious. They expect to bully and shame us all into keeping both Democratic caucuses in the majority and Kamala Harris in the White House. Let’s face it: Biden isn’t even the president now lmao. He’s the titular president, and he pipes up with suggestions from time to time. Harris can obviously run circles around that skull full of cream of wheat. Of course, they’re gonna all be like, hey, look! A faggot! A tranny! A colored gal! I paraphrase. Ordinary voters will be disgusted that they all had to be dragged out of the uncanny valley. NPR caters to the hardly overpowering faction of well-to-do voters who can stand to listen to woke idpol shit. It catches some downwardly mobile ascribed bougies and some social climbers, too, but if the economy doesn’t turn around come the midterms–and I mean the whole real economy, including everything involving money, like healthcare and schooling–they’ll lose the last of their patience and help hose the Democratic Party off the Hill.

Joe Biden is a bigoted asshole who decided to start bringing freaks and phonies into his orbit for use as tokens, in the disgraceful hope of distracting the public from his rotten misgovernment. He’d still be fuming about forced bussing if that were still where he saw the clout. It’s considered unfit for polite company these days, so he doesn’t. It’s off-brand for a man of “empathy” and “decency,” i.e., still what he believes as a reactive thug who challenges other men to fistfights for asking him policy questions and feels up their wives. He still says the same kind of shit on hot mics that he was saying on the Senate Floor before I was born, just sometimes with less coherence.

He isn’t plainspoken; he’s a foultempered bigot, always on the lookout for a chance to punch down. He’s still racist as hell. That’s how he got to spend eight years as the lieutenant for a fellow white supremacist, the man whose office he now holds, if he’s able to hold anything for ten seconds. Joe Biden is Richard Nixon, but less gracious, less liberal, and less intelligent.

That’s the fucking thing. All a politician has to do to convince our retarded Washington press corps that he’s “working-class” is use some shit-tier folksy syntax. Those are supposed to be some of the keenest political minds in a country of over three hundred million, and all it takes to hoodwink them is to very crudely play against type. Tricky Dick, who was painfully aware of his own modest blue-collar upbringing, made a point of speaking in full, coherent, grammatically correct sentences. LBJ, the Texas-bred graduate of a normal school, took the same approach. Sonny Bush, a legacy Yalie and legacy president from the summering set, headfaked a nation of goobers with strings of downhome gibberish: food on your family, power to power the power of the generating plants, other shit the scrambled likes of which he definitively did not say in private. Trump, too, was less lucid in public than in private, although it takes true oratorical skill, including mental organization, to say some of the outrageous things he said and loop back onto topic from ridiculous streams of consciousness. Our presidents have been good Toastmasters, crummy Toastmasters, great Toastmasters, horrible Toastmasters. Woodrow Wilson’s PhD was neither from MIT nor from a crummy college. Yes, Virginia, there were racists in New Jersey back then, too.

Biden is granted “working-class” and “blue-collar” street cred for making utterances ranging from the rude to the abusive to the belligerent in a moderately rough Mid-Atlantic accent. It works because he does it for other worse-than-useless mandarins. It isn’t for the working class; it’s for affluent and rich twerps who have never socialized with anyone from the working class. Some of the most urbane people I’ve ever known come from genuinely working-class upbringings. One of them is the son of a Pittsburgh steelworker. Inweaved in the Extensive, whose parents owned “a goddamn steel mill” (a different one, I’d hope), had the son of a shop steward for the mail carrier’s local in Scranton editing his term papers. This wasn’t the smart leading the dumb so much as the exasperated brilliant trying to teach the intelligent to write English as well as they spoke it.

Any of them are enough to convince me that Funny Uncle Joe’s shtick is lame. He’s a salesman’s son who’s spent his career trying to convince idiots that he’s somehow not a lawyer by using obnoxiously meaningless sales talk sprinkled with half-coherent legalese. He was never blue-collar, and his father was never blue-collar. It’s some bullshit his handlers helped him make up, same as the “decency” and “empathy” of a dotard too senile to reliably walk in the right direction for twenty yards who was going to “hit the ground running” upon his inauguration.

None of this horseshit points to anything he’s ever actually done, other than being buddies with some Amtrak conductors. He’s a total phony.

We’re entirely right to resent First State Skull Pudding and everyone around him with a passion. They’re fully qualified for public office. So is the morbidly obese Plymouth-Whitemarsh community trust retard I once met, the one who told me about how he’d chat up the teenyboppers guarding the pool at his apartment complex: “So I go up to them, and I say, hey, sweetheart. What’s your name? Where do you live?” We’re absolutely right to resent anyone who confuses qualification for office with fitness as a way to buffalo ideological opponents out of the way. That retard wasn’t fit to be undersecretary of health, either. To his credit, though, he never tried to practice medicine.

Yes, Rachel Levine is qualified for cabinet appointment. She’s a US citizen of constitutionally sufficient age who has not been adjudicated liable to ask the lifeguard where she lives. Actually, that’s exactly how clumsy Levine was when he examined me. By the way, she looked worse as a man. You /sagest Dril voice/ do not gotta hand it to Kenneth Fitzhugh for murdering his wife, or for being normal, but you do for looking all right. Charles Cullen was never sexy enough for an Indiana license, either.

Again, that does not mean Levine has any business anywhere near public office. Do they even fucking vet these assholes? Gee, let’s check with her last employer and, well, shucks, that isn’t what we were hoping to find. Instead, Jen Psaki is up there smugly noting that Janet Yellen is a woman, not a crook. For God’s sake Stephanie Lazarus is a Jewess, too, but I don’t think many of us would be complaining about her conflicts of interest if she were appointed director of the National Endowment for the Arts. Also she’s killed fewer people.

That’s the quality of leadership that gets coughed up in our meritocracy. No, not Steph; it’s a miracle she didn’t make RHD in time to investigate herself. And not the creepy silver foxes or the fat retard, either. I mean the rest of them. They’re awful. Meritocracy that slow guy’s ass, and mine, too. They do not merit our respect. They merit our scorn and fury.

Messing with Texas

Yankee shitlibs refuse to confront the ugly truth that the gross misgovernment of the South mainly harms Southerners, most especially poor Southerners. It’s probablly because they’re racists. This evil country has been building common cause between Confederate brutes and Union appeasers since Appomattox. Charles Sumner got his insolent white ass caned on the Senate floor for refusing to accommodate his fellow cuntrymen, a misspelling he would wholeheartedly agree is not one. Some of speak more deeply in the Vulgate than others, some of the time. The good old classists–goodness, classicists–of the Good Old South were, as Sumner provocatively pointed out, Daniel Holtzclaw, just prissier. That was enough for Preston Brooks, Southern Gentleman, to forcibly get Charlie off his political bullshit. #CHAHLEE!

True Song of the South: I had the pleasure and honor, in my troubled youth, of briefly getting to know Mr. Charles and his owners. Mr. Charles was a nice pussy. They lived in a bed and breakfast outside Luray. Good folks, of all breeds. Mr. Charles was far from the worst Southern Ginger. Any of you fools read about the characters who founded this nation? My parents were taking me to a summer camp between Harrisonburg and New Market. Mr. Charles had his shit way more together than my modal peer or chaperone at camp. That outfit put the loco into the parentis indeed.

These days I’m much less troubled on my trips to Virginny, new, old, and dead. I’m talking about trips where I do shit like break down in tears in an easily bent-out-of-shape Marylander’s arms when we see each other for the first time in fifteen years and she asks me how I’m doing. “I keep thinking I see her.” All alma sane, y’all, is, some of us are less fucked up than we used to be. Take courage! Take comfort! In a world when so many things regress, some nerds advance!

Huh. We’re recycling our #content again. But ask: How much is there that is new under the harsh Texas sun? The ugliest members of the gentry are still grievously torturing their socioeconomic, and hence racial, inferiors. It remains the official policy. The scions of old-line Jeffersonian families do it because it’s what their families have always done. Canadian immigrants and other arrivistes in the Jacksonian mold do it because it’s what the Jeffersonian master class has done since time immemorial. We’re examining here the examples the American Adams of their diseased culture set in their own lives, not the ideals they proclaimed. That’s some perverse phrasing I used, but it’s not like we just started deploying seedy political accusations of treason and incest.

To plunge into the truly odd, our recently departed Oaf of Office, a man of publicly avowed incestuous interest in his own daughter, is consistently accused only of treason, which there is absolutely no evidence he ever committed. Did he get entanged in foreign rivalries, against the sage advice of our wiser framers and in the immediately recognizable fashion of every predecessor holding his office in his lifetime, as well as that of multiple framers of the United States Constitution? You betcha. Was whatever he thought he was trying to accomplish in the Russia and the Ukraine treasonous? Good God, y’all. “Woody Allen adopted that girl? Okay, but he’s Julius Rosenberg.” Come again? Dafuq?

The Russia obsession is the psychotic political equivalent of Ella Emhoff’s style of dress. That bird of prey goth bullshit is itself an updated version of the extant tradition of dressing up in starched shirts and neckties as a sign of one’s transcendence of physical labor. We’re encouraged to believe she does that to shock the bourgeoisie. Huh uh; homegirl is doing that to BE the bourgeoisie. The smartly dressed black bum on the San Diego Trolley who told his Goodwill muumuu-class white girlfriend “I can’t afford to go to the bank no more” dressed respectably because he couldn’t afford to go to the social capital bank no more neither.

John Regan would probably argue this is why we maintain monarchies. I take a different stance. This is why we mock monarchies. This is why we mercilessly mock all who butt in with aristocratic or monarchical pretensions. Go back to Canada and take that fancy-pants imperial condescension with you. “Oh. Which Canadian?” Yeah, that’s the fucking problem. We’ve got one in the fucking White House and still have one in the Senate. I’m afraid we can identify Regan as one of the good ones because he fled for Canada, not from it. They can’t all be Chad Kroeger or the Mentionable Justin. If I was them, would I let me in, like they did Dziekanski? I’d like to think so, but honestly, I’m interested in the backchannels–ironically by surf and turf, not sky–more than I am tempted.

Many of us, then, are stuck here. Do I sound like the kind of Cancunt who gets into Congress? Guadalajara? Oh no. Volaris is the Greyhound Airborne. Let’s see if there’s some room on the business standby list for Houston. Well shit, in that case maybe there’s a couple cops waiting for me back home, at the airport.

Bitch you could fly to Calgary instead, eh?

Rafael Edward’s Mexican Adventure is, in strictly technical terms, a distraction from the catastrophic failure of ERCOT and many of Texas’s municipal water supplies under the onslaught of a cold snap that was accurately forecast days in advance. That said, it’s of a piece with Ted Cruz’s decision to fuck off to Mexico during a statewide crisis, blame his minor daughters for making him abandon his constituents, and telling a press scrum at the Cancun Airport that he was flying home to roll up his sleeves and work on the grid. Cruz wore a Lone Star Flag mask for his airport press conference. He literally, bodily justified himself from behind the cover of his state’s flag.

Don’t mess with what now? Who dat living on the Gulf of Mexico and vacationing down at a different part of it to get out of the cold? Cruz’s block got priority grid service at a time when his constituents were on the verge of dying of thirst, dozens of them as a preliminary estimate had already died of exposure or carbon monoxide poisoning, and he and his family had fled out of country, not just out of town.

Everything they say happens to political cultures and supply lines in communist countries just happened in Texas, on an even worse extreme and grander scale. Indigent Texans are lining up for bottled water at drive-through delivery points. Will Rogers thought it was absurd that America went to the poor house in the automobile. That’s how we, as a country, are going to the soup kitchen and the open call for fucking water rations. It’s an astoundingy dystopian work of science fiction, and the citizens of a hypermilitarized police state, the subjects of the sole remaining global imperial superpower, are living in it. That’s our real life.

Fuck off about bitch-ass Russia. That joint at least seems to more or less work. The Gulag was a chronic atrocity, nothing to dismiss or justify, but it was never the fault or immediate business of the United States. It was a Soviet atrocity. Americans were right to denounce it in its day. But the United States is currently operating its own Gulag archipelago. It’s committing many of the same atrocities against its own prisoners, many of whom it incarcerates for political reasons. This is what America is doing to its own people today, as I write and you read. Our prisons deny their inmates food or serve them food that is unwholesome and barely edible. They deny their inmates clean facilities and clean water. This week, Texas prisons have been denying their inmates water, period, denying them heat, and even denying them blankets.

It’s controversial to say that the United States is a nation founded and run on genocide. Maybe we should think about something less unpleasant, something less recent. Mercy, O’Hara.

Mercy, Mr. Charles.

Most politicians, even the psychopaths, are keenly aware of how important it is to show empathy. The psychopaths among them at least try to mimic empathy to an extent that they figure will fool the rubes. This is exactly why there’s such a concerted campaign to praise Joe Biden for his “empathy” and “decency,” and Kamala Harris for her “warmth.” It’s a sickening effort to rehabilitate two armchair thugs who have devoted their careers to doing evil and continue, to this day, to deliberately do evil. The point of this campaign is to gaslight genuine liberals who voted for Biden and Harris in ambivalent but desperate hope that they’d be better than Trump. This same jumble of bullshit and lies is also good for writing the story of American politics from scratch on the blank slate of the low-information voter’s mind and reassuring illiberal propertied Wilson-Deukmejian Republicans who believe in life without parole much more than life with it that they’re in fact good bleeding-heart liberals.

The message is Message I Care. Poppy Bush was a psychopath pandering to the worst angels of the American electorate’s nature, but geez, they make a federal case out of it if you’re walking around the shanty in Kennybunkport in your plaid PJ’s at three in the afternoon just because you’ve got a case of the sniffles, so geez, Argentina, go cry for that papist collaborator fellow Bergoglio instead or something, and let me know how pork bellies are doing on the Exchange before I’m all out of rinds.

The point of this shtick is to bamboozle the public. They’re eager to minimize the cohort of dissidents openly wondering why that goody-two-shoes piece of shit spends so much time Downeast and never goes riding with Teddy. The gambit worked with the Bushes because their elders and family retainers teach them from birth the need to maintain the false front of noblesse oblige. The false modesty of WASP shabby chic is a way to avoid rubbing it in for the losers. They won’t vote for you if you flaunt it too much, kid. Behave yourself. Keep the guillotine memes directed at someone else, some idiot and fool who doesn’t know what’s best for him.

Ted Cruz’s message is What, Me Care? Message I Don’t lol sucka. The free press is eternally vigilant, always on the lookout for an easy dunk. The public enjoys an easy dunk and is increasingly furious with its officials. A savvy, refined politician knows this. The Bushes all try to act like they care. It isn’t just an old money thing, either: Marco Rubio and John Kasich try to show some fucking modesty, too.

Cruz is too arrogant to try to show any fellow feeling with his constituents. He’s too shameless. He doesn’t have it in himself even to make an insincere show of gratitude for having a lavishly compensated six-year contract for a position of public trust ostensibly requiring part-time hours but subject to no meaningful attendance or performance standards. He doesn’t have it in him to act like he’s got a good gig and is lucky to have it. He shows no interest even in pretending to want to repay the trust the public has placed in him. He flew back early from Cancun because he got caught. He put his name on the fucking upgrade standby list.

Cruz won’t resign for being so self-serving and irresponsible in the face of an arguably unprecedented crisis, the way the asshole mayor of Colorado City did after lashing out at his constituents on Facebook with a tirade about how he and the rest of the government didn’t own them a damn thing. That guy was a two-bit local yokel, used to doing whatever bad deeds he felt moved to do in obscurity, slithering around in the muddy dark. He must have been taken aback to get pushback for blaming his constituents when they begged for help during the infrastructural crisis of their lives. Cruz is used to the limelight and the savagery that comes with it. He’s used to being not just hated but one of the most hated members of the Senate. His colleagues can’t stand him or Mitch McConnell. By some accounts they have more patience with McConnell.

Scumbags whose understanding of communism is members of the Nomenklatura fleeing to their dachas on the Black Sea while ordinary Russians living in shabby housing estates wait in bread lines all day are here to tell us all about how their tropical vacations in the thick of a deadly breakdown of civiliation were perhaps ill-advised in hindsight, but privatized utilities issuing $200k household electric bills because they felt like market-surging the costs of energy they just barely delivered, when they delivered it at all, onto their ratepayers. This is capitalism, bitch. This is the free market. This is what we must defend against imperial interference from our own federal government, no matter the hardship.

ERCOT’s executives have been quick to accept blame–not all, but some–for their failures. They must be horrified by how badly they got caught off guard. It’s an unfortunate name, ERCOT. Watch your gonsonants; you good gadge a gase of id. The truly embarrassing part is the R. It stands for reliability.

Oops.

There’s a reason for their relative accountability. Independent system operators are run by people with extensive, granular technical knowledge. They’re forced to work in the real world, and deeply so. ISO’s attract people who take intense pride in their work. They literally keep the lights on. They’re embarrassed when they don’t. In episodes as dire as what just ravaged Texas, they’re powerfully alarmed.

Rick Perry is able to mouth off about the honor of enduring hardship for the sake of the continued independence of an electrical grid that just catastrophically failed because he suffers little hardship from the failure of public utilities and he socializes exclusively with peers who suffer little hardship. The cognitive dissonance doesn’t register with him because he casually, instinctively dehumanizes fellow Texans who do not live on properties with industrial-grade home generators. It helps to think they deserve hardship for being losers, and therefore of low character, but people of his class, even people I’ve known who are merely upper middle class and have a chip on their shoulder about somehow living in precarity and having to fight to kill what they eat, fundamentally conceive of “people” or “Americans” or “New Yorkers” or whatever else they find resonant as themselves and their class peers. “My Uber tonight was a sweetheart!”, that kind of thing. If she lives in her car and parks for the night at the hopelessly overcrowded rest area on the hill above Vallejo, she won’t breathe a word about it.

Rick Perry is a few stations up the line from there. He doesn’t understand what it’s like to live in a normal house. When his ilk arrogantly issue grandiose pronouncements about “Texas” or “Texans,” they’re pontificating about nothing of the sort. It’s Trolley Time with Uncle Fred. Everybody in Thailand has a servant. They need the servant to drive the family elephant. It’s awful when the family elephant has to go to the vet and they have to cross Bangkok on the elephant bus to their jobs as their servants’ servants

I’m fuller of shit than the elephant’s ass right now: the servants are not part of “everybody.” Duh. They’re excluded. They’re the underclass the law binds but does not protect, bound to their due station to serve the overclass which the law protects but does not bind. It’s no coincidence that rich, cosmopolitan parts of the United States are hardening into caste societies, in ways that overlap with race but in no way entirely map onto it. It’s no coincidence that famously liberal Santa Monica is ever more infested with property owners who foam at the mouth with fascist rage, good Democrats who privately concede that Stephen Miller has some good points but they don’t want him clamping down too hard on the beaner supply lines that keep them in gardeners and maids.

When Rick Perry blusters on behalf of “Texans,” he excludes the vast majority of every major Texas city, with the possible but unlikely exception of Fort Worth. That’s the most generous possible description. He’s actually excluding damn near the whole fucking state. The simultaneous, nearly statewide failure of electrical, water, and natural gas supply lines during and on account of an extreme cold snap is an entirely different beast from differences of regulatory philosophy or practical day-to-day engagement between the state and federal governments. The Texas state government allowed electric and gas utilities to decline to weatherize their key facilities in the interest of short-term investor profits. This was the regulatory regime AFTER a similar but milder cold snap in 2011 caused widespread power failures.

Working stiffs will not stand for this shit, in the name of Texas or in the name of anything else. The mythical hardscrabble pioneer stock the likes of Rick Perry claims to represent in fact exist. In parts of the state they’re prevalent. They’re mythical in the sense that their hardiness and prevalence is somewhat exaggerated for lyrical effect. If they supported the separation of the ERCOT grid from neighboring megagrids, it was to make it easier for the people running the system on the ground to keep it affordable and reliable. That kind of thinking isn’t just belligerently ideological. The continental-scale cascading failures precipitating the 2003 Northeast Blackout were a consequence of ill-designed and ill-managed interconnectivity on a continental scale. That blackout was truly nightmarish. My parents and I were lucky enough to be visiting family and friends in Oregon when the grid failed and to have booked ourselves on a return flight that arrived after the grid was back online in our part of Pennsylvania. If ERCOT were tied into any of the megagrids in the same haphazard, brittle fashion as the regional ISO’s are tied into one another within the megagrids, the results could be calamitous.

The North American electrical grid is designed, constructed, and operated for shit. ERCOT is not uniquely dysfunctional. The current (heh) blackouts were exacerbated by inadequate interties to neighboring ISO’s. In this instance, ERCOT’s unusual regionalization and operational separation from neighboring systems inhibited its capacity to import power from outside and then distributed it internally. In the event of a big sectoral blackout on the scale of 2003, ERCOT’s independence might well keep most of Texas fully powered.

Again, this shit isn’t about Texas. Exploitative bad actors in public office and corporate marketing departments want to make it about Texas. They want to make it about their lies about renewables failing during the blackouts to distract from the failures of deliberately unwinterized fossil fuel infrastructure. It’s about calculated disinvestment in already vulnerable and poorly maintained public utilities.

In a word, it’s about looting. Vulture investors get corrupt governments to give them the license to loot. They encourage them to gouge ratepayers, strip company assets, effectively embezzle capital on hand, and make a shambles of what they’ve been chartered to run. Texas is one of the states whose governments they’ve most thoroughly corrupted, and hence one whose citizens they’ve most thoroughly beggared. It isn’t because Texas is Republican. They pull the same shit in Democratic states. I’m due to pay PG&E $150 this week. I have no control over the stewardship of my utility payments. I have no control over how much of it goes to infrastructural improvements versus administrative costs versus embezzlement. About a third of it is going to Sonoma Clean Power. Do I have any goddamn way to direct that cut, or to know what the hell they’re doing with it? Of course not. It’s probably more transparent than PG&E, but for all I know it may be a huge pile of bullshit, and if it is, that’s a low-priority agenda item on the civic triage chart.

Yeah, we’ve got a lot of smug Californians–PG&E ratepayers, no less–shrieking about the absolute awfulness of Trump and the Republican Party and the states they win, rather than taking the beam from their own eye. Greg Abbott would probably find a way to make PG&E even worse, but that’s no excuse for blaming ordinary Texans. For the love of God cut that shit out. They don’t deserve to suffer because they vote Republican. They don’t deserve to suffer because their states voted Republican.

The demographic breakdown of the latter might skew darker and poorer than Mark West, but I can’t White see how.

A December to Remember, if we’re still around to remember it

There is no refined or delicate way to put this. Americans will get killed for reporting or trying to break up Christmas and New Year parties this month. 

It’s a recklessly nasty thing to do in the best of times. This year, it’s a death wish. We’ve been through so much this year. We’ve been asked, nagged, begged, screamed at, and ordered to make sacrifice after sacrifice while officials flout the rules the same week they promulgate them and our medical system melts down across the board. We’re pitted against each other, the genuinely sickened and frightened in league with resentful health nuts against those who insist on continuing to live their lives while they still have lives to live. It’s a barrel full of crabs, the ambitious clawing back at the resentful for clawing them back from their bolt for freedom. It’s Shawshank Redemption for hectoring stool pigeon trustees who send terrorized blockmates to the canteen to do their shopping. 

Bent but traceable through lines run back from this discord, through the English Civil War to the DIY Puritan Transportation and the Norfolk Company, and back from there, if more fuzzily, to Medieval peasant revolts. Wat Tyler’s ghost beholds our antics and smirks. It’s an old feud. No matter our modern technological innovations and postmodern decadence, we embrace tradition. 

It can be confusing. It can feel incoherent. The shrieking about how it’s an unscionable infringement of inalienable godgiven brithight liberty to have to put on a mask to go into Whole Foods during a respiratory pandemic currently coinciding with flu season comes overwhelmingly from a batshit crazy combination of establishmentarian zealots who want the government to dictate strangers’ sex lives and generally secular property owners who want the police to beat their homeless neighbors to death in the interest of neighborhood “character” (real estate values). Both off these coalition partners skew affluent. 

Watching the American Revolution from the Motherland, Samuel Johnson asked, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?” Gee. That sounds oddly familiar. It’s the same question. Can you believe it, Rodriguez? Fly all the way to Johanesburg and you still can’t get away from it. 

Thomas Jefferson proclaimed a rather different agrarian ideal for his constituents from the one he lived as a planter in Monticello. That’s a deal where a rich guy has whip-wielding thugs force other people to do the planting. It should go without saying, but surprisingly few Americans are aware of these small details, on which not only lawyers but soldiers and armory raiders dwell. As upcountry praxis, rather than Piedmont ideal, Jeffersonian agrarian virtue spread across the new country, over mountainous swathes too broken, remote and nonarable for largeholders to bother infesting for conversion into estates, then over the prairies under the Homestead Act, which was basically Honest Abe and the crew telling the vulgarians of the industrial trusts to restrain themselves and be grateful to monopolize minerals, metallurgy, and the railroads. Only in some instances did this model degenerate into Jacksonian coarseness.

Still, Tocqueville made America, the whole of it, sound like one huge sprawling village of the insufferably smug. Government services were meager to nonexistent; taxes, less so. But what else should we have expected of a federal government whose first CEO personally led a cavalry raiding party overland across Pennsylvania for the sole purpose of shaking down frontier crackers for excise taxes on homemade hard liquor? “We haven’t the funds to pay our war debts.” Shit, George, with that spread you’ve got down by the river, maybe it’s because you have the money. The immediate civic upshot of this thievery, in the decades before the granges universally came to the conviction that the railroads were somehow a worse racket than the Erie Canal even though there were so many more of them and they operated all year in almost all weather, was the consensus that neighbors were responsible for neighbors, every man his brother’s keeper, but in ways requiring countless formally chartered voluntary organizations, and somehow yet allowing deep poverty to fester throughout the land in spite of whatever the hell these organizations and their ostentatiously busy members thought they were doing.

Kinda cucked.

As Lincoln rued would be excruciating but morally necessary and inevitable, the blood drawn by the slavedriver’s lash was repaid with the bullet and the bayonet, in pastures and wheatfields and forests and (I’m always driving up Pryor Road like an incorrigible wanker to look at the trees on my way to the perimeter of Camp David for more fucking trees) peach orchards where, in our decadent postmodern times, a tourist might quietly whistle Ashokan Farewell on a leisurely midday stroll, think sucked to be here back then lol, and drive over to the General Pickett Buffet. I probably still have the punchcard for the chef’s dozen somewhere.

By the way, that place sucked ass. So did employment in the Catoctin Furnaces. The ironmasters in Cornwall looked down on their grunts for being filthy peasants. The sun came out once a year, when they cleaned the furnaces. Everybody went blind for the week. Down the hill, the construction of the Union Canal was notoriously micksploitative. The same crowd drove the 1863 draft riots in New York. Fiddle dee fuggen dee, m’love; oil beef hooked to doy fur some bloody Yankee race shite, Huizenga.

Break out the lonesome fiddle, Kenneth. Ply me a poignant tune on me telly.

Really, the Yankee Puritans lost the plot the day they left Appomattox. Lincoln was a railroad lawyer before he was an uncomfortable but resolute wartime president. His son Robert became a railroad lawyer, railroad executive, and golfer. Yankee and Rebel junior officers preemptively made nice with each other over graduation week, in unctuous farewell letters cluttering college archives. Sometimes I wonder whether they let in the coeds soon enough or too soon; one would hope for a moderating influence on the boys, a let’s fuck the parietal rules and fuck each other kind of deal, but they were exactly the shitty high-middlebrow Victorian broads who always married the overwrought messy he-bitches of the age.

Reconstruction failed. The old Union turned ever more into a Hamiltonian industrial dystopia. Jeffersonian virtue retreated into the deeper hills of West Virginia, of all incredible places. eventually taking a stand against the railroad and mining trusts, their backs pushed to the wall, pushing through now their only way out. Their descendants still do railroad sit-ins, or more accurately sit-ons, with whatever outside allies wish to join them, and you love to see it, or maybe you don’t so much if you voted Bye, Don.

As we noted near the start, this shit gets incoherent and confused. We don’t discuss this all too recent unpleasantness, but Po Whitey hated his masters passionately enough to take up arms with black slaves as One Community Under Bacon and later joined integrated trade unions in the Jim Crow South which we absolutely do not mention. Shanda fur die Yankim. Hush, child. George Wallace addressed black lawyers as Mister in his court and raised black teachers’ salaries in tandem with whites’. Bitterly racist downhome Cajuns? “We like Uncle Bernie!” It isn’t something the Jews say much in Greenwich. Funny, that. Is this some kind of money thing? Is this some communist class warfare?

It’s Russia, Rachel. The crackers and the honkies and the hunkies and how the hell did the Nigerians in Atlanta start voting for this shit over You Ain’t Black are all in it for the gold-plated Kim Philby treason, not the trade and industrial policy, which was never anything an Atlanta cardiologist ever wanted, so maybe the Nigerians really are trying to become white (they’re already White), although with the all the micks and wops on the force in New York City it’s a miracle there’s a soul left in Nassau County who isn’t colored.

Gimme a break; for once I’m just listening to NPR While I Poast,, not chronicling it. Fucking gimme one, Stossel.

*****

I don’t know what I was trying to say, other than what I just said. If Monty Robinson’s mutual cousin with Todd Palin bore Kwesi Millington a bastard, that would be the wrong kind of Afro-Indian for the vice presidency, and God have mercy on me for writing about shit I heard about the worst possible Canadians on NPR again. No, I don’t mean the Mounties, and I don’t mean Sweet Melissa bringing me coffee in deathbed, either; that I learn by reading. Is Fundamental. It is to study.

Come to think of it, if any of us can figure out why I did, the Palins are worth another quick review. The village idiot knocked up a union oilpatch tradesman’s kid, but Grandma was America’s Milf Governor, and none of it sat well with equally affluent families whose median ages were floating into the fifties while their babies pushed thirty, these precious brats all in graduate school under whatever duress it took to keep them on the straight and narrow path. Why couldn’t that stupid slut get an abortion? For crying out loud she was still eligible for dependent’s benefits under Obamacare when she did it again! A brat in elementary school, a second at the breast, nobody to keep her out of trouble when she got into trouble except for however many dozens of siblings and cousins who’d been changing diapers since they were ten and fighting over who got to hold the latest baby since they were five and could probably borrow airfare from the community chest if it came to it and would definitely be game to do some babysitting in Phoenix instead of the Mat-Su Valley for a change, and only a judgmental asshole from the Salvation Army or the Republican Caucus Sarah always helped the Democrats sandbag, or maybe Walt Monegan because he’s still upset about having to let what’s-his-name the alkie Trooper be Safety Bear, would care that you’re trading food stamps for a ticket to Sky Harbor and Xanny for the flight Outside, if you can cash me dare, Rollins, because there’s no shame in taking a trip to give your fiftieth cousin a break from your sixtieth and seventieth; but I mean, Jesus Christ, who the hell let the mother of such a woman run for the vice presidency when there are so many qualified professionals like Kamala Harris, girlbosses who stayed in school.

This is subsidiarity. No, not that fucking Canuck bitch; Sweet Melissa would at least have the domestic graciousness to bring me coffee in deathbed, and I should hope we would flee for protection to better death penalty abolitionists than that goddamned Anglo-Quebecker when we have Nob Hill Dreamboat holding the dual offices of the governorship and Napa Valley Job Creator Customer in Chief. Gavin said it himself, in a Gabbin: We’re decisions, not conditions. I’d certainly like to imagine we are, but Kamala’s are terrible because she’s been living in a bad one her whole career.

Against the odds, which the goods famously are in Klondike Country–it took me just as forever to find a California girl to tell me “Buddy you aren’t my boyfriend,” but the produce is better AND cheaper, and the drive over to her doublewide isn’t on roads covered in snow, drunks, and moose–I know where I’m headed, even though I’m taking my thots for another walk. It’s an Amtrak conductor who told a group of us, “The fifteen-year-old and the sixteen-year-old fight over who gets to hold the baby. It’s great.” He meant it. He spoke with 100% Napoleonic sincerity.

Yes, I’m aware that it’s usually Republican shitbaggers leading the charge to defund publicly chartered common carriers and cast the dedicated, competent workers running them out into gig app destitution or whatever the hell else they can find for themselves, but once again, that wasn’t Sarah Palin’s scene as governor. In rough terms, she was a center-right mayor, a center-left governor, a politically unclassifiable candidate for the vice presidency–hockey mom subsidiarity, Howard Jarvis-ass whining about taxes because it’s expensive to be a hockey mom, Northern Exposure Annie Get Your Gun shtick, walk-the-talk pro-life grandstanding mashed up with the usual persecution complex grievances-, and most recently a mostly hard-right cable television personality.

Whatever all she is, You Betcha is a vigorous free thinker. She’s a freer thinker than Mocha Haole. So is our thicc moist boi, the Oaf of Office. This is where we must unfortunately look again at liberlism and what fresh horrors have become of it. We can be confident that it is wack, not good, but what is it all about? Wot is ANY of that all about? To judge from recent commentary, it’s largely about what we’ve just as erroneously taken to calling conservatism. John Bolton and George W. Bush are statesmen of great character now. It’s because they don’t yell. John Bolton has always been notoriously abrasive and foultempered, but he only yells about, like, how he has perfect policy and everybody else’s is trash, not how Anna Wintour is lame or Pete Buttigieg is an Alfred E. Newman tryhard.

The Democratic rank and file need to vote for Joe Biden because a growing list of Republican grandees say they’re voting for Joe Biden. We need a Democrat to take back the White House. Huh? Why doesn’t that mean that Biden is the Republican candidate? The most bloodthirsty Beltway demons are upset with Trump for challenging core Republican policies and then getting distracted again: grasping junior lanyards, chiefs and deputy chiefs from all the spook nests, House Voice creeps on NPR, Taylorist armchair generals who tell actual generals to shut up about how they need workable plans for rear-echelon operations to win foreign wars. Trump wins entire states with margins of victory totaling fractions of his share of antiwar registered Democrats who would gladly vote for Bernie Sanders, too.

We’re rubes for questioning this Alice-in-Wonderland freak show. It’s now normative to insist that Vladimir Putin, who has little to say about domestic affairs in the United States and not a huge amount to say about US foreign policy, is orchestrating wholesale mind control of the American people out of a few cube farms full of junior intelligence operatives doing chatroom and comment thread work in English (after a fashion) all day, in contrast to the horde of ever more aggressive US intelligence operatives and assets who openly, forwardly tell private citizens what to believe but would never, ever try to brainwash anybody by catfishing as everyday housewives concerned about the direction the country is headed.

The Bircher wackjobs pushing this nonsense are, among other things, the same class of scolds who clutch their pearls at the trashy, low-class dysfunction of the Palin clan, often while enjoying their expensive upper-downer regimens much less than the Palins enjoy their grab bags of whatever they thought looked good at the liquor store on their way to pick up their latest pick-me-up from Levi’s one buddy who just finished another shake-and-bake home batch. “Oh, but you’ll get into trouble with drugs. You’ll have trouble focusing at school and work.” Fair points, but I never see Sutter Home trying to produce LESS Chardonnay.

“Drug use will keep you from getting into a good school and landing a good job.” Ah, it’s great to be back on the bullshit again. You mean low class. Everything the Brahmins ridicule about the Palins is something they look down on as low-class: starting a big family young; teen pregnancy; carrying a teen pregnancy to term; conceiving and bearing children out of wedlock; police calls over domestic disputes; middling educational attainment, always miscategorized as low as possible to imply idiocy and unemployability; clumsy, explicit nepotism, as opposed to the smooth, implicit kind, which Rod Blagojevich also neglected; an interest in state fairs; police employment; DUI; Beef with the Chief because he refused to give one’s drunk-driving in-law trooper a prized costumed PR post at the State Fair; unionized trade work; snowmobiles; pickup trucks; low-key statehouse bipartisanship; unabashedly having fun at politics; open, rambunctious religiosity; enthusiastic free-association riffs on Mama Grizzly and the Sourdoughs as political oratory.

A number of these things are statitically class-neutral or upper-middle-class. It doesn’t matter; we’re journeying through Wonderland, and it ain’t the one where the Blue Line ends. On second thot, that sounds like it might be misconstrued. Specifically, we aren’t at the one where we’ll be forced to get Charlie off. #CHAHLEE!

There’s a very deep, very broad resentment at play here. Brahmins resent the Palins for freely, boldly living their lives, and especially for suffering no discernible socioeconomic consequences. Those who stray are to be punished. It is their cosmic destiny. Don’t even dare say it’s a result of bad public policy. The policy we have is the only policy we can have.

These objections are the same ones that got Colonial authorities upset about settlers running away to live with Indians. I don’t mean this racially; the same people would have exactly the same ugly reaction to the Palins if they were undeniably white. They and their below-average children are a rebuke of us and a threat to our above-average children. Their refusal to miserably jump through hoops all their lives negates OUR dutiful payment of OUR dues.

“Liberals” would be less upset with them if they were blatant three-sigma fuckups. They’d have no problem with the Palins if they had a life expectancy of 35 and a lifestyle of cycling between the drunk tank and a home life of eating instant noodles for dinner under a sheet of plywood in an unheated ditch. This is about the degree of concern they show for the homeless in general.

What rankles them is that the Palins are a reasonably normal and well-adjusted family who showed up on the national stage affluent, uneducated (they expect law degrees), and expecting their first grandchild in their forties. The discovery that the voting public can pass credentialed, polished candidates over for promotion in favor of a loud, proudly uncredentialed and unconventional woman with a blue-collar husband and a happily pregnant minor daughter scared them. It still does. It reminds them that their own bosses will hurl them to the curb like so much trash if they step out of line, or even if they just lose the superhuman energy so many of them need to meet their quotas.

They hate being upstaged and outranked by a family of breeders whose heads of household at the time they became famous were a non-civil service salaried public employee and a trade unionist. It makes their beloved Democratic Party look like it doesn’t care about unions or their members, and it in fact is an aggressive unionbusting organization. This is not a circle they wish to square for skeptical voters.

When they say that Barack Obama is smarter or more eloquent (no, Joe, not articulate!) than Sarah Palin, what they mean is that he’s more urbane and makes more of a show of being educated. It’s like if I wrote in Cory Lerios for president because I prefer Pablo Cruise deep cuts to Justin Bieber. What he actually says is routinely as vacuous as it comes, or cunningly evil, or both and more: the Flint water supply is fine because he “drank” it (took a tiny sip from a glass whose source was and is untraceable), there’s no reason for NBA players not to go back to work, “we tortured some folks”–he actually said that, verbatim, in public–, I had to drone them, but I did it all cool and conflicted and Eichmann-like.

Obama is heinous. Palin runs hot and cold, unmodulated, rather like Trump. As I keep saying, here and everywhere else I think to mention it, this is the safe style of politics. It’s truth in advertising, a shock to voters, not the chronic numbing, soporific effect of the smooth scumbags who usually float themselves to the top. Obama is the leech injecting its paralytic agent into its host, to feed on it until it is killed.

Idpol was notoriously a primary factor in Obama’s career, and he tacitly encouraged it every bit as energetically as he rued it in his public denunciations, but I’m not sure I can decide from week to week how important it was to his career. The Palins got jack shit worth of idpol points for being Alaska Native (or American Indian, as Sarah looks to be more than Elizabeth Warren). Jesse Jackson lost Obama’s base to Michael Dukakis and Poppy Bush. Message: I Don’t Care If You Ain’t Black. Joan Didion’s extended dispatch from the trail makes Jackson sound like a predecessor not to Obama but to Ross Perot, Bernie, and the Other Dr. Jill. No, the elector may not have a little Rainbow Coalition, as a treat, unless he first has a little Massachusetts governor, as a vegetable. Obama’s elections were greatly aided by his running against two loose cannons representing the unpopular party of an open dipshit two-term incumbent during an abrupt economic crash, then against a fake-wholesome Dudley Do Right Mormon and his openly contemptuous hangdog starve-the-beast Wisconsin wackjob lieutenant.

There’s a serviceable argument that the only thing the Democrats had to do not to lose in 2008 and 2012 was hold off on what they did in 2016. It’s barely a variation on why America elected an Afro-Indian Canuck broad to the vice presidency this time. The competition said it all. The Oaf of Office refused to act like an adult for an afternoon during a once-in-a-century public health crisis. Mike Pence didn’t even try to pretend that he didn’t consider his constituents filthy little piggies at the debate. These were the only fucking things these guys had to do for a shot at reelection.

Four years beyond the retirement of a half-black childhood expatriate weirdo from the presidency, the country elected as its next veep a hella weird half-black teen expatriate turned highest-ranking Wilson-Deukmejian Republican holding elected office in California. We still have to drown in NPR cringe about that creep, because NPR, and additional racist cringe about how Gavin grabbed a beaner to replace the bindi negress in the Senate, but not so much about how the replacement just happened to have ratfucked Bernie in the primaries as the California Secretary of State, but this isn’t necessarily anyone who couldn’t have been elevated to such unacceptable height while white (like Mike the Greek lol). The racebaiting helped, but it was a lily-gilding operation.

I think. I hold too many thots.

What the Brahmins actually demand of their officials is devotion to the polite fiction that merit matters. Again, pay attention to who does NOT get idpol points for being a kike or whatever. Would I have voted for Bernie Sanders AND Loretta Sanchez a third time? Of course. Is that diversity? No. Why? Because the same radio scolds are giving the same celebratory homilies as ever. Besides, Bernie is antisemitic because something or other about Israel, which is all Jews, but really because they would never, ever, ever say that about a self-loathing Jew. The psychology is elegant, not elaborate.

Here’s the deal. You can’t spend your thirties doing fuck-all on pirated electricity in a travel trailer and maybe some shitty hippie carpentry and then just show up in the mayor’s office because you convinced enough voters that your platform made sense. You can’t run for the presidency on the stipulation that we aren’t comfortable here because we aren’t from here but we’ll start to become more comfortable through the healing of withdrawing from the fruitless overseas bloodbaaths we started with the pashtunwallah on the orders of the Baltimore Walrus. Mr. Bolton is a statesman!

No. You need to pay your dues, and not to whatever low-class bullshit was repping Todd Palin against BP. You need credentials. You need qualifications.

It certainly helps to be colored, like Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg. A Maltese is an Italian who’s an Arab, but also an Englishman. *Defiantly Scottish Mark Knopfler Voice* That little faggot. As Yogi Berra pointed out, only in America could a Jew be elected mayor of Dublin. The fork in the road worked either way because he lived in Montclair. There are of course other islands that are equally controversial to call America, m’love, yeah? Upsetting the ancestors and not even offering them any King’s rolls, yeah? That’s why we move to the mainland to start our political careers, yeah? Back in da neighbor islands da police chief puts on a lei to peddle influence true his wife da prosecutor, who also dresses like dat too even doe she’s Portuguese, and dat’s white, not wetback or some kine.

This is why our politicians swoop in from states their fellow haole idiotically assume to be free of all public corruption and win election by telling them, look, folks: You can trust me. I’m from Chicago.

Our idea of diversity is always some wooden cipher who turns out on examination to be blood-curdlingly cold. Dad translated Gramsci into English, so let’s talk all smooth and then wreck the Canadian bread market and get schoolchildren killed by shutting off streetlights to save the city a few bucks on its electric bill, but let’s be all gay and Midwestern about it. Alex Padilla: now is that guy a beaner or what? Uh, dawg, I get that you’re trying to get surplus elites to bark at each other from the veal pen like they’re resegregating Compton, but did you have to find somebody who, now that more of us are looking into his record, turns out to be another slimy crook?

It’s the Yugoslavian crackup, but as farce. Some of the more anxious types, like Michael Grasso, are worried sick that the rising tide of Brahmin idpol will provoke truly dire communal violence. They have a reasonable point, but my gut read is that it’s a sideshow to the actual vectors–moronic but resonant white supremacist Facebook memes, #BackTheBlue Punisher merch, the hypervigilant paranoia of the Karen ethnic minority on NextDoor–i.e., insufferably obnoxious, a serious political and civic problem, but ultimately inert in the streets. If cops were just like, hey, stop calling us just because some guy is taking a walk in your neighborhood, that shit would become REALLY inert.

It’s more hypocrisy. Becky may well have a BLM sign in her yard. In this house we believe in tolerance, lov–hey, get your skell ass off my lawn before I call 911! Zooming out to the structural elements of the fractal, although we really ought to stop using that videochat horseshit and go meet out friends in the park or something, we see Kammy again. Of course we do. The criminal undesirable can have a little prosecutor of color, as a treat.

Many on the right are aware of this. It’s an awfully easy script to flip on the libs. Donald Trump might have carried California if he hadn’t convinced so many kids in San Berdoo and Solano that he was out to deport their family and friends. Or maybe the Republican-identifying Wilson-Deukmejian Republicans would have voted for their girl and kept this here shit as blue as Monterey Bay. This is the quality of analysis I bring to the table, and I live here. Then again, look at what we all have before us,,, too Anal Eyes.

*****

Something of this nature is inevitable when only one side correctly reads the other for deep libidinal urges. This whole thing is about sex and death. The right wing, as we’re lately construing it for half-coherent reasons, is the only one that openly figures we might as well have some first. We’re riffing ever more elaborately on the little-discussed undertones of 2016 as a fight between a warm, gregarious libertine and a frigid, bitter prude. That was another good reason to claim my stateroom on the Stein Steamer and see if anyone else wanted to grab a berth: a ticket of two apparently well-adjusted adults talking about grown-up subjects in ways that made sense, instead of a vicious scold scorned diagonally opposite a he-scold church hug dork who was all like, oh no, a man should not be in the same room as a woman, lest he become lustful and cause scandal (yeah, like the raging horndog you allowed to hire you as his lieutenant when he was already known to shamelessly walk in on teenyboppers in the girls’ dressing room).

It’s what we call a political realignment. It didn’t make hella sense in the nineties, when Tipper Gore was whining about rap lyrics and the Big Dog was throwing Joycelyn Elders under the bus for encouraging young women to *Tom Lehrer Scoutmaster Voice* be prepared, as part of his vain effort to win over a Republican caucus full of serial divorcees and perverts. It doesn’t make sense today, with #MeToo veering into neurotic, avoidant paranoia about all awkward sexual interactions being assault at the same times as characters such as Soulja Boy get record labels and nightclub airtime for their songs of the celibate and the alt-right workshops the notion that it isn’t rape because she secretly wants it.

This nasty scene wouldn’t happen to feature some cringe racial tropes, would it? Oh sweet innocent baby child it fucking does. The left–again, as we’re construing this ridiculous shit–crashes into raging upset about the often dark poor trashing its property values by recreating in “its” neighborhoods, has another partially overlapping segment of the poor do its driving and shopping, and bit by bit decrees the poor, servant class and surplus underclass alike, as ritually impure.

Out in the provinces, loud and proud Republicans get their own damn groceries, chatting amicably with the cashier at checkout. They hear about this caste system, and the polite fiction that it is liberal. They smirk, knowingly: another crop of libs begging to be owned.

Things invert. It is now conservative to have casual sex. This sounds like nonsense, St. Robert Bruce Ford soberly partaking of the venerable rock, but if liberalism stands opposed to liberties of interpersonal physical intimacy in these times of contagion, and sex is obviously one such liberty, what else CAN casual sex be but conservative?

It’s baffling, but it’s coherent enough for American politics. This isn’t that fucking wizard shit. The lower orders of our ruling class cherish a series of fantasy novels about the white moderate. Hear me out: the Bartlet Administration, but everybody dresses up like an absolute dork and flies around on a broom. Huh. That sounds dreadful; let’s write up the contract and pay out the advance right here. By all means, be sure to perpetuate an ambiguously enslaved underclass in this storyline but communicate that the exploitation of this underclass for the support of the overclass on its multidemensional antigravity CIA brooms is only modestly problematic to those who examine these things too closely.

It’s normcore, but it’s normcore for batshit insane idiots who are without a doubt exploring the Spectrum. Many such cases! Let’s be sure to ridicule conservatives for their religiosity while we’re at it, and of course make fun of them for their oopsie babies.

That’s the thing. One couple’s–one community’s–career-ending unplanned pregnancy is another’s spontaneous family formation, one child born in the world to carry on. How can this be a bad thing?

Of course, the devil is in the details, and so when the ideals of family values subsidiarity fail in practice they often fail hard, and transitively so. Their failure fails families. George W. Bush probably said it, too, or Dan Quayle, but it’s true.

On the other hand, when it works, it works beautifully. That’s who Bristol Palin did for her family. She could’ve picked smarter, but the kids will probably be all right. There’s no need to stress about getting the kid into the right preschool.

Glorious Nation of Bougiekistan is intersectionally horrified by this alternative model because it sets an uncomfortably bad example. It raises the specter of being outnumbered by a horde of dysgenic zealots; let us be sure, then, to denounce the white ones and be tactful about what brown can do for you, too, on demographics. The booj are scared to death that their own precious brats will go native with low-class breeders. It’ll wreck their college and career prospects. It will dilute family fortunes and family standings.

This helps explain the intramural controversy over socialism in the Democratic Party. The PMC normie centrist wing very much does not want free money going to low-class losers who will waste it on bullshit like raising their low-class loser kids; these precious, scarce funds are to be stewarded for the education of the worthy elect (and the military). The broad left wing–Trump-curious blue-collar types, service sector workers (an actual working class the lib normies dare not contemplate because its existence would trash their prejudices), ruined surplus elites bitter that they got such a raw deal–damn well want the free money. If it’s good enough for Bezos, it’s good enough for us. The fuck is the problem with giving everybody two grand? The rich may not give a shit to get it, but the middling and the poor will be grateful because they need it. Do we really gotta means-test this shit again? Aging MSNBC tiger parents aren’t all like, please, means-test my Social Security check and reduce it if I exceed the eligibility threshold.

It’s always somebody else who must be strangled with the red tape. The neighbors can have a suitably little Castilleja School, capped at an enrollment of 415, as a treat. I don’t know if any of you wanted to be apprised of Palo Alto again; I didn’t particularly, but Palo Alto reached out to me by yard sign on my way to Christmas Tree Lane. It’s like the new father of the pride eating the last schmuck’s cubs, but for good down-to-earth public school supporters who love them some Walter Hays and can’t stand the rich bitches half a mile up Embarcadero.

The difference between this obnoxious horseshit and the means-testing of welfare is the difference between a bitchfest about the neighborhood quality of life (the worst people making the best arguments about street trees and traffic for the worst reasons) and government massacre by determination of ineligibility. We’re dealing here with politically hyperengaged property owners who are convinced, existentially and libidinally, that their survival depends on the Darwinian murder of the unfit. Mind you, they’re good woke liberals, so they insist on decimation by bureaucracy. It must be bloodless and deniable. There’s no way they could have known that their beloved elected officials would get their poorer constituents sickened and killed by insisting on proof of eligibility for public benefits. Yeah, no way except for their frequent, adamant refusal to provide for universal public benefits. Are we really expecting a single mother who’s desperately trying to piece a living together from minimum wage jobs to afford a lawyer or an accountant to dispute denials? Or are we secretly, subconsciously satisfied–even relieved–that this regime we support by always voting for weasels who enact it keeps her off-balance, precarious, and indigent?

These conditions make her a better servant, yes?

The Population Bomb guy’s only child is a nonprofit lawyer turned dog groomer or some other bullshit like that. Yeah, I guess I’m really one to talk, but that’s what a community gets for setting up a runaway real estate boom instead of an annual per capita sovereign wealth dividend for its legal residents.

The loud and proud right looks at the deracinated, barren, low-key eliminationist eugenics of America’s SuperZip freak zones and wonders, quite reasonably, whether the locals ever get any action. They hire proxies for their wars, just as they do for their grocery runs, and they sure don’t act like they get laid. They practice and insist on propagating a quasicelibate form of toxic eliminationist eugenics. Since that’s what the libs are already doing, what the hell is wrong with a socially exuberant, sexually active, fertile expression of fascism? That’s toxic, too. It veers into martial genocide, babysnatching, and rape. It yields performative horseshit like gender reveal parties (excuse me, children, I believe you mean revelations) and T-shirts with unfortunate gross discussions of how daddy splooged in mommy as passive-aggressive territorial patrol against the homo tranny shit and whatever.

I’m not saying it’s good. I’m saying it’s already here, it’s morally comparable to liberal one child policy eugenics and the associated overwrought hygienic protocols (see Palo Alto, obviously), and it gets a fool some ass. Hence President Trump. That, and trade and industrial policy and not being a prissy squeamish bitch around the hardhats.

We’ve been over Trump’s role here again and again. It’s predictable enough that the Donald takes the lead from time to time on cutting the damn check while Third Way shitbirds and their nominal enemies on the Republican right throw fits about procedure and fiscal discipline and other crap they suddenly stop believing when Lockheed-Martin shows up for another feeding.

*****

The relatively reasonable aspect of the respectable center’s objections to the healthy sexuality and familial abundance of clans like the Palins is that little people following their example won’t be able to afford to raise the spawn they so recklessly conceived. Back when the respectable center racialized this scolding campaign in the nineties under the auspices of welfare reform, welfare-to-work, and similar nerd-ass policy followups to Reagan’s Cadillac welfare queen slur, Toni Morrison made the ridiculous offer, in the first and second persons, to raise young black single mothers’ babies while they go to medical school and become neurosurgeons. I come up with grandiose cringe plans when I’m hypomanic, too. She was on to something, though. Our first black president and his wife could afford to hire the village to raise their child.

In many ways, government really is just the name we give the things we choose to do together. Contemplate it and shudder. Dat subsidiarity, tho. Who will be there to help the single mother raise her children, or the young, unprepared, unwed couple theirs?

Call me old-fashioned, but I keep thinking about ad hoc combinations of union pay and benefits, local friends and family, and government assistance. Gee, these are exactly the things our shitbag centrist rulers keep denying us! It’s impractical to expect these things of society and unreasonable to demand them of the government, but huh, whaddaya fuggen know, the same politicians who chide their constituents to be more reasonable about these things and wait in patience for incremental progress towards them (it’s called progressivism now) always find a way to oppose these same things when they come up for a vote. When push comes to shove, it is our lot to live deracinated, indigent lives doing on-call servant work for a pittance, scattered to the winds from hometowns our rulers have decided to gut and rebuild for their own private use (gentrification) or strip and abandon in full (the Rust Belt).

The hell is “voting against their own interests” supposed to mean when this is the agenda voters try to defeat at the polls? Voting for Trump the populist is coherent. Voting for Trump the liberal or Trump the leftist is coherent. It’s a longshot, it’s a Hail Mary pass (in this house we pray not for football, a vulgarity of the earth, but to St. Richard Russell, an aerobat, for support from the skies), but it’s coherent. Remember the lesser of two evils? Silverado Trail remembers! Where else would I go to be forcibly bathed in cope for grabbing my spot on the Stein Steamer, a voyage towards the affirmatively good, even though I easily preferred Trump to Clinton but didn’t see the point to voting for the dumbass who thot he’d keep the cartel drugs out with a wall when we were still, like, a decade away from ranked-choice presidential voting? Okay, yeah, Mark West or anywhere from Blossom Hill to the Marina and on over the bridge to some shit like Novato (but maybe not the poor part of town down on the frontage road between the freeway and the slough, out by the airport); that shit would work, too, because this state is right fucked.

It’s just as coherent for the affluent to vote for the Democrats’ predatory agenda because it works to their socioeconomic benefit, short-term and if they’re as lucky as they hope also long-term. Good liberals that they are, I guess we just have to keep listening to their psychotic rationalizations about how their voting habits are altruistic, or else retreat from civic life into Benedict Option escapism. The Amish get ass like they’re Mormon, you know. No, I mean one wife in American Dork–I mean, goodness–maybe two if you’re discreet, not some Colorado City bullshit where you have your private police force run surplus young men out of town because you fancy their sisters, which sounds different from the rest of America more than it is diffferent. In a still far from ideal society, grown-ass adults indulging in the faddish fixation on Hamilton would admit that they’re dipshits with bad taste in art, not act like they’re doing civics by soundtrack. Still, notice that they get the absurdly fresh groceries, delivered, by government when they can’t by courier.

Don’t blame me for using that language. I learned it from Dave Freeman. That unfortunately fits into the puzzle, too. KQED is now encouraging its listeners to donate by the end off the year so they can get a tax break for keeping their money in California. Slushing money to other rich people is charity now, but in high circles it always has been. The cope we’re using here is the ridiculous assumption that California’s net contributions to the federal treasury are paying for Mitch McConnell’s necrotic ass, not for the merest creature comforts for piss-poor dying Kentuckians out in the trailer park hollows who got that way by trying to work for a living or collecting much smaller government checks. McDowell County is about a tenth black these days, but it’s pointless to think about actual highland demographics and their implications on the left coast campaign to #StayWoke. We’re just trying to maintain #BlackLivesMatter as the archipelago of yard signs it should be. Swear to God, we’re just trying to kill off the honky-ass West Virginians, who have to be the whole population. Oh, the Black Belt is a net recipient of federal funds? Huh. Surely we aren’t trying to kill poor negroes from our 99.5% nonblack neighborhoods, through policy.

*****

How, as our Parkhomenkometer flatlines at its hard upper mechanical limit, could Bernie would have won?

Duh: by appealing to poors out in the provinces who maybe hold crudely retrograde racial views or maybe have dear friends who are black or maybe have both. We like Uncle Bernie! The Ragin’ Cajun doesn’t, but he isn’t one to work for a living. As we discussed above, that ain’t a check you get from the gubbyment by /extremely Guyland voice/ filling out forms, standing in line, and waiting here, for the Pennsylvania you never found.

Yeah, Bernie wears his mask. He isn’t a scold about it, though. He and Jane shooed a group of volunteers back out on the sidewalk early in the Rona, but they were Jewish grandparently about about it, not assholes. No, no, wash yaw hands befaw you come in faw dinna! Okay, you ready faw some bawsht? The other thing is, he’s trying to keep Americans alive, not starve the poor to death.

Many Americans are just trying to side with life this winter, not death, even in this death cult. They want a spiritually, socially, physically meaningful life.

TSA throughput numbers are credible, but what Anthony Fauci says about them is not. No, I’ve been lying to the American people about the herd immunity threshold for their own good. What nuclear reactor explosion? Why the hell are the Swedes saying it’s our radiation. How awful it is that some of them flew to see family this Christmas, as slightly fewer but still many did for Thanksgiving, in these times when travel means looming death but it’s also something we could all catch in the supermarket and the authorities are doing approximately jack shit to mitigate it. How dare they try to live their lives while they still have lives to live? They should be content that “we” are, as ordered, simply having a virtual Christmastime.

The drive to the airport is still the most dangerous part. That’s why I try to take the train.