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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interstate Avenue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The permanent business plot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are these motherfuckers serious?

NPR gets worse and worse. Avowedly commercial drivetime radio in either of our national languages calls into question why the FCC remains chartered if it won’t put a regulatory stop to such atrocities, so the possibility of NPR offering something better is alluring. It’s always nice to imagine that there’s good in our world. Instead, the totebaggers offer us merely a different horror. Its superficial aesthetics are better, just as Bernie Madoff’s superficial aesthetics were better than those of an Amway consultant or car salesman who won’t get out of your face, but I shouldn’t be so snarky about the old crook: dialing in to the Butner Jewish Gentlemen’s Kaffeeklatsch would be a huge improvement (yuge!) over the shit I just heard on Morning Edition.

For some awful reason probably having to do with a neurotic bourgeois obsession with the micromanagement of daily schedules, NPR has started advertising itself as something that’s hella informative to listen to for just twenty minutes a day. My points of clarification are twofold: First, if it’s some good shit, why the hell wouldn’t it be a good idea to listen to the entire program, or to get a portable radio (please to not encourage shut-in behavior) and listen to the entire day’s worth of programming, and, second, if it alternately sucks, why listen to it in the first place? The House Voice has also been advertising a website called Curious, which purports to help its audience or readership or instascannership or whatever the fuck learn the good stuff, like Mandarin Chinese, in, I recall, thirty-minute increments.

I needed only twenty minutes this morning, or thirty, or thirty, or maybe thirty-five, which I will not be doublechecking because I cherish the feeling and the appearance that I am not insane, to hear two separate but equally grotesque pieces of sponsored content for the neoliberal regime.

The first was an interview with Joaquin Castro, a Democratic Member of the House for San Antonio, in which Mr. Castro (Raul sounds better by the day) used the recent mass-casualty migrant smuggling truck incident to plug additional work visas for foreign agricultural and high tech workers. Neither Castro nor Steve Inskeep (I’m not doublechecking whether it was that cracker or David “Big Sexy” Greene at the mike, either) discussed the possibility that ag and tech have trouble recruiting Americans because the work conditions and the management suck. We’ve discussed ag at length in these pages, including the sad truth that the In-Laws are far from the worst (DiL actually called me a few minutes ago for an unruffling of feathers, invitation back to work, and IDK WTF all, because as dysfunctional as that operation is, it’s a weirdly self-righting ship). We’ve discussed tech less, but others have discussed it at painstaking, salacious length. These industries have to recruit foreigners because they either shut out or alienate the locals.

Joaquin Castro is a certifiable self-bullshitting fool because he described Texas as having major highways running north and south and east and west, making it a crossroads. This contrasts it with a number of other states, including Hawaii, maybe Alaska, and absolutely no others. A family friend had a classmate at University College London who turned in hilariously overwrought research papers, one of which described Burma as having, like all countries, lakes and rivers and mountains and plains, and noted that the northern part of Burma is called “North Burma,” and so forth around and into the compass. Castro is the same dude, but without the flowery, uncalled-for literary descriptions of William the Conqueror’s horses snorting into the cold dawn mists at Hastings.

This shit about highways running in four different directions and crossing each other was the reification of “Perspectives” with Lionel Osborne, but without the comedic charm, and not at 4:43 in the AM, either. This ain’t Coast to Coast, cracka; the aliens would have better insight into the geography of Texas. *Transmission of Data incoming* According to your human directional conventions, United States Highway Number 87 runs in the approximate directions of northwest and southeast, crossing many other highways along its path on vectors diagonal to theirs. *Data set complete* Some of our more familiar, less legal, aliens might wonder what the fuck it matters whether there’s a different highway running in a different direction as long as there’s air conditioning in the trailer, but their voices weren’t of any use to NPR under the circumstances.

Neither was any discussion of the Border Patrol’s internal checkpoints, which are as comprehensive in Texas as they are in any state. Even putting aside the serious constitutional and civil liberties problems with the checkpoints, a trailer smuggling dozens of illegal immigrants (by some accounts, up to 180) seems like exactly the sort of thing the checkpoints were established to interdict. The idea is that the Border Patrol has no fucking capacity to properly patrol and secure the border (yeah, this is problematic, too), so instead it takes advantage of a number of natural chokepoints on the interior highway system in sparsely populated parts of the Southwest to make sure that nothing fishy with respect to immigration status is allowed to pass deeper into the country, into the unsecured (secured?) parts. Yeah, great job there, guys. You come bother us on domestic passenger trains through Buffalo, but nothing seemed off about this truck? Do these jagoffs even check cargo manifests against what’s actually in the trailer? Of course not. I mean, maybe sometimes, but there’s nothing comprehensive about this regime. It’s totally arbitrary. It’s security theater. The difference is that TSA officers dress up like Boy Scouts as reimagined by a cop-fancying Village People cover band, while the Border Patrol dresses up and arms itself like the guys on the East German side of Checkpoint Charlie.

The second whatthefuckular item on NPR this morning (and there may have been more, for which I’ve tuned out) was on the Marketplace Morning Report segment. Marketplace seems to have started as a sort of intellectual diversity initiative, a neoliberal show focusing on investing and flapper lounge music to balance NPR’s otherwise bleeding-heart left-liberal programming about serious news that won’t directly get a cracker rich. As the rising tide of neoliberalism has swamped the rest of NPR in recent years, any interest in programming balance or variety became spurious as a justification for Marketplace. What little non-neoliberal programming is still on NPR is increasingly relegated to off hours, in the same manner that Coast to Coast AM and Perspectives with Lionel Osborne are safely confined to marginal parts of the AM.

Everybody’s welcome and his son is dead.

This particular Marketplace Morning Report segment wasn’t nearly so honest. It was about how Americans aren’t doing as well as economists would expect in such strong economic times. As always, the overpaid fuckers chatting about this stuff couldn’t imagine that the economic data were erroneous, too narrow, or bogus. A large percentage of the population getting by with no or very little savings is unmistakable evidence that whatever prosperity and stability there is in the country is not being shared widely at all. The numbers that they mentioned were pretty bleak, bleak enough to make me feel really damn lucky for having family backstopping and savings at all.

We’ve got a lot of broke-ass poor folk around here, just as we’d expect if we looked at the labor market and the attitudes of hiring managers with any intellectual perceptiveness. This isn’t the Sorrowful Mystery of the Passion; it’s just sorrowful, in a way that isn’t mysterious at all for those of us who don’t work at NPR. I know, I know, I was listening to it, so it must be for me, but think of me as an NPR hipster; it’s, like, my PBR, my dive bar, my wearing a bowler hat and a plain American Apparel T-shirt at work in a kebab shop in Echo Park like a fucking asshole because I somehow don’t see a problem with looking like I’m still in my underwear when I’m wearing a rich Englishman’s hat indoors. Do I sound like I listen to that shit earnestly?

The thing about this MMR piece (which will not, for better and worse, be followed up by an MMRBQ) wasn’t just that it lacked any self-awareness about the upper and upper-middle classes being responsible for the widespread economic malaise at the household level by doing everything in their power to drive wages for the classes beneath their own into the gutter. That much would have been merely a bit dense, a modest self-own on the part of a crowd that has always believed in self-ownership.

The really bad part, the creepy part, was the proposal of nudge theory IFL Behavioral Science Pavlovian policy tweaks to encourage savings, including entering people into prize competitions for opening savings accounts. This is exactly why workaday Americans, and the lower sorts of loafaday Americans, distrust soi-disant experts. They’re always adding insult to injury, in this case by condescending to people who flat-out cannot afford to put money aside for savings, and talking in public like they’re knowingly running society-wide psychological experiments that have not passed institutional review without the consent of the test subjects.

This shit is not far at all from some of the less lethal experiments that got Nazi scientists into trouble after the war. It gives off whiffs of Tuskegee. There are supposed to be institutional and legal safeguards in place against this kind of abuse, and yet it’s being discussed openly, shamelessly, on nationally syndicated radio programming. One World Government, Agenda 21, chemtrails, and similarly florid conspiracy theories start to make sense as attempts to process these elite attitudes that merely get some of the details wrong. The international collusion of neoliberal elites is a matter of public record. It isn’t exactly crazy to assert that elites that admit to using advanced psychological and behavioral programming techniques on the citizenry at large are also unscrupulous enough to deliberately poison the air with God knows what. FEMA camps aren’t necessarily any more grotesque than the current American penal state, which in some states exceeds the Soviet Gulag on a per capita incarceration basis and at least rivals it for human rights abuses. WHO DAT!

This entire regime is predicated on the mass degradation of the public. How else would anyone think it’s normal and not insulting to offer the chance at a prize as an inducement to open a savings account? That isn’t even a free toaster. I might be young, but I ain’t stupid enough to fall for that. In any healthy society, the usual reason to open a savings account would be, gee, I have some extra money sitting around that I don’t feel like leaving in my checking account or sewing into a mattress, and I like the idea of earning interest on it. Could the lack of interest (heh) in savings accounts have anything to do with interest rates being at historic lows? I earn 0.75% annual interest on my savings account. It’s better than nothing, but isn’t a hell of a lot. Good luck getting 1% APR on consumer credit, though. As private consumers, we still have to pay the bank 15-25% APR on outstanding balances, if not worse. Mortgage terms are somewhat more generous, but qualifying for a mortgage is a bitch.

Capital One cut my interest rate from 0.9% to 0.75% after I opened my account. If everything is about incentives and micronudges, why don’t I close the damn thing? Answer me, Gladwell. Are we seriously to believe that savings rates wouldn’t be higher at 4 or 5% annual interest returns? How is this sort of incentive, which is normal and not creepy, impossible but being entered into a contest to win some crappy prize for opening a savings account on uninspiring interest terms totally doable? What is this shit? Publisher’s Clearing House? No, that big check is worth big money. This shit is more like parish hall bingo with Lynn Rader.

Ooh, you’re thinking, she sounds sexy! Yes, he is. Sexy male code enforcement officer Lynn Rader memes are an improvement over any of the Pavlovian mass experiments the neoliberals have to offer. I make fun of another serially murderous creep on an F-List blog best known for a half-assed hot take on Arab failsons shitting on international rent girls (sometimes there’s nowhere to go but up; #KeepClimbing); neoliberalism makes fun of all of us while pretending to be acting in our best interests as our structural Mengele.

In this context, Donald Trump not talking and acting like a disingenuous Josef Mengele wannabe was an adequate selling point. His deal was basically, look, I’ma go fun a bunch of the creeps who keep trying to run the Milgram experiment on you guys, and I’ll sandbag them if they try to mess with you again, and wow, this is a really cool fire truck, magnificent, really elegant machine. The five seconds that he isn’t wowed by the fire truck are enough to show that his heart is in the right place, or at least in a less wrong place than Hillary Clinton’s. We’ve seen what she does with her laser focus. We’ve seen what her fellow travelers do.

The class aspect here is deliberately hidden, but it’s very real. Do Tom Friedman and Megan McArdle live under this regime? Of course not. This regime is for the little people. McMegan gets paid to write about how we’re too sensitive to the victims of the Grenfell Fire and put too many regulations in place in an effort just to keep them from dying prematurely in raging apartment fires. No amount of driveling, bigoted idiocy will get the shitbirds who talk the story of neoliberalism fired and replaced by H-1B’s who just graduated from communications programs in Bangalore or Guadalajara. The experiments aren’t being run on them; they’re exempt. How fucking convenient.

This piece at Dissention is spot on: “Neoliberalism works only as long it operates in a command-control type of socio-economic-legal environment.” It’s painfully obvious that the incumbent elites are not approaching us as free citizens making free decisions in a free market. No one normal and healthy wants to be a customer in a regime that tries to get the broke to open savings accounts by entering them into penny-ante prize drawings after dispossessing them from the opportunities that used to be available, more or less for the asking, to earn a living wage doing stable work.

It’s striking, too, that the amount of red tape needed to keep this regime running, to operate its elaborate mechanisms of monitoring, reward, and punishment, would fatally choke any small business operating without access to unlimited below-market capital and would hobble large businesses operating in a free market. I’ve often wondered, for example, when Panera will finally collapse under its own dead weight. Panera has efficient kitchen lines putting together dishes developed by some exceptionally talented test chefs in clean, well-lit, well-maintained facilities, but I can swear sometimes that the entire chain is on the verge of choking on its own corporate horseshit, and I can’t help but wonder when its customers, even its most safe-for-work bourgeois corporatist customers, will either run out of the discretionary income to spend on that joint or get fed up with the fucking muzak and clip art. Watching a new hire half-attentively watch a training video in the kitchen with no one from floor management present forced me to move the projected failure date up by years, but as they say, only the Father knows the day and the hour.

Great place to go looking for Democratic voters, though.

There was a third piece on Morning Edition this morning that I didn’t think to include until just now, about sin taxes making the poor spend more of their income on cigarettes and claim federal food stamps more frequently. States’ rights, bitch. This third piece was, surprisingly, not creepy. It was the only bit of humility I was able to readily discern this morning. It admitted, without defensiveness, that smokers want their damn smokes and will make whatever third party they can find, in this case the feds, reimburse them for the jacked-up price of their cancer sticks as imposed by their state and municipal governments. It implied, more than openly enough for me to stop denigrating NPR’s morals for a full paragraph, that socialism is a viable way to pay for the costs of neoliberalism. Personally, I don’t smoke and consider cigarettes super gross, but between Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg and the Smoking Chair, I’ll take the Smoking Chair every time. The purpose of whatever ungodly amount cigarettes cost in New York City is to punish the poor and fob tax costs off onto them so that elected officials don’t have to stand up to affluent voters in a state of apoplectic tax revolt. We might well never have heard of Eric Garner if classy crackers like Don Draper were still smoking that shit.

Spend twenty minutes listening to All Things Considered this afternoon and you, too, can be Icarus.

The awful pain of giving a shit

My problem is that I give a shit. I keep getting this gnawing feeling that I still owe my maybe current, maybe former bosses something in spite of the way Mother-in-Law treated us the other day, that I still owe agriculture something, that I owe society additional productivity in spite of work conditions that were, ethically and legally, blatant grounds for summary resignation with cause.

I’d expect to be fired if I got so hostile towards anyone from a position as a subordinate employee. Employers are under no obligation to retain crazy, volatile assholes, and I objectively owe jack diddly to employers who turn into crazy, volatile assholes without warning or are even reluctantly complicit in such aggression. It is a problem that the other owners of the company fail to confront Mother-in-Law during her tirades and put a stop to them. They fail in their own duties to us as employees by failing to intervene.

To wax Godwinian, they’re akin to all the knowledgeable and suspicious parties who failed to blow the whistle on Our Lord’s Servant Gerald for his Era of Bad Feeling. WE ARE! The stuff that’s had me so worked up isn’t Sandusky shit, but it should never come close to the Sandusky shit. “Oh, well, it isn’t child rape” isn’t cause to say and do nothing.

Even so, I keep thinking that I’m not doing what I should to deal with MiL’s misconduct, to keep calm and carry on while she really carries on. I keep thinking that I’m failing myself by not doing what I should be doing to advance myself professionally at a job where I earn maybe $4.50 an hour on a good day. Good things are supposed to come to those who put in the effort, and this is a job where I normally don’t mind putting in some serious effort. Even if I’m making peanuts, it’s better than nothing, and I stay busy.

The problem, of course, is shit fits like the one Mother-in-Law inflicted on us the other day. I absolutely, unapologetically need leverage on her and her relatives over abuses like that. I need to be able and willing to take adverse action against them that will, or at least may, register and cause an oh-shit moment of reflection on their part. Driving off the property while shaking my head at MiL in disgust was a start. She’s obviously operating in an arrogant, deranged headspace to think that that sort of behavior is remotely acceptable. Careful there; you’ll break your neck if you shove your head that hard up your own ass.

I have to question the responsibility of Daughter-in-Law and the other co-owners, too, for not putting a stop to this shit one way or another. I get that they’re in an awkward, tricky position, but it’s on them as business owners and crew bosses, too. They’re in business with a relative who won’t stop lashing out at employees in ways that are intolerable, scandalous, and liable to get them all sued. They’re caving in the face of a walking liability because of who she is. We come back to Our Lord Joseph and Our Lord’s Servant Gerald. An engineering professor would have been given no such latitude to commit serial child rape, and his department chair would have been given no such latitude to cover it up. WE ARE–A REPUTABLE ENGINEERING SCHOOL, TOO!, but #ENGINEERING! ain’t #FOOTBALL!

That reminds me: I still haven’t dialed up what Scott Simon, Howard Bryant, and/or Tom Goldman had to say about Aaron Hernandez’s career-ending neck injury, pursuant to #SPORTS. Things keep getting in the way, things including recurrent references to Aaron Hernandez’s career-ending neck injury. I did, however, listen to the full broadcast this morning, pursuant to #WINNING.

Honestly, I’m thankful that I’ve gotten some extra rest yesterday and today. It can be damn hard work. Of course, the mental energy needed to deal with a preventable, needless, inexcusable managerial crisis unilaterally provoked by a business owner who refuses to show basic self-restraint and professional civility in her dealings with employees is no joke, either.

If one actually thinks about such things and takes them seriously, that is. The Ditzney Princess doesn’t give a shit. She doesn’t care about farm work, about doing a good job, about becoming the least bit mature as she careens towards puberty, about cultivating any sort of discipline that might enable her to function in the workplace and other adult settings. She doesn’t betray any understanding that the kind of work she’s doing, or allegedly doing, is necessary to society and civilization and that doing a bad job at it might have bad consequences, like not having anything to eat. Conversely, she is too fucking ignorant and clueless and intellectually incurious to consider the possibility that Mother-in-Law’s workplace behavior is abnormal. She’s there because her parents made her get a job, and jobs are where your boss tells you what to do and stuff.

To be a bit overwrought and tasteless, at Penn State that includes covering up serial child rape by a football coach. The general principle here is that there are unlawful orders and that they are not magically made lawful by their delivery by an authority figure. These could include orders to cover up sex crimes, to cook the company books, to use unethical sales tactics, to put up with workplace harassment, to work off the clock. Books have been written about such cases, which are many. Butterfly in the sky! I can fly twice as high! Take a look! It’s in a book, possibly one by Jeffrey Toobin, who totally enjoys reading, rainbows, and fursonas.

McGrilled chicken sandwich deal, bitch. Also, “Mark Furman.”

This isn’t to say that it’s totally the best thing ever to quit a job impulsively just because one is momentarily le annoyed. But that isn’t really what provokes most summary resignations. There is a huge amount of bad managerial behavior, much of which employees endure with extreme, even saintly, patience. There is a horrifying variety of ethically questionable or outright unlawful demands made of employees in their new hire paperwork and bad managerial behaviors formalized in written corporate policies. This is in addition to the large number of jobs that just pay shit and basically suck ass. It takes an awfully modest conception of a career to consider the Burger King fry line a fucking career. It’s reputable work, a way to be of service to customers and to society and to make some kind of living, but America’s hash slingers are given nothing that cries out to be reciprocated with unwavering, joyous loyalty. Even store management, a significant improvement over part-time fry-jockeying, isn’t a particularly compelling career.

There are things that employers can do to overcome many of the natural problems with menial work. Daughter-in-Law gets this. Mother-in-Law sometimes gets it. The problem is when she stops getting it. They’re able to significantly compensate for their poor compensation (if that possibly makes the sense that it shouldn’t) by being decent to us, not hounding us, and making the job as enjoyable and low-pressure as it can be. That isn’t what MiL did the other day, when I decided that she was out of mulligans to demand uncompensated duty hours of us.

The Ditzney Princess doesn’t give a shit about any of this because she doesn’t get it. The possibility that confessing Christian relatives can have serious behavioral problems doesn’t cross her mind. She’s childish and idiotic enough to think that work totally sucks if it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops and some white knight on a white horse gently blowing a rainbow up her ass, but when it comes to family values, she’s a piece of fucking performance art about the K-Love audience. For some reason, thinking about horses has gotten me thinking about Kwesi Millington, whom we might call a dark knight. I’m operating at a level that the Ditzney Princess can’t even imagine, and it’s a really low, degraded level, the one at which I admit that I’d sooner trust Northside Juice to get any of the children in my life through horsemanship lessons alive and intact than Sauce Boss not to fall off his own horse blind drunk and drown in a creek. Maintiens le droit!

The Vancouver Linemen are still on the line for extreme canucksploitation, but Mother-in-Law doesn’t seem to be on the line for nearly enough. Anyone who acts like she does should be relieved not to get sued. Hell, anyone who assents to that sort of behavior on the part of peers should be relieved not to be sued. I’m talking about things that shouldn’t happen even once, when I can count four to six incidents in the same patterns of unacceptable behavior.

The weird, almost poignant thing, is that there is no financial compensation MiL or anyone else can provide to make me whole. I don’t expect to make anything close to a real living working for her. A higher piece rate would be great, but poor pay was never my real objection to the way that joint is run. As I mentioned above, the owners are able to compensate for that by treating us well. What the continuing lecture series and mandatory berry tasting the other day illustrated is that the Landlady giveth and the Landlady taketh away. What she has taken away from me this week cannot realistically be recovered at law. If an ADM manager, say, had cheated me out of my wages, I’d be able to put a lawyer on the company and go, okay, you guys really fucked up, so you’re buying me a house. I can’t get back wasted days and weeks from a headcase who arbitrarily decides to stop being decent and professional with her employees. I can’t take her to court and force her to restore a working professional relationship with me. Mother-in-Law is deranged enough about her own blamelessness as a small business owner that I doubt I’d get anywhere good by speaking to her personally and pleading with her to just get out of our way as a crew when she’s floundering into a bad mood and let us do the work we came to her property to do.

This is a situation that has no remedy. There are worse ones involving physical injury, paralysis, maiming, even death, and thank God I’ve suffered nothing of the sort. Knowing this helps keep things in perspective, but this whole mess is still troubling. Blowing the whistle to regulators over the child welfare situation and the off-the-clock duty demands might limit the abuses and deter recurrences, but I’d still be dealing with a practically impossible boss who makes work impossible for her employees whenever she’s having emotional difficulties. There’s no telling what kind of shit could hit the fan upon MiL’s removal from supervisory authority over pickers; I find it all too easy to imagine the resulting family fight throwing the entire company into a Chapter 7 tailspin. I feel bad about depriving the family of my labor during a critical harvest period, but the moral burden here frankly is not on me, and I’m a pushover to even fleetingly think that I should shoulder any of it. I’m not the one who recklessly throws workplaces fits that have the potential to cause terminal operational chaos. Even if I’d stayed on the job the other day, the crew would have lost a couple of man-hours just repositioning and being lectured and humiliated, plus however long it would have taken the more rattled pickers to recover and refocus on their work.

I don’t realistically expect viable referrals to other employers from that family. There’s a good chance that they’re fuming about how I’ve been out burning bridges, and I have to assume that everyone MiL and her husband know socially is unprofessional and mentally ill. Remember, MiL is how I came to know the Ditzney Princess, and I’ve heard what both of them have had to say about church. This is prejudice on my part, not bigotry. I’m familiar with the sort of church that they attend. It’s a reservoir for the overtly maladjusted, chaotic, and mentally ill. It’s a place where everyone’s social, behavioral, and emotional problems are visitations of the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen this movie before. It’s the religious tradition of assortative communion. Ascribed religious affiliation was bullshit (the Republican Party at prayer, etc.), but under assortative communion, the individual congregant has to abide by that ancient Justin Bieber hymn and go and sort himself. (There’s no need to go to Depot to become an unmentionable Canadian. Colonel Williams, your thoughts?)

One of the earliest virtues I discerned in the Roman Catholic Church was that it does not cater to the mentally disordered in denial and preferentially recruit them into its clergy. A conversation with Mixups in my Mind or Psychotarp is spiritual, too, as it includes a host of spirits. As a street ministry, it’s usually annoying and enlightening on how I’d earn decent money to listen to the same horseshit as a social worker. The last thing I need is social and professional entanglement with people who normalize behavior that isn’t a hell of a lot more encouraging than what I’d expect of those two fuckers. The not blatantly psychotic standard falls short, as they say, of the glory.

No, maybe it is the glory. My work life has certainly been awesome in the original sense of the term. Think about a congregation in which two of the members are Mother-in-Law and the Ditzney Princess. If that isn’t one big-ass congregation, you’ve got a math problem. The berry farm staff would hardly fill a pew, and as we’ve been discussing, we definitely have a problem. I know some ocean lifeguards in Orange County; they make Mother-in-Law look like she’s on furlough from Bellevue. The market rate for tutoring, life-coaching, and/or babysitting brats like the Ditzney Princess in Aliso Viejo is probably thirty to fifty an hour. Some of them have hot mothers. I’m not against a Stacy’s Mom lifestyle in which I’m hired to run a futile campaign to keep some Corona Del Mar MILF’s brat from maturing (sic) into a colossal fuckup, but that isn’t my network. My network is the one we’ve been cataloging in recent disgustions.

If that’s my tribe, God help me. ISB isn’t factually wrong: I am not becoming quality by surrounding myself with low quality. I’d like to not be a crass piece of shit about it, but if the principle can be separated from a fixation on $14,000 wristwatches, he’s onto something. Am I cursed to associate with such people? No, it’s worse than that. Am I cursed to associate with them from a subordinate position because they run all the businesses? It’s like I’m trying to live out a Bruce Springsteen runaway’s ballad and Rodriguez keeps showing up to tell me, no, son, I’m the one singing your song.

From this perspective, it may be prudent not to surround myself with MiL and the Ditzney Princess because I’m on cordial terms with a number of baristas who are better quality than that. Like, woman, you’re insane and I have to assume based on your hiring decisions that your social calls and resulting business contacts are exclusively with the fellow insane.

Reach out and smack me if I ever start sounding like Garrison Keillor when I complain about towns full of losers. Keep me honest if I ever take on pretensions of being a treacly wholesome motherfucker. I’m not against small towns and small business on principle, but if I keep running into this kind of shit, my stance may change. At this point, I’d mainly like to find employers who aren’t out of their damn minds, not that MiL has leads on any. I’m not sure that I’m done for good with her, but to misappropriate one of my Atlantic City reality television whores, I ain’t Captain Save-a-Boss. I can’t save a boss. Man, it ain’t easy bein’ a boss, now.

Not too damn easy having one, either, come to think of it.

 

Because I’m not Superman

Sacramento was deserted this afternoon. The light rail system and just about every neighborhood that I saw around downtown were depopulated to the extent normal in a small college town during summer break. The normal people–the ones who are able to actually run things and keep useful eyes on the street–had fled for the hills (I’d just seen them by the thousands on my way down from Truckee), leaving behind a small, useless rump of the shifty incompetent. As Jesus pointed out, pursuant to #TeshTips, the poor we will have with us always, but in this case there was hardly a soul but the low-functioning poor.

It turned out to be a great day to smell the men’s room in Safeway from a dozen feet outside in the hallway because someone had left a gigantic pile of shit festering in one of the toilets, unflushed and not my business (heh) to flush. I ended up telling a spergy dipshit to leave me the hell alone after she wouldn’t shut up about how she had taken three pairs of socks with her because she had been thinking about going to the gym, but had missed her stop at 48th Street for Trader Joe’s but ended up getting a better deal at the Co-Op, and by the way why can’t we see the train yet when it’s due in five minutes. I hardly kept the salt out of my mouth explaining to this dumbass that the line of sight was limited by a viaduct, which should have been bloody obvious; it was only after I shooed her away that I realized how short the lines of sight are on most of the RT light rail system and what a fucking doofus this woman must have been not to have any sense of it as a regular light rail rider.

The merely crazy yelling and gesturing on the same block face as my mailbox are hardly worth mentioning in a context like today’s, but I had the displeasure of making sure that one of them didn’t have the opportunity to muscle his way into the lobby behind me, too. I didn’t really expect him to be that aggressive, but I wasn’t entirely sure, so I played it safe, hustled the fuck right in, and closed the door behind me the second I was over the threshold. It wasn’t a good time to assume that his world wouldn’t intersect with mine; probably not isn’t probable enough.

I crossed the street to get away from a group of street people who had set up camp on next to the light rail line between 30th and Alhambra, too, but that was just to spare myself a needless pain in the ass. I didn’t feel acutely threatened by them, but I also didn’t want to get dragged into bullshit with them and their pit bull. Why do these motherfuckers always have pit bulls? This crew’s particular dog looked all right, but I don’t believe for a hot second that that’s why they got it. They wanted to look badass.

I sometimes get the feeling that such people lack an awful lot more than just money. Not all poor, mind you; some are just plainly indigent and can’t catch a break. Conversely, Lord knows there are plenty of yuppie bitches who have pit bulls and cool stories about how pit bulls totally don’t have a proclivity towards anger management problems as a breed. An occasional male manifestation of the same impulse is Huntington Beach’s white riots; the guys behind that shit act practically like street urchins but have included tradesmen and at least one professional fireman. It’s a tricky thing to calibrate, but there’s something to be said for the normative broad middle class reasserting itself and ceasing to indulge public displays of aggression. Ideally, this would include police forces putting a stop to street fights and beach brawls by bodily separating the combatants and flooding the zone until they’ve reestablished unmistakable peace.

We’re nowhere fucking near any of that, in case you’ve been getting all hopeful. Instead, we’re led by a lot of people who still fancy pit bulls animals of great authenticity, not ones that ought to be pedigreed to disprove all connections to Michael Vick. Love too violate bourgeois norms that my dog won’t bite your toddler’s head off.

What bothers me about this shit isn’t so much that it endures as that I keep ending up being the only normie on the streets who’s stuck facing it. Everyone else from a halfway stable and healthy background gets the fuck out of Dodge and leaves me to navigate a human hellscape on my own. Then, when I try to report back about the horror shows that I’ve witnessed, they act like I’m blowing everything out of proportion or plumb out of my mind. That’s just not true. When I’m the only person on a block or within sight in an entire neighborhood who isn’t overtly disturbed, high, drunk, or sauntering around like a Chino yardie, there is no wider perspective. That’s the full extent of what’s happening.

I forgot earlier that a nutcase opened one of the light rail doors using the emergency exit lever, forcing the operator to walk to the back of the train and reset the door. We lost five minutes to this wacko. He seemed lucid when he apologized to the onboard security officer, even though two minutes earlier he had looked totally nuts to me, so I don’t think he was all there.

When some shit like that goes down, should I really make believe that I’m in Fair Oaks or Land Park? No. That would be stone nuts. Broadening my perspective to include the world’s fun stuff would put me at risk of ignoring emergencies unfolding in my very midst. I sleep in my car precisely to avoid this shit: sheer geography keeps it at bay from my rest areas. Peers from my native class act like I should just move somewhere nicer, but I’m pretty well priced out of that, and I don’t think it’s impertinent of me to say so; after all, I’m far from the only person who’s been fucked over by the bifurcation of the housing market into redlined gentrification zones and slumlord hell. Let’s not talk about it? No, how about let’s talk about it. How about y’all listen to someone who hasn’t been drinking the Kool-Aid for a change?

How bad am I saying that this stuff gets? For a few weeks in 2010, I was afraid that the manager of my apartment building might murder me. I’m absolutely not kidding. It was just a gut feeling, nothing that I could very well take to the police, but the guy scared the hell out of me. His name was Virgil L. Anderson, Jr., of Eureka, CA, an ex-Army Ranger who bragged about unilaterally evicting tenants. He was paranoid, possibly to a clinical extent. At one point he followed me onto the street as I was leaving the building and accosted me with questions about whether I was running a criminal enterprise in my apartment. This was how he dealt with noise complaints that other tenants had made against me. I assumed that he kept guns and ammunition in his apartment and that he had killed people in combat, and he had atrocious boundary problems (a few months later, he asked me to act in loco parentis for an adult child of his who was staying with him), so I didn’t have to extrapolate very far to imagine him committing violent crimes against me. Since he was ex-military, and also just because he hardly had a grip on himself, I twice wrote to his superiors and threatened to have him arrested the next time he got weird with me. It was totally seat-of-the-pants.

Situations like this are a lot more common than the bourgeoisie dares imagine. I swear to God and will swear before any court of law that that happened to me as I described it. That isn’t the only time I’ve lived around people who were threatening my physical safety, either; look through the archives here. And in my experience, there’s no just bouncing back from these things. Just think about how crazy it sounds to say that one felt in danger of homicide at the hands of a building manager with a clean criminal record and in the absence of explicit or fully articulable threats. This is one hell of a mess to try to explain. It takes more money than I usually have to even temporarily buy one’s way out of such a bind, but it’s an amount of money that the bourgeoisie has, either in cash or in credit. Where does that leave the lower classes? Well, I count myself extremely lucky to sleep at rest areas instead of rescue missions and to be able to afford lodging on a regular basis, so that’s one indication.

Is it worth having people think that I’m psychotic as a consequence of my airing this shit? Probably. In my case, I’ve got the full legal name and municipal e-mail address of the guy leading the comment thread campaign to accuse me of maybe having a major mental illness. Brezhnev had his dissidents institutionalized and drugged, and I don’t think I’m too far off base or Godwinian to make the comparison. The upper middle class in this country just will not fucking listen to anyone beneath its station in life. There are exceptions, but they’re mostly exceptions that prove the rule. I try to think over how to integrate the poor into something closer to a socioeconomic mainstream, with their lived experiences so dramatically different from those of the higher classes, but I hardly get anywhere. I know people who have never set foot in a laundromat; how in all hell is that divide to be bridged?

In a sense, I’m here to tell some of the rest of you who aren’t high achievers that you’re not alone. That can be construed psychotically, too, and frankly I’m starting to enjoy the idea. If it’s actually our lot, we might as well have some damn fun with it.

One of my problems is that I’ve latched onto a municipal clusterfuck as my nominal place of domicile. I was downtown today to check on my mail and my capitol plants. I lives here, Mr. O’Rourke; can I come in? As far as the light rail thing goes, I’m not about to be scared off an entire transit system just because most of its other riders basically suck. I believe in public transit and I generally enjoy public transit. Yeah, I know, Gandhi made me take the trolley, to be the change I want to see in the world and shit. And I got here on probably one of the five worst days of the year; most of the time the nice parts of Sacramento aren’t evacuated like Chernobyl.

Still, Sacramento does an amazing job of transcending its own physical beauty. There are too goddamn many yuppies here, and the some of the worst kinds. Fuck the Kings. $534 million was dumped into the downtown arena at a time when homeless encampments were floating human waste and hypodermic needles into Discovery Park every time the river rose. This town is paradise until you look a little closer. The priorities here are something out of late Imperial Rome. Darrell Steinberg doesn’t keep getting badgered about the homelessness crisis during public comment periods at city council meetings because his constituents are boors or cranks; they’re upset about a genuine crisis that no one is really addressing because, hey, look at dem ballers.

I keep hearing from various sources about how Salt Lake City has functionally eliminated chronic homelessness with its housing first program. Some of these sources are too critical to take PR copy from anyone at face value. That’s what’s happening in a Mormon cultural context. What’s happening in Sacramento, under whatever incoherent, intellectually dishonest mishmash of neoliberal talking points the local political class takes for its cultural philosophy, isn’t a hell of a lot. Much of the political class has left ministry to the homeless to Sister Karen at Loaves and Fishes. Ain’t that grand: we’ve got half a billion plus in public and private money for a new baller palace, but feeding and rehousing the hardcore indigent is the responsibility of the town nun. There are public social services around here, but half a billion in extra funds would pay for a hell of a lot more social services, even if the money were spent wastefully. That’s a tremendous misallocation regardless of the sources. I don’t want to hear a peep from anyone involved in the private sector part of that scam about being a philanthropist.

A tangential question that I have about the $223 million public portion of the construction costs that the City of Sacramento covered is what that money could have done to stave off Regional Transit fare increases or boost service levels. Luxury basketball arena money should be the bottom priority after the transit system has been unsucked, the homeless have been set up with seamless transitional housing for the asking, and probably a lot of other things that escape me at the moment. Not having bats infesting walk-up SRO’s is one. I haven’t checked in on whether that’s been cleaned up yet.

I wouldn’t have a damn thing to do with this town if it weren’t such a horticultural wonderland. Still, Napoleon, you gotta lend us the liger, man. We’re hurting over here.

Institutionalization

Is there some natural law dictating that all the yuppies and entrepreneurs and wannabes must read Tom Friedman? To posit the existence of such a shitty natural law dictating the reading of such shitty writing is, well, shitty. One should hope that the natural aristocracy or whatever the fuck it is that leads us would read something of some minimal redeeming intellectual and literary value, that it would keep in its hearts the curiosity and the love of beauty necessary to seek out reading material  that doesn’t totally suck ass. Only a certifiable Mark David Chapman would try to read even all the good essay writing that can be found on the internet. There are magazines and books, too, of course, even though the Insurance Schmuck never thought in the library in terms of books. (Sic, and powerfully so.)

At the same time, we can prove conclusively that books are unjustifiably fetishized as a medium, invested with hallucinated powers that they do not inherently possess, whenever some yuppie–say, the Insurance Schmuck over the weekend–openly impresses himself with his own educational self-improvement for reading the latest full-length Friedmanism. When I stumble into such artistically and intellectually wretched horseshit online, I close the damn tab. It isn’t just Anthony Weiner’s junk shots that pollute the ether; I must adult my way around even worse e-boners.

As the Last Psychiatrist always enjoyed putting it, if you’re reading it, it’s for you. That’s a bleak fucking natural law argument right there. The Insurance Schmuck is reading it, so it must be for him. Time and time again, we accidentally disprove the existence of American liberal arts curricula. Remember, these courses of instruction are supposedly ordered to giving their students the tools for life-long autodidactic edification and their liberation from slavery to full-time philistinism. But yeah, about that. We stayed in school, but good God, Starr, what is it good for? What kind of dimwitted Levar Burton-ass second-grade summer book report bollocks is any of this? *Very Vermont faculty vealpen voice* I’m Meat E. Urologist Steve Maleski, with an eye on the butterfly in the sky!

I’m listening to that, so VPR, too, must be for me. Or for my parents. Their car, their discretion (mostly) about CKM or no CKM. At least the North Country doesn’t have its own Devin Yamanaka. Hey there, Ed. What else is going on? Hey there, Devin. We know by now that Vermonters are a bit off, but maybe they aren’t actually all that insane. *Resume less irregular programming* Rob Thomas has more insight into his own condition, to be fair, but at least the Eye on the Sky eccentrics aren’t in it to rule the entire fucking world. That isn’t why one moves to Vermont. Just look at what the coastal elites did the last time one of its senators tried to run for the presidency. There’s some dumbass crunchy bullshit you can stumble into in them-thar Brahmin hills, but all in all it’s pretty modest. It’s probably wise not to rule out the possibility that bougie flatlanders were not feeling the Bern because they disliked the idea of a legit Brooklyner wandering away and starting his career in Vacationland at the age of forty.

Less time reading Moustache-Senpai might mean more time in danger of wandering down internet rabbit holes into comprehensive conspiracy theories about the Jews. The conspiracy theories can sound disturbing with a myopic focus on the strong shanda minority; they become almost cute when one compares two prominent Jews who couldn’t conspire their way into a conspiracy on where to get lunch. (((They))) pretty clearly weren’t looking to boost non-Lawrence parts of the Tribe last year, or they would have made noise during the primaries about voting for the guy from the shtetl family done good and not voting for the crazy shiksa carpetbagger. If a D-Lister like Roissy is a self-loathing Jew, it’s probably because the serious Money Jews are too busy throwing their coethnic class traitors under the bus to have time for antisemitism. A scorned coattail-riding woman like Hillary Clinton certainly doesn’t have any shame about selectively playing up her own elite philosemitism in one breath and having proxies deploy antisemitic talking points of varying virulence against Bernie Sanders in the next, and the serious Jewish social climbers are too busy waging perpetual class warfare to indulge in ethnic solidarity with some Fiddler on the Roof-ass antediluvian street-corner socialist who worked odd jobs through his thirties. Bernie doesn’t have a problem being authentic and consistent, but Abuela must be all things to all peoples in all languages, a profane Apostle Paul, and the rest of us must not notice her baggage. Or, as the Ethiopian bus driver might say if she were so vulgar as to travel like a peasant by common carrier through Martinez, wow, she has a lot of stuffs.

The assortative intellectual intercourse here is uncanny. Hey, I just said “intercourse.” Giggity. Watch out for the resulting bastard mindspawn. To this day the Hillary campaign is a lodestone for the same endlessly grasping yuppie horseshit as the Tom Friedman library. The most obvious difference is that Friedman superficially has better manners, so his promoters don’t have to maintain an elaborate, painstaking conceit that he’s fit for polite society. Instead, they maintain a more tacit conceit that he’s almost apolitical. His supposed bailiwick isn’t political argument (his actual line of work (fairly sic)) but the rational presentation of stone-cold economic truths. If Fukuyama was fit to play Taps for history, he might as well be commissioned to dust off the bugle and play it again for the unorthodox alternatives to the neoliberal globalist order. This is one of the reasons why Donald Trump was almost far enough to the left to win my vote: we had a bunch of bumptious assholes running around in a raging snit because they hadn’t given him permission to rain on their parade with his ADHD comments promising renewed protectionism. To riff on the end of history again, all industrial policy other than the abolition of all tariffs in response to mass-casualty garment district fires in Bangladesh is communism now. #TheMoreYouKnow.

Friedman isn’t retained to write honest commentary in good faith. He’s retained to write Bildungsromans, with an emphasis on the fictional aspects of his work. Why the fuck is it problematic for you or me to argue by anecdote when that shifty, overcaffeinated fucker always has some tendentious story about how his one cabbie in Bangalore listens to Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear or some shit, QED the earth is flat? My bad: more like Britney Spears. Why is that dimwitted bastard given bottomless mulligans to misconstrue at book length offhand comments he squeezed out of some CEO by cornering him for six hours straight on a flight to Hong Kong? If that’s valid, my high-volume ridicule of Sauce Boss and the Night Shift Shock Jocks, aka Northside Juice and the Shady Blues, construed also to include Raw Ginger and Fish Man, is beyond reproach. White Lives Matter, too, friends. The real source of my fifteen minutes of fame, Dubai Porta Potty, is unbelievably disgusting, but its source materials are attributed credibly enough for a Friedman column.

Can you see now why there are people who distrust the news media?

Tom Friedman is actually one of the less self-discrediting eminences accreted to the yuppie project. Sure, he was put on this earth to comfort the comfortable, but he does so in a way that aggrandizes salesmen, and Amway is as much the American Way as any other way. Mustache-Senpai is barely too political, depending on the store manager, to be sold at FedEx Office. Most sales cultures are fucking gross, but they have staying power. The Democrats inevitably dropped this ball by being ambivalent about the Glengarry Glen Ross #WINNING in the face of soi-disant dealmaker Donald Trump, but Friedman potentially still gives them some cover by being such an anodyne, unprincipled piece of shit who basically sucks corporate cock for a living.

The really bad optics come from just about everything else about the yuppies, especially the establishment Democrats among them. Hillary Clinton on her own was sufficiently over the top to bring the censoriousness and the preening superiority of every yuppie shithead orbiting her into stark relief. She was the vehicle by which the globalists and the yuppies working for them, or hoping to work for them, planned to maintain their vise grip on international politics. That’s enough to cast some harsh illumination on Friedman’s bogus rationality and transcendence of day-to-day politics. The Clintons really do tarnish everything that they touch. Friedman is fairly tangential to them, but he’s close enough to look worse by association.

The same crowd that laps up America’s worst syndicated newspaper columns seems to think that the TED Radio Hour will actually win over the hearts and minds of normal people. This is insane, and it’s another reason to turn off the damn radio. Anyone whose local NPR affiliate rebroadcasts even a third hour of Weekend Edition Saturday should cherish that above rubies, no matter how often I struggle to get my own ass up before noon. Here’s this nigh humorless, utterly joyless lecture series with just about the most atrocious aesthetics on public radio (I’m aware of the in-house competition, and yes, it’s that bad), hosted by an excruciatingly bloodless dork, and devoted to the aggrandizement of an audience that’s smug as all hell and lately quite upset that it has been denied its right, as the possessors of its degrees and its supreme rationality, to rule the whole wide world, a world that it instead must share with trade protectionists, the devoutly religious, antivaxxers, Alex Jones followers, Americans who aren’t up in arms with the Kremlin, and similar trash. Listening to a bunch of smug pricks intone through a haze of terrible auditorium acoustics about how rational they are and how fucking irrational and backwards their political enemies are, it’s hard not to imagine the audience becoming increasingly irritated, even furious, at the extension of the franchise to uneducated, ignorant losers who won’t get with their program.

Now, look at it this way: there are almost certainly TED speakers and audience members alike who would find it unconscionable for Donald Trump to make fun of them, who would think that there either is or absolutely should be some political price for an oaf like him to pay for ridiculing their dork squad. This is how powerfully idiotic the Democratic Party has become. It’s run by people who have sheltered themselves from the mainstream popular culture of their own country that they don’t realize how marginal NPR is to the general population or how hideously patronizing the TED Radio Hour is, even for NPR. This shit makes Marco Werman seem like a fairly self-aware nerd, and far be it from me to deny that he’s a grating, simpering little twit. That fucker sounds like he worked his way up from a ham radio license and public-access television, so it’s a bad sign when his own colleagues start making him sound like he has force of personality. But that’s the kind of thing that happens when a network doesn’t exile an annoying mediocrity like Guy Raz to El Centro.

These idiots think they’re gonna out-lecture Donald Trump. They’re that full of themselves. Every time they fall flat on their faces, they blame other people for being too backwards and uneducated to get it. Just yesterday I heard part of a TED segment in which some dipshit was talking about how the Russians use some kind of advanced mind-control technique to plant foreign ideas in their enemies’ minds. It was blatant projection: of course the Hillbots are doing basically the same thing. Putin hires offices full of trolls and sock puppets, but so does the Pentagon, and so did David Brock with his “virgin nerd army.” Not much of this shit is subtle enough to go over readers’ heads, especially when a prominent strategist explicitly compares the organization of his corporatized political campaign to a beehive. Yeah, sure, it’s the damn Russkies who sank Clinton, not voters who didn’t want to live in a Lorde song. Maybe we can blame the Kremlin for the “Our Thoughts Go Out To The Ceausescu Family, Sad Day For Nicolae” pop-up clickbait articles. That would be embarrassing.

Maybe the Democrats are so worked up about propaganda because their affluent members have already submitted to propaganda and censored themselves for purposes of career advancement. Bill Clinton, traditionally not one to abase himself, was somehow buffaloed into delivering a hideously sappy convention speech about how he and Hillary “are still having that conversation.” Initially I wondered if he hadn’t been extorted or blackmailed, but these days I tend to think that he just stopped giving a shit. The Big Dog knows how to game chicks, but Hillz wasn’t one of the bimbos he was looking to dick, and that wasn’t the first time (Gennifer Flowers much?). It was probably easier for him to be steamrolled by his crazy bitch of a wife and her staff into delivering that wretched, smarmy, platitudinous speech and then fly off on the Lolita Express or whatever than to try to pass the old lady’s shit tests.

I suspect that that cringeworthy incident spoke less to Bill’s fall from charm than to the Democrats’ collective descent into an ever shittier zeitgeist. That’s the kind of crap that they presumably think will actually appeal to the base and win elections, if we’re idealistic enough to assume that the whole operation isn’t just a big grift for consultant-class shysters. The talented tenth, to the extent that it’s a numerical tenth and has legitimate talents, seems to get some bizarre, sublimated psychosexual edification from this increasingly elaborate cult of court etiquette, and meanwhile I’m not sleeping my car this week. Substitute other experiences not suitable for discussion in neoliberal circles to taste. This faction is apparently sheltered and arrogant enough to actually think that it will somehow be able to brightside dissidents into silence and political impotence.

Hence all the rage at Trump, the worst Republican from the 2016 field who could have challenged them. Most of the others respected their precious court etiquette. Trump had the nerve to throw memberberries at the poor. Sure, South Park is fun, but it isn’t just entertainment to push a man down, kick him repeatedly, and then make fun of him for his nostalgia for the old days when he wasn’t being pushed down and kicked. The yuppies alienate their victims just by blowing off steam. Really fucking smart.

In this context, Trump isn’t really that far out of line. The reason he angers yuppies by being insensitive is that he makes fun of various cherished institutions and the incumbents running them. He talked over Hillary. He brags about his fin-dom plans for corporations that offshore American jobs. He brags about fin-dom plans for NATO that have no bearing on how NATO members’ defense obligations are actually structured, but he looks good doing it because it allows him to highlight yet another instance of his opponents caring more about the welfare of foreigners than that of Americans. He shits on the court etiquette. The shrillest complaints about his ugly comments about minorities (e.g., Muslims) come from blatant hypocrites who didn’t lift a finger to Barack Obama for droning wedding parties and encouraging ICE and CBP to go rogue.

Trump also enrages the yuppie swarm by having fun at work. He butts heads with joyless, self-censoring careerist scolds who watch what they say and pester those around them to watch their own language not because it might be bad but because it might sound bad. Joy Ann Reid is a public intellectual in a country that used to have William F. Buckley. Now Bill, that old boy relished being a posh cunt. He may have been eccentric as hell to the poors, but he was authentic. We still have relatively marginal characters in the public discourse who have some kind of sincere fun with their intellectual pursuits. P. J. O’Rourke ought to lay off the whiskey and lay on the seltzer, but he gets his kicks yukking it up with hostile copanelists and audiences. Fred Reed is able to defend the Confederacy, an institution I’ve always been too much of a damn Yankee to admire, in ways that are exceptionally thoughtful and reasonable, if still fundamentally flawed. Thomas Sowell may be on the Spectrum, and he sometimes utters some rather noxious thoughts on how we’re too squeamish to just execute our prisoners, but he comes up with some exceptional histories of things that no one else seems able to research.

I very often disagree with these guys, but they’re ultimately quite respectable. My main problem isn’t with Opposing Viewpoints; it’s with, for example, the closest leftist equivalents to these conservative thinkers being no-platformed in favor of intellectual embarrassments like Tom Friedman. The Democratic Party and its organs keep marginalizing Thomas Frank because he causes them scandal by pointing out what a shambling wreck they’ve made of themselves.

At the snarky margins, there’s stuff like this. Read the essay and the accompanying thread, if you can stomach any of it. That combination of angry sheepdogging, hippie-punching, general shaming of the marginalized, and possible sock-puppeteering makes me wonder whether the registered Democrat, youth, and leftist votes for Trump weren’t underreported. Trump, of all people, was the one with the self-discipline not to lash out at voters whose support he sought.

The essay and comment thread in that link offer a revealing glimpse into why so many young people today in particular don’t trust institutions, including ones that Trump criticizes, and regard those who do trust the same institutions as sellouts. Gin and Tacos is something of a lodestone for educated Democrats who are resentful of Republicans, Greens, Berniecrats, and nonvoters who, in this particular case, got in the way of their woke slay Queen Abuela. A few dissenting voices were bold enough to butt in and basically ask why we wouldn’t vote for someone who gave us a positive reason to turn out instead of holding our noses and voting for someone we despise and distrust because her partisans are lecturing us again. I could identify three presidential candidates in 2016 who seemed sympathetic to the plights of a large swath of the marginalized: Sanders, Trump, and Stein. I’ve discussed why at great length before. Abuela didn’t make the list because bitch didn’t pass my gut check. It’s worth mentioning how much better Trump looked just for running on a message that was overwhelmingly positive towards the native working and lower middle classes instead of brightsiding everyone in one breath and then smearing reluctant voters as petulant children in the next.

The flame war in that Gin and Tacos link is the yuppie liberal Id that the likes of Tom Friedman and Bill Clinton are used to obscure with their happy horseshit. It’s a good example of why I was convinced for a few months that we were in the midst of a political pole reversal and still am not convinced that we aren’t. Most prominent Democrats have careened into raging illiberalism in response to Trump. If I don’t like that, I have no obligation to vote for it, just as I have no obligation to vote for anything else that I don’t like. It’s disgusting to watch people who are spewing verbal abuse at my kind demand that we vote for someone we can’t stand just to show them, who openly despise us, that we aren’t uneducated, ignorant bigots.

Only a dumbass would imagine that this is a winning stance. Besides, many of us have gotten sick of being expected to respect and defend institutions that keep screwing us over. In my case (and I know I’m not alone), voting against Hillary was a nice break from the Stockholm Syndrome. It wasn’t about to force her to deliver the goods, but it was a great way to punish her for not giving a shit about delivering the goods. It was also a great way to punish scolds who falsely construed “Make America Great Again” as nothing but a racist and sexist dogwhistle. The size and enthusiasm of Trump’s female, black, and Latino bases would embarrass the Clinton crew if they could get definitive numbers and think them over, so they would say that.

What else is there to say about this clusterfuck? Probably a lot, but I have the energy to reiterate only two things in closing: MAGA, and GO DIPLOMATS!