Faulkner in the fields

One of the two caterwauling Robin Thicke wannabes at work collaterally assaulted me the other day by chasing a kid he was bullying around the end of a row and up the aisle where I was working, straight into my immediate work area. It was painfully obvious that he acted with criminal intent to assault his target and didn’t give a shit that I was in his path. That isn’t how he conceived of it, but that’s because he’s a thug who thinks that he has a civil right to throw his weight around and bully pussies however he pleases. What provoked this assault was pathetic: dude was salty that his target was poaching a distant, heavily cropped part of his row instead of staying on his assigned row. It was a fucking territorial dispute.

I read Thicke Bro the fucking riot act about getting physically aggressive with other employees and told him that I would call the police if he laid a finger on me. What rattled me about the aftermath of this assault, though, was that his primary target defended him, telling me that he was “just joking around” and couldn’t have meant any harm because he was smiling. I’d seen the fucker smiling, but I wasn’t about to tolerate that piece of shit assaulting two innocent coworkers just because he misdirected us with facial expressions contradicting his unmistakably belligerent body language.

I couldn’t tolerate an emotionally abused kid defending a workplace bully who had just assaulted me as well, but I also got really uncomfortable with how upset I was getting with this mark, who was obviously an innocent traumatized wimp who felt boxed in, literally and figuratively, between me and this guy he was going to have to face again and again; the guy who assaulted us is either family or a close peer-level family friend, although I couldn’t follow which. Worse, I was afraid that this situation would escalate to additional assaults, all too likely including batteries, if I stuck around that day, and I did not want to be put in a position of having to physically restrain Thicke Bro and risk being investigated for assault myself. So I left the property, wrote an advisory email to the sheriff’s department, and then contacted my bosses with a copy of the advisory email and some additional information on what had happened and what else I was afraid might happen as a consequence.

This turned into a three-hour time sink over a couple of two-minute workplace confrontations, but I thought it prudent to formally document what had happened and, more importantly, to eliminate any risk that our bully boy thought I might be bluffing about calling the cops. I know the type. A man of his character may despise a victim who tattles to authority figures for being a pussy, but he’ll fear one who has been in touch with the police, because he knows that the next move may result in his own arrest. These guys are not all that principled at heart. They talk a loud game about manly honor and shit, but when push comes to shove, they will not stand up to vicarious assertions of power on behalf of their victims by authority figures with arrest powers. Besides, they never abide by standards of honor themselves. If they did, they wouldn’t physically bully other people at work over territorial disputes that they started in a fucking berry field.

This may sound like a Story Whore submission about my trauma, a passion play in which I will shortly don my Vietnam Veteran trucker hat (that breathable plastic, tho), pull the list of PTSD symptoms out of my breast pocket, and let me tell you about it. There’s a government disability pension waiting at the far end of that rainbow of lies for anyone who doesn’t colossally fuck up his own story, so it ain’t me, Lawd, at $5.50 an hour gross on a good day it ain’t fuckin’ me. Nor do I want to exaggerate how upsetting or scary the actual assault was. That one bad act isn’t what still has me rattled half a week later, not when I’d gotten through to my homie that Five-O would be driving Miss Daisy down to Albany in chains for being a bad girl if he ever did anything of the sort to me.

What still rattles me about this situation is the cultural context that enabled it. This dispute did not arise and escalate to the point of assault in a cultural void. If one two-bit thug who made it past my bosses’ normally sound gut check at the time of hiring assaults me and another picker out of the blue, I can have my pushy boi policed up on short order. Honestly, I assumed all along that the guy was just a bit of a clownhatting dipshit with a questionable idea of how to dress for work, and then suddenly he assaulted us, so I don’t see what the In-Laws, who spent much less time around him, could have detected in the way of warning signs.

Similarly, if Thicke Bro’s fellow Thicke Bro is too codependent, verbally combative, and generally off for me to tolerate any more of his caterwauling after this incident, he’s just one bad member of an otherwise good crew, and I can make sure that he isn’t given the opportunity to get up in my face about how I did his buddy bogus. In this case, I’ve already gotten both of these guys fired. This is a power that I don’t feel comfortable possessing, let alone exercising. Calling the police for assistance fending off threats to one’s safety or welfare is appropriate for anyone who trusts the responding agency and its officers enough to make the call, but getting people fired somehow just seems much more extreme.

Neither of these guys seemed capable of basic, normal self-control in a professional setting, and one of them committed an unprovoked physical attack that nearly turned outright violent just to throw his weight around with a less assertive coworker, but still, getting people fired is an awesome power that is all too wantonly abused these days by drama queen shitheads who want to make a point about some moral panic they’re having and don’t care if they get a well-meaning person branded with the scarlet letter in the process. Adria Richards getting the dongle guys fired for being sexually crude (must have been a damn boring meeting for that to rise to the level of humor) and the internet mob going after Justine Sacco for making a comment about white people not getting AIDS while she was in the air because they were vicariously offended on behalf of all black Africans were cases of puritanical assholes throwing their weight around, with consequences much worse than the average non-contact workplace assault.

These boys are gone, and good riddance. But here’s where things get really fucking tricky and weird. The kid who was the target of that assault is presumably still on staff, and I’ll be floored if he developed the backbone to stand up to the two-bit thug peers in his life over the weekend. Normally I try to live by the Prime Directive in my dealings with the locals on the job, unless they open up to me to an extent convincing me that they aren’t defensively deep in the country authoritarian bullshit. This case isn’t normal: a bullying victim was adamantly defending a guy who had just assaulted me and saying that he had done nothing wrong, and it’s bloody obvious that he was defending the thug because he was scared of the guy and didn’t want more trouble. I might as well try to reason with a codependent victim of domestic violence about how her husband really is incorrigible wifebeating trash. I come to Oregon to pick fruit, not to do high-stakes social work as an amateur who’s half on/half off the clock. And to scavenge deposit bottles. Chaka Can, Chaka Can, I’d rather not feel for any of this horseshit, Chaka Can.

On top of this, all of which is already a huge mess, we’ve got an ambient religious environment that I really don’t want to criticize at work but which seems to be causing more harm than good. Few of the people involved with that farm are not evangelical Christians. I’ve known a few pickers who haven’t said anything about their religious affiliations but seemed to be something along the lines of sporadically churchgoing Main Line Protestants or Catholics. As a churchgoing Catholic myself, I don’t generally feel like, uh, coming around and talking it over (Is Wilsonville far away? Don’t answer it if you think I care), because that potentially means arguing about evangelical practices and beliefs that have been misattributed to Catholicism by evangelicals who’d rather pretend that there aren’t any disputes over, say, praying for the dead. (How do you spell that, Captain Queenan? “Depotted?”)

We were already dealing with an ongoing but low-level threat of an uncalled-for, pain-in-the-ass cultural exchange that has no business arising in the workplace but does anyway because we’ve got a bunch of kids in the mix who don’t understand that they were not raised in the only mainstream American culture. With this assault, though, we’ve now got the public evangelical piety of a timid bullying victim, a minor who got upset when I tried to stand up to his bully even though his bully had assaulted me, too. Hey, that’s a hashtag! Let me pull out this list of symptoms and TELL you about my trauma!

I’m not inferring anything. The target of this assault previously told me and another picker that he would be taking a week off later in the season because “I have to go to something called Moody.” This has to refer to a vacation bible school affiliated with the Moody Bible Institute. This kid is being raised under the auspices of a religious community that is failing to protect him from grievous bullying or teach him how to respond effectively to mistreatment by peers. He goes to VBS, he probably goes to weekly Bible studies, he almost certainly goes to church at least once a week, and he got upset with me for pulling rank as an adult on an out-of-control peer of his who had just assaulted both of us.

This strongly suggests to me that he’s recently been under the authority of adults acting under church auspices who knowingly allow bullying on their watch and make excuses for it. As much as I don’t want to get sucked into any bullshit cultural exchange over Catholicism versus evangelical fundamentalism or whatever, I’m very much of a mind to lower the boom on any congregation that even toys with making excuses for its adults’ or older teens’ failure to police bullying under its auspices. Church needs to be a safe space for the vulnerable, and that means that those holding its authority cannot be a bunch of excuse-mongering derelicts. This is basic adult supervision. It should go without saying, but there are some real dipshits and more than a few abusers (mostly emotional, I’d guess, but occasionally sexual) who use congregational authority to throw their weight around and aggrandize themselves. We just can’t be allowing children, or God forbid adolescents, to establish a pecking order like chickens. This is not a fucking barnyard.

In this context, the prissy squeamishness of so many Christian conservatives around crude language doesn’t come across as a mildly annoying foible but as a rank, damning expression of predatory hypocrisy. As far as I can tell, the guy who assaulted us is unchurched or the next thing to it, although I’m basically reading the tea leaves here. His codependent buddy got hit by a car and lives out in the woods, where he’s been ministered to and resocialized by a community of tweakers who hang out in front of the corner store down the street from the railroad bridge. I’m not making any of this up, and I’m 100% sincere and descriptive, not trying to make light of any of this, when I say that I think this fellow may have sustained untreated brain damage in the accident. There was something unusually disinhibited about his manner of speech that I don’t think can be fully explained by his club bro act, and he told us that he is still frequently in physical pain from the accident months later. He routinely interrupted others with abrupt, sometimes off-topic questions that he asked without normal volume modulation. I’m thinking maybe a Phineas Gage situation, and I mean this seriously.

So we’ve got this guy trying to recover from being hit by a car while he’s camped out down by the river most of the time, when he badly needs housing and could probably use a low-intensity inpatient behavioral health treatment program for whatever all is wrong with his head. Ain’t that America, Mellencamp. So far, so bad, and this looks like a real clusterfuck that no individual or family will be able to resolve with normal acts of charity, but now we seem to have people hanging out in the fray who think that what’s wrong with both of these dudes, Gage Bro and Rage Bro, is that they cuss too much. This is a dire problem, one that I am not exaggerating. American evangelical thought on public morals really, truly is so crude. I’m sure that I’d have an easier time convincing the wimp who was the primary target of the assault that using the Heavy Seven is more problematic than chasing a submissive peer around a hairpin corner at the end of a row over a completely bogus territorial dispute.

To be clear, I do not believe that any of the In-Laws are so foolish; they’re exactly the sort of responsible adult authority figures who are needed but so often missing in situations like this. The problem is that they’re in no position to fix dysfunctional, abusive subcultures that only incidentally overlap with their own much healthier and responsive culture (Mother-in-Law has had her troubles, but she knows that she has and clearly strives to do better). They’ve got this heavily indoctrinated adolescent pushover who refuses to stand up for himself and got upset with me when I stood up for him, apparently because he feared that I’d get him into trouble for going after his bully buddy. Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of shit show that flares up when timid people who won’t think for themselves are put into environments with authoritarian premises, such as fundamentalist church youth groups. The In-Laws stumbled into this mess in part because the dysfunction of a pathological, ungodly fucked up evangelical community marginal to their own church circles at the closest bled into their workplace at the same time that the dysfunction of Tweaker Hooverville started to wash ashore from the opposite direction.

I can’t fix this horseshit. If I could, I’d be worth $12 an hour, minimum bid. The shit hit the fan and I was suddenly doing the work of a school guidance counselor, completely unpaid, at a job where I’ve never cleared minimum wage for more than maybe fifteen minutes at a time. That isn’t a high enough pay grade for me to put myself smack in the middle between a bunch of prim churchy types who are against swearing, a bullying victim who angrily insists that he wasn’t one, and a thug from the crew whose best friend is fit for outpatient services on Tri-Met.

That doesn’t work. The boundaries are completely fucked. There’s a place for street ministry, but that place is not five yards from where I’m trying to pick fruit. That’s like saying that because a priest hears confessions as part of his ministry he has a duty to be utterly gracious when a crazy bum comes into his rectory garden and throws a shovel at him because he’s the devil while he’s picking tomatoes for dinner. We need to have a different, proper place for those who break into the Governor’s Mansion to flag down the Highway Patrol to shoot the mountain lion that’s been growling from inside that dumpster. No, that’s a poor analogy: dude admitted that, on second thought, he probably imagined the cat. Sometimes the kitty is in the dumpster; other times, the kitty is in one’s head. You know how that happens.

The guy who lives in the woods under the wings of tweakers has a girlfriend who worked with us briefly and said that she might have to leave work early because she didn’t have her schizophrenia meds. She seemed pretty high-functioning, just a bit jumpy and anxious sometimes. She was certainly no Psychotarp or Mixups in my Mind. I have no problem working around people with a history of psychosis who aren’t disruptively symptomatic, and I mean that. The problem is that we’ve got a whole lot of people on the loose in this country with untreated behavioral problems. The better results include Mixups in my Mind or Psychotarp talking nonsense at me for half an hour, which might be okay if I’ve got the time. The worse results include Mixups throwing a wheelbarrow across the parking lot because he’s having a mad.

Have I told you lately that inpatient psychiatric beds facilitate productive economic activity, and that I love you? That last part is bleeding-heart horseshit, but the first part is true, so will I see you tonight? The 72 bus to Clackamas Town Center works, too. Forget about getting Charlie off (CHAHLEE!); at least Charlie knows that he wants to get off and isn’t all like, let me fucking off right here, then standing in the doorway yelling about how he has to get off, then, once he’s finally off, banging on the door trying to get back in, like he’s P. J. O’Rourke’s Anacostia slow boy and he lives there.

Contra the evangelical language police, the problem isn’t with neighborhood bums who go up to Addison and ask whether any of you white motherfuckers want to get on the train for free. That’s, uh, unfare, but that isn’t what’s really wrong with the CTA; does that sound like Rahm Emanuel to you? Okay, maybe a bit. Fat Cracka paid for his ride, by the way. Fat Cracka pays, because Fat Cracka cares. Too much, in fact. It should be my Monday, as they say (yuck), but I’ve already scavenged two deposit bottles today, and that’s work, and $5 to putz around on WES sounds pretty damn appealing right now, because that’s some bitchin’ self-propelled diesel and the Tualatin Valley somehow isn’t nothing but social problems, so I’ll do without anyone who has an Uber account getting up in my face about how that’s too little radical compassion or too much self-care.

Don’t ask me how that became a sentence. Whose tent have YOUR boots been under? There’s no need to ask who I saw in the tent village in front of the charity lunch spot downtown last night, either, or why I walked a full circuit around the Greyhound depot, or why I started the seven o’clock hour in a darkened church sanctuary, waiting for the contemplative mass to begin while I thought about how maybe Pot-o-Shit Friend should have used kitty litter. I’ll understand if Father needs to excuse himself from the altar to find some soap. He might have enough to spare to wash out my mouth, but where does that leave my brain? How, pray tell, can one minister to the Body of Christ when one has such difficulty ministering to the entire head?

God bless. This ain’t mere Christianity; it’s the agony of Gethsemane as farce. Welcome. Take a look around and see what you find. Share it with the congregation if the spirit so moves you, for all are welcome in the meetinghouse that we call life. Lord have Mersey upon us, this sounds like a Mrs. Robinson remix, but Mrs. Robinson didn’t live in the woods with all the bodega tweakers, so do share with us your newest testament of latter-day horrors. I’ve shared worse.

Stay tuned for our next issue, devoted to 4,000 words about how you totally know you’re a 2010’s kid if you’ve ever given thanks that you haven’t been stabbed on MAX.

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Orange you glad you don’t live in the Chinese part of town

Hoo boy. Orange County’s piss-ass homeless shelter nimbyism has reached the judicial override stage, and it is not pretty. A federal judge, David O. Carter, has partially asserted dictatorial emergency powers over the county government and a number of city governments to compel the approval of shelter sites and enjoin the enforcement of vagrancy laws in the interim. This isn’t a case of the judiciary lording it over the legislature and the citizenry for fun; it’s a proportional, and quite patient, assertion of the human rights of a marginalized, impoverished citizen constituency against a powerful, violently hostile constituency that defines itself by property rights as property owners, not by civil rights as citizens. What the judge is telling the local officials and the propertied agitators driving their intransigence is that they have dragged their feet for far too long on the establishment of adequate rehousing facilities for the residents of the homeless encampments that they are so eager to raze and that they have absolutely no latitude to criminalize the existence of their indigent neighbors to protect their own property rights and precious, precious feelings.

There’s a really ugly ethnic angle to this dispute, one that the white liberal consensus in California finds too uncomfortable to name, but as a homeless honky native to Palo Alto and registered to vote in Sacramento County, I’ll be damned if I’ll be guilt-tripped into holding my peace about it. It’s the fucking Chinese. They’ve behaving execrably. A clannish, racialized, affluent, propertied rabble of immigrants and their children are petulantly trying to criminalize the existence of a native lumpenproletariat, most of the latter from families that have been in what is now the United States since time immemorial.

That’s ethnic cleansing if it happens in Yugoslavia, and it’s ethnic cleansing if it happens here. A bunch of haughty rich asshole foreigners moved in en masse from overseas, established a colonial settlement, and are now sore as hell that the inherent vices of their neighborhood include their native-stock birthright citizen neighbors, whom they defame wholesale as filthy criminals who depress their property values. We now have to listen to these thugs and their spawn, whose family money does not generally come from scrupulously licit sources, carry on about how they’re blameless and worthy and it’s only the native proles whose shit stinks.

There is something dysfunctional about any society where a racialized settler population feels able to lash out in this fashion without fear of retaliatory pogroms. Chinese money, again, from a variety of questionable sources, has driven a good deal of the housing bubble that has made it impossible for the native poor to afford housing in Orange County. This isn’t some insurmountable natural law; the crooked upper crust of a systemically corrupt nation in the early stages of industrialization fled overseas with its wealth and parked it in real estate in a handful of markets that it found culturally and legally hospitable, one of these (a relatively modest one, in fact) being Orange County. This is crude ethnic gangsterism, but with more bigotry than the old Irish, Italian, and Jewish mobsters indulged in their more magnanimous years. The proposition that a cohort of rich, grasping Chinamen who hate the everloving shit out of the peasants back home give a hot damn about the high ideals of ethnic and socioeconomic pluralism of their adoptive land is insulting. This is one of the most illiberal, intolerant populations ever to have landed on our shores.

What do I suppose I’d try to do if I were in their shoes? For starters, I’d try not to act like a raging fucking asshole colonial settler-bigot begging for banishment to the Breslau Ghetto as an unassimilable scion of an incorrigible ethnic crime family. I’m not Jewish enough for temple, but I’m Jewish enough to take care not to be a fucking shanda fur die goyim. This bourgeois ethnic cleansing bullshit in Orange County isn’t the first time propertied overseas Chinese have behaved in ways that called to mind the all-time worst of Europe’s Jews and grievously tested the tolerance of the native ethnic majority in their host nations. Everything that I’ve read about the overseas Chinese indicates that California’s 21st-century native stock is reacting to these provocations with a level of goodwill, patience, and magnanimity that the ethnic Thais and Malays have not historically shown their ancestors in Southeast Asia.

We have no special national duty or, God help us, regional moral duty as a liberal sanctuary state, to be the only host population on the face of the earth to act like this shit is fucking Sesame Street. This right here is the episode in which a foreign lynch mob that had no connections to the neighborhood a decade or two ago tries to burn Oscar alive in his trash can to clean up the neighborhood. There’s some nice happy horseshit at the base of the Statue of Liberty about the tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and my great-grandfather embezzled from his employer in the East End of London to buy a cabin across the Atlantic and the direct admission at the Battery that came with it, but tired, huddled, and breathless ain’t who’s jacking up the cost of housing in the OC, cracka.

If we have sacred values to defend, we might want to consider that this overseas gentrification jet set is too fucking illiberal to share these values, which presumably include allowing those already present in the neighborhood as birthright citizens to live peaceably without being ethnically cleansed by Johnny-come-lately interlopers from families that bought their way into the country. They’re the ones who showed up out of the blue and used money to muscle their way into existing communities with no regard for the welfare or even survival of the neighbors they displaced. They’re the ones who expect native-stock children to compete like their lives depend on it for college admissions and jobs, but without the tight ethnic networks to grease the skids before them.

I’m sure some concern-trolls will preen about how I’m trying to launch a reprise of the Chinese Exclusion Act. That isn’t what’s happening here. The dynamics have flipped. The native stock driving Chinese exclusion in the nineteenth century were bigoted as all hell, and the Chinese they were so hellbent on driving out of the land were peasants, piss-poor, marginalized immigrants who would have been grievously oppressed by their social betters back home had they stayed. What we have now is an affluent native stock that bends over backwards to be tolerant towards an even more affluent and networked immigrant community while the latter takes the lead in efforts to commit the wholesale official oppression of the poorest old-stock Americans in their neighborhoods and drive them east of Eden, or at least east of Corona.

The non-indigent old-liners who might otherwise be upset by this foreign aggression against their fellow citizens, to wit, Americans from long-established families whose ancestors did not purchase residency within living memory, prefer to pretend that none of this ethnic unpleasantness is happening. Well, guess what, white girl? It is happening.

Sure, the Chinese have bourgeois white allies in their fight to bar the door against the riffraff, fancy crackers whose class interests overlap with their own and whose other nimby interests include the adamant belief that El Toro is a terrible place for an airport. Still, they’re further emboldened by the residual hopes or assent or God only knows exactly what of downwardly mobile native-stock young people who were raised to believe in and still refuse to disbelieve every bit of American Experience-ass bleeding-heart horseshit about how we worked through all the bad shit, like, fifty years ago and all get along now. This has the potential to cause some hardcore cognitive dissonance as a foreign population, raised in a dramatically different cultural, political, and civic context with nothing but contempt for the welfare of the marginalized poor, buys its way into a civic stake that it aggressively uses to harass its neediest neighbors.

I’m afraid that this situation really is as crude and ugly as I’m chronicling it. Some of the worst colonial aggression on earth today is coming from the Chinese. The birth hotels in the San Gabriel Valley, a fairly seedy area by overseas Chinese standards, cater to families wealthy enough to afford airfare and long-term lodging for their unemployed expectant mothers. The current Chinese diaspora in Vancouver includes absolute Gulf Arab Eurotrash-grade degenerates who drive their sports cars across toll bridges at triple the speed limit on licenses in bad standing. These asshats and their families have dumped so much cash into the local housing market that the cops who pull them over can hardly afford rent on the Lower Mainland.

These shitheads are not typical Chinese. That would be like insisting that the shittiest yuppies in Central Bucks or North Jersey are typical Americans. If a diaspora of that character took over, say, Tijuana and jacked up the cost of housing beyond what any Mexican of normal means could afford, I’d angrily disavow them as their compatriot. I already can’t fucking stand pig-ignorant Tri-State money wops who condescendingly talk about “percent diversity” at their alma maters like their families have always been High Whitey when my own grandparents were denied public accommodations because they were taken for Jews. If such a constituency were overheating housing markets abroad and doing everything in their civic power to demean and expel the natives they’d already dispossessed with their housing bubble, it would be a national scandal. We’ve got a few goldbug-intersectional bourgeois-supremacist Yanqui fuckwads kicking around Latin America in a spirit of superiority, along with a handful of serious high rollers rich enough to buy bugout spreads in New Zealand, but as asshole emigrants go, we’re pikers compared to High Chinky.

The Chinese we do get in our affluent cities are not looking to play by our most scrupulous rules. They wouldn’t have the money to expatriate anywhere decent if that were how they rolled. Scrupulosity is not how fortunes are made in post-Deng Mainland China. Honorebly feel my balzac for more universal insights into great fortunes and forgotten crimes, but je me fouquine souviens this much about the PRC in particular: that its industrialization as a major exporter in the late twentieth century involved levels of corruption well in excess of the norms in Japan and the industrialized West. We, the greatest nation on earth and shit, started reverting towards our own historic Gilded Age crookedness around the time we started our serious trade with China; the prior standards from which we were, by Bork, slouching towards Gomorrah were of a much higher caliber than what China’s industrialists and their apparatchik cronies adopted. Likewise, it’s safe to assume that a great deal of the money overheating housing markets in the old British colonies (crikey, you mates, too), was expatriated prior to or in deliberate circumvention of the Chinese Politburo’s big anti-corruption drives.

No, this doesn’t account for the entire Chinese diaspora. There are decent people trying to honorably find better lives for themselves and their families who have the misfortune to share an ethnic community with a bunch of belligerent loudmouths pushing a moral panic about the dirty gaijin infesting the place they now call home. This is not enviable. Still, there’s a really disturbing appearance that the entire barrel is being spoiled by the bad apples who speak so loudly on the community’s behalf. I just get a really bad feeling about some of the communal dynamics here, that there are decent people whose personal inclinations are towards tolerance but who are more eager to be buddies with the shittiest social climbers from back home than to stand up for the despised vulnerable. Assimilated members of the first birthright generation must be in a particularly unenviable spot, wondering why the fuck mom and dad are such lunatic bigots.

What I really hate is the appearance that some of the most vicious immigrants a nation could ever admit have successfully hacked our code and turned it against us. At the risk of going full Goldwater, we’re tolerating the intolerant, and that’s no virtue. Actually, it’s even worse than that, and seedier. We’re granting some of our richest immigrants bogus victim points based on atrocities that some of our worst native-stock ancestors committed generations ago against peasants whom the current model minority we so zealously defend would enthusiastically treat just as badly back in the old country. More than a few of us are being over-the-top solicitous towards crooks who buy their failspawn driver’s licenses and academic slots beyond their normal meritorious qualification because we think one of our shithead great-great-grandpas once Marky Mark-style beat the shit out of some coolie. Maybe that happened, or maybe it didn’t, but regardless, it’s a part of our national middle-highbrow lore now. This sure looks like white guilt on behalf of a pushy ethnic clan that will never even try to reciprocate this bent-over-backwards graciousness. We can tell what they’re saying about us in English in public, but many of them are bilingual and have use of ethnically segregated private spheres. Mandarin must be a useful language in which to express one’s amazement at the whitefellas for being a bunch of utter goddamned fools.

By the way, there’s a special place in purgatory for our own goody-two-shoes Orientalist Brahmins and their socially climbing hangers-on. These are as American as apple pie and driving all the chinks out of Frisco. I’ve long had this really unsettling feeling that the open fascination of a large swath of the American upper crust with the outward trappings of Asian culture, a fascination dating back in earnest to the days of Crocker and Stanford, did much to drive the Great Value crackers into their infamous fits of violent anti-Asian rage, first against the Chinese in the nineteenth century and then against the Japanese during the Second World War. The appearance that we’ve been using indigent neighborhood laundry operators as political pawns and battering rams in our own insipid domestic class standoffs since at least the conclusion of our Civil War (you know, the one we held to deal with the whole racial thing) must infuriate Asian observers and convince them that we’re all absolutely reprehensible.

If they’re colonizing our neighborhoods in a spirit of contempt for the poor neighbors whose fellow citizens they seek to become and their US-born children already are, it isn’t without provocation. There is a certain gross reciprocity to the whole enterprise. We certainly don’t have much moral authority if our own bourgeoisie celebrate Asian shiznit as a way to passive-aggressively showcase model minority designer immigrants to the recalcitrant poor as reminders that they’re disposable and replaceable.

Free tea and dumplings at the Irvine Metrolink station in observance of the Chinese New Year? Fuck off, yuppie scum. I can make my own goddamn hot and sour soup.

No, I don’t feel good for having written this. I feel gross. But it has to be said. A pushy, clannish immigrant constituency driving the native stock out of the neighborhood it has colonized is no occasion for tolerance. It’s an invasive horde. It should be given no quarter. Like hell I’m here to celebrate their immigrant story when they’re behaving so rottenly and in such bad faith and I, a native Californian, am sleeping in my Focus again. God, it must be really alienating to live in Irvine as an affluent member of the neighborhood ethnic majority.

So, no, I don’t mind gloating over their being a federal judge’s bitch. They brought it upon themselves. Judge Carter gave Orange County’s municipal governments all kinds of time to fix a human rights disaster that they’d caused, and instead of making a bona fide, adult effort to fix it, they caved to pressure from their worst constituents and did jack shit. The last thing I’m willing to excuse is a bunch of calculating foreign-stock shitheads whimpering like Otto Warmbier because they’re subject to the jurisdiction of the federal courts of the country where they chose to immigrate, like they have any cause to be upset. We have a judiciary precisely to restrain such graceless thugs when they take over elected governments and pervert due process to their private ends. That’s privilege. My using language like money chink to smear bad people who probably call me white devil or some shit in private is not.

The only other thing I’ll say about this is that I want the eventual PBS documentary about this spat to prominently feature the same spare, poignant fiddle music that Ken Burns used for the Lewis and Clark story. I reckon those motherfuckers were more racist than I am, and since this shit is already absurd, I demand that it be aesthetically absurd. No, I have one more demand: that the accompaniment be performed by an all-American bum, of whatever race (even a drop of Chinese blood would be epic), who took up the violin at the age of, like, forty, not by some fucking asshole who clawed into the principal’s chair in the high school orchestra in an effort to secure admission to Wellesley. As Wesley Willis, neither of him a reach school, might have said, GO DIPLOMATS BITCH!

Damned if that isn’t the most wholesome character to wander into this story yet. That’s what happens when you’re told that you have to stop yelling like a wild animal in the Genesis on Western. His problem was that he didn’t clean up well enough to yell like a wild animal in the Irvine City Council chambers.

In awe at the size of this lad. Absolute secure housing unit.

It’s the fifth anniversary of some Facebook shitposting that I did about Robert Rizzo working the parking lot at the Surf Museum in Huntington Beach (“I used to direct traffic at Hershheypark, so Bob’s a colleague”), including some kind words about Chris Christie’s superior character that didn’t age well after the George Washington Bridge thing, so I looked up Rizzo to see what has happened to him in the meantime. He’s presumably done with the lot gig, since they don’t have those at Lompoc, but a bit like Najibullah Zazi on quadruple rations, I can’t find where the hell the feds and/or CDCR have stashed him: the feds say he and five or six other guys named Robert Rizzo have been released, news reports at the time of his sentencing said that he’d be staying in the federal system to serve his state sentence, and CDCR shows no record of him in its inmate lookup portal. Given that he was facing well over a tenner less than five years ago, someone isn’t sharing pertinent information with the class.

When I compared Robert Rizzo to Chris Christie, I meant it. That boy is what we call thicc. Or was, depending on what he thinks of prison food. There are prisoners who lose weight because the food is shit, but it doesn’t take much slush off the top of ten mil or whatever the hell in illegal government kickbacks and looting to fund a commissary account for the long haul. Fat Sammy and the Unified Command memes are and shall remain an important part of the memetic treasury in these pages, but Sam Dotson has shit on Rizzo for being a stout shorty. It’s historically been debatable whether Italians can be white, but if they can, my good trolley bitch, that’s one fat cracka.

That said, whether it ought to be said or not, what inspires me to prose today isn’t Robert Rizzo but Chuck Rizzo, whose name came up when I was trying to locate Bob the Big Boy in the American Gulag. Chuck Rizzo is, for starters, an unremarkably normal-looking guy, both handsomer and more height/weight-proportional than Robert but nondescript by normal standards. He’s facing but not yet serving a federal nickel bid for a mob trash racket in Metro Detroit. Daddy was a trash crook, too, and a Charles. God bless our American family-own small business job creators, then.

The stunning thing about the Chuck Rizzo case was the objection that the prosecution raised to his being released on bond after sentencing to get his affairs in order and allowed to report to prison at a later date: specifically, that he was a suicide risk, and that a planned family reunion prior to his surrender date was likely to push him over the edge. The judge ruled in Rizzo’s favor, saying that the prosecution’s objections were serious but not convincing. But on the subject of elephants and the rooms they might trash, do we maybe think that if this guy is suicidal, it’s because he’s facing years in prison?

*Permanently contemplative Dennis Lynn Rader Voice* I spend quite a bit of time in my room myself. But seriously. Incarceration is not a routine setback or challenge in life. Suicide is hell on those left behind, but it takes a hard damn heart not to admit that prison can be a hell of its own, or that five to five and a half years in prison is nothing because the system passes down sentences centuries long. These are not things to minimize. They’re horrifically serious.

Any prosecutor who stands up in a courtroom and asks a judge to remand a convict to prison so that he can’t commit suicide while out on pre-surrender bond is a sociopathic sadist. That’s some powerfully depraved thinking. Yeah, dipshit, you know why he might be suicidal? Because of you. You’re the one doing everything you can to ruin his life out of spite. Even if a convict isn’t suicidal, as Rizzo’s defense convinced the judge, he has alarmingly good reasons to be suicidal, and every fucking one of these reasons could be neutralized singlehandedly by the prosecution not seeking prison time. That’s what prosecutors would do if their main concern were about the mental health and survival of their defendants and convicts. This is separate from the public safety arguments against releasing dangerous criminals into the community without supervision, but the prosecution here wasn’t arguing anything of the sort; it was disingenuously asserting itself as a defender of its adversary against himself.

Really, judges should give prosecutors one warning to shut the fuck up about their concern for defendants’ wellbeing before holding them in contempt of court. It’s a fundamentally perjurious mindset, not a series of lies in a strict technical sense but a line of argument driven by such utterly bad faith that it’s tantamount to lying, and it is without a doubt a form of deliberate false witness. Prosecutors in these situations patently do not give a rat’s ass about the welfare of those they’re prosecuting. More often than not, they seem to be driven by a pathological, personal, visceral hatred, including a desire to see evil visited upon their adversaries. They don’t get upset because someone will make a tragic, impulsive, heartbreaking, irreversible mistake; they get upset and scandalized that they’ll be denied the opportunity to punish those who have desperately sought a higher mercy.

That’s who deserves the Flint water supply. Lock their asses in cells plumbed into the river until they publicly disavow the evil they’ve promoted. If some crew of crooks gets caught running a trash racket, their contracts can be canceled and their ill-gotten gains clawed back. Allowing manifestly vicious, hateful, vicariously violent lunatics and sadists to draw public salaries as criminal prosecutors is a much deeper and more serious problem. That’s much harder to fix by enforcing the law. If no one will watch the watchdogs, maybe we’d be better off putting them all down.

The notion that prison is a place where the suicidal can be protected from themselves is as laughable as it is grotesquely evil and false. What’s next? Insisting that EMT-firefighters have the lowest possible occupational exposure to smoke and contaminated sharps? That the way not to be called a snitch-ass pig is to become a cop? To paraphrase Daniel Holtzclaw, suck white dick. Chuck Rizzo’s prosecutors asked a judge to immediately remove him from a reasonably stable environment where he had adequate psychiatric care to an unstable, chaotic, vicious environment where any psychiatric care he had been receiving would be interrupted and replaced, almost certainly, with a lower standard of care. Not many years ago a federal court found psychiatric care in the California prison system so pervasively bad that it placed the entire CDCR mental health system under the supervision of a special master, eventually ordering inmate releases to reduce the population to a manageable level. California may have been an extreme case, but there’s no fucking way it had the only prison system in the country that was failing to provide adequate psychiatric care to its inmates.

Yeah, let’s add another nonviolent convict with a history of suicidal ideation to our already crowded and dysfunctional federal prison system so that he doesn’t kill himself. That’ll go just great.

There’s a broader point to be made here, too: our prosecutors are batshit fucking insane. Do you really want to tell me that that Anne Marie Schubert is not clinically paranoid? Mama Grizzly cowering behind the chain link fence with delusions of persecution at the hands of angry community activists whose meetings she refuses to attend in the interest of her physical safety is certainly a good approximation of paranoid psychosis and projectile PTSD. The bum who ran into the governor’s mansion trying to flag down the Highway Patrol to shoot the mountain lion that was growling at him from inside the dumpster wasn’t that crazy. He’d just wanted the good guys with guns to shoot down the bad guy with fangs, but after his arrest, he told KCRA that he’d had mental health problems in the past and on second thought there probably hadn’t been any lion. It took a guy who had been acutely psychotic two or three days to say, shit, I guess I hallucinated that cat, but damned if we can ever get a hypervigilant district attorney to admit that, no, as a matter of fact no one was trying to assault or murder me, because yelling at a public official to do her job is not a form of assault, homicide, or violent threat.

Again, we may be better off without this apparatus of hell than we are with it. We really don’t understand peace or mercy as a nation, not even when it’s staring us square in the face. We hardly even have the gumption to tell flagrantly paranoid security officials to take their CalPERS and fuck off back to Citrus Heights. I don’t give a shit if Schubert wants to self-medicate with chardonnay; the problem is that she’s being paranoid and lashing out on the public dime at a time when she has executive prosecutorial discretion. If she wants to be batshit crazy on her own time, that’s her business; this current shit is our business.

The Chippies should give that poor bum a Starbucks gift card for what they and the Sheriff’s Department did to him, since they’re already quite familiar with Starbucks. They owe him a Dunkin’ Doorman offering for his trouble. I’m not lion, and neither is that dumpster.

Conservatives: what is it all about? And liberals: what is THAT all about? Who among us can say what is good, or what is wack, or what is Aleppo?

My suspicion during the 2016 election that Donald Trump was the more liberal major-party candidate is being borne out, in some small measure at least, by his current enthusiasm for his powers of clemency. Having recently commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a nonviolent offender serving life without parole for drug offenses, the Donald is now openly mulling the possibility of sparing the Rod from another six years as a compulsory Coloradan.

Trump’s use of his clemency powers is woefully inadequate to the sheer scale of the American penal state, but it’s very much welcome and encouraging. We should all seek more of his executive mercy, not less. It’s appalling, then, to see liberals, both sworn and credibly inferred, getting visibly uncomfortable with his enthusiasm for these particular powers. These same creeps think it’s super cool and badass when he directs military aid or strikes unto wholesale Muath al-Kasasbeh on some godforsaken patch of desert that the degenerates of the House of Saud have for some utterly selfish reason come to revile, operations that profligately waste our own national treasure and talent on atrocities that in no way serve our national interests, and conversely they vomit cheap accusations of sedition at him for being reluctant to clash with Russia, the country whose security services diligently warned the FBI about Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the Boston Marathon bombing.

Everything about all of this indicates that liberalism, as preached and practiced by the Democratic Party and its talented tenth base, is nothing of the sort. How talented this tenth is at anything other than state-patriotic bullshit is debatable, as is how precisely it is a tenth, as opposed to a fifth or whatever; my own belief in liberalism, at least, includes the principle that the rest of you are at liberty to do your own fucking math.

Overall, it seems to be diminishing in size but compensating for its numerical diminishment with intensifying stridency, defensiveness, hypervigilance, and grievance-whoring. A cornered animal is as good a model as any for this constituency. The Hillbots were and still are infamously rattled by the popularity of Bernie Sanders, a dark horse who came in from the fringes and nearly won the presidency (*Most Meritorious Adam Parkhomenko Voice* How could he would have?) with a democratic socialist platform that appealed to a downwardly mobile society. Bernie’s base included a great many humiliated children of the middle and upper-middle classes, i.e., exactly the constituency that fucks shit up for the incumbent political class when it isn’t delivered what it was promised from birth.

The data wonk brain geniuses in the Clinton campaign didn’t grasp that this is the same educated, civically engaged, and angry stratum that historically produced fine specimens such as Che Guevara and Pol Pot. Their arrogance and surreal ignorance of sociology and political history goes far to explain why they were so alarmed and so fucking salty that the young people they had failed in the course of their own looting of the commonweal were energized by a barnstormer who talked about revolution as a philosophical guide but was really just a mashup of Ike, FDR, and Tommy Douglas.

Time and time again, and on every conceivable issue, these shitty, condescending, crooked sellouts are scandalized that anyone in their party’s putative base has actual principles and tells them, their social betters, to assert and defend these principles or go to hell. Their entire attitude boils down to fuck all y’all for being uppity but God damn you if you don’t reverently vote for us as ordered. It’s a mystery how they keep choking against outrageous Republicans with this gracious, winning, and fully becoming stance. They must have forgotten every fucking thing they learned in social studies from grades K-16 (17? 18? 20?), notably including the civic stake and civic equality that everyone in their native class was taught to demand as a sacred birthright. Remember, these shitheads are mostly failspawn who didn’t have what it took to go, say, to medical school; awfully few of them street-fought their way out of some trailer park or housing project.

In concert with their anger towards uppity reverse yuppies, they’re publicly steaming mad at the poor in general for putting Trump into office, an unwashed mass that they caricaturishly construe as “the white working class.” Although they prefer to be discreet and disingenuous about this vice, they admire wealth, in fact idolize it to a biblical extent, so blaming the Great Value crackers for Trump is much more comforting than admitting that white working-class turnout, like working-class turnout across the board, was about as low as ever and maybe sixty or eighty percent of Trump’s votes came from reactionary provincial elites and other affluent fashy trash.

Again, do the math. I’ll do the social studies: these fucking assholes are acting like the worst dorks in a dysfunctional seventh grade class, desperately seeking the approval and support of whatever shitty rag-tag defensive force they can muster from the teachers’ pets and other goody-two-shoes dipshits against the class clown, a two-bit bully they fear and hate mainly because he sometimes corners them in the hallways and gives them noogies. Hence the newfound “liberal” reverence for the FBI, the CIA, and the “intelligence community” in general, “communities” harboring and empowering some of the worst people in the country. These people are so psychosexually stunted, dysfunctional, and selfish that they’d rather stand back while random peons are swept into the maw of the American security state over trifling offenses than admit that they’re sniveling, unprincipled shitheads trying to boss around constituents who seek to comport themselves as actual adults and maybe meaningfully assert some real principles while they’re at it.

Donald Trump isn’t entirely wrong that Rod Blagojevich was arbitrarily and unfairly swept into that maw. The guy was a crook, but his real undoing was that he put his loud mouth to a wiretapped phone line. In a very real way, he’s in federal prison for having a low-class manner of speech. The kind of crass, corrupt transactional politics he tried to plot over the phone is scandalous and wrong, but nothing about it was objectively unusual. He got into trouble for being candid in a recorded conversation about influence-peddling and quid pro quo sleaze that most politicians have the tradecraft to discuss implicitly and in private.

To use an all too obvious counterexample, what Mayor 40892-424 tried to do paled in comparison to what Bill and Hillary Clinton have actually done to abuse and profit from their high offices for decades. Neither in scope nor scale nor severity did Blago ever hold a fucking candle to Billary. On top of that, he’s a more decent, down-to-earth, and normal person than either of them. He’s an especially stark contrast to Hillary, but Bill was always a vicious, treacherous, bigoted piece of work, and in his old age he’s turned into a short-tempered cadaverous scold. Blagojevich achieved a graciousness and good humor in crisis that would have been impressive by any standard, and which neither of the Clintons, whose circumstances have often looked ominous but have never been so dire, has ever come close to achieving.

Liberalism might include any number of positions, but there are some things that it absolutely is not. Bringing a self-serious, self-righteous G-Man on NPR to moralize about how serious Blagojevich’s crimes were and how he therefore needed to be punished is grossly illiberal. Eric Holder belatedly admitting that he thought the 12-14 year sentence was excessive is liberal, but what a fucking profile in courage, waiting six years to express a public opinion as a former US Attorney General about what he regarded as a disproportionate federal prison sentence.

The Democrats really don’t fucking get it. They’re so convinced of their own righteousness, of their own superiority to Donald Trump, that they can’t imagine a situation in which they make him look good, even after they’ve set him up in favorable situations countless times and he’s repeatedly used them to make himself look like the better party to whatever the hell bullshit they orchestrated. A few days ago they were snarking about whatever the hell Kim Kardashian could have been doing in the White House to waste Trump’s time. Pleading for clemency on behalf of a federal prisoner who was serving life without parole for drug trafficking was what, and in an accomplishment that any practicing criminal defense or appellate lawyer would admire, OJ’s lawyer’s daughter prevailed on behalf of the petitioner whose case she was pursuing and secured her very prompt release for time served.

For all we know, Trump’s next move may be to spare the Rod to do an old buddy a solid and trigger the libs. Trump hasn’t been using his executive clemency powers nearly vigorously enough, but what he’s doing is a start. Anyone who cherishes liberty and seeks to rein in the American penal state will welcome the mercy he has shown Alice Marie Johnson and any mercy he grants Rod Blagojevich. Johnson’s sentence commutation is a crucial and worthy model of mercy. Everyone bitching about how she or Blagojevich or anyone in their league had some “debt” to “pay” to “society” is a fucking ghoul. Trump, the president whose ADHD has gotten him fixated on his presidential clemency powers on a regular basis, isn’t the ugly evil one here. The prospect of the Clintons, or even Barack Obama, sending Blago to FCI Englewood as a scapegoat to show off the Democratic Party’s intolerance for corruption within its own ranks is utterly hideous. The appearance that the Clintons scapegoated Anthony Weiner in exactly this fashion is no less gross and immoral. They’re evil; Dick Pic Tony is an unappealing but ultimately harmless neighborhood flasher who somehow got into Congress and, against the odds, showed himself (ew) to be the most normal and moral of the three of them.

One would expect any avowed liberal with a lick of sense to recognize the general virtue of praying for mercy, not justice, but the Democrats today are a vicious bunch of illiberal idiots. They aren’t even idiot-savants; that would involve some sort of narrow genius or savvy, and they’re too profoundly fucking retarded for any of that. If they’re sore that Donald Trump is upstaging them as a liberal, it’s a simple enough thing to remedy: they can return to actual liberalism, to a credible belief in liberty that they’re willing to lift a finger from time to time to defend. If they don’t want Kim Kardashian and Jared Kushner to be leading advocates for criminal justice reform, they might start by devoting less time to praising reactionary shitheads like Chuck Schumer and Claire McCaskill as cherished and indispensable members of their congressional caucus. As Kim might say, but probably more eloquently if the cameras are off, I, like, walked into a political vacuum here, and was like, wow.

That’s exactly how I feel every time I behold the Democratic Party and its affiliated media outlets. I’m, like, wow, you guys really are that fucked up. They screwed the pooch on all the basic socialist planks that kept labor on their side with promises to zealously promote individual liberty instead, then screwed the pooch on criminal justice just as hard and made a show of how much they hate anyone who isn’t either a yuppie or a meek low-class client voter. They’re now the party of culturally left-of-center gentrification sellouts, and they can’t even lock that constituency down because it naturally tends towards increasing reaction as its fortunes improve. They might assert the freedom to be a peaceable bum downtown, but that would piss off the boutique and restaurant owners, small business owners being by many accounts the most virulently reactionary constituency of all. Their conception of liberty has shrunk to such a pathetic, unimaginative, philosophically impoverished, degraded, feeble state that it is now basically the right to be affluently gay at brunch.

Rod Blagojevich would be an improvement. As the white boy who keeps integrating the mess halls and exercise tracks at FCI Englewood, he already is an improvement. The Democrats would welcome him back if they could tolerate anyone who’s honest and has some actual principles rattling around in there with all the pay-for-play hustling scams he’s working.

No, I’m not kidding. Just look at the crop of shits they currently let out in public. They’ve got nowhere to go but up with the guy who knows from personal experience that prison isn’t necessarily the best idea and that the FBI isn’t our friend.

Cuck and Nancy

Both of the major US political parties are deeply aberrant and pathological, but the Republicans at least act like functioning adults capable of more or less making their own way in the world. They’re unspeakably evil, and the ones who aren’t personally so actively cover for colleagues who are, but at least they stand up for themselves and for what the principles that they profess. They’re America’s scumbag stepfather, and we’re their battered wife and kids.

The Democrats could be the beat cop who stares Stepdaddy down at the front door on these repeat calls, civilly but resolutely telling him, no, sir, it is not acceptable for you to beat the shit out of your own family over nonviolent expressions of disrespect and you are not helping your own cause by coming to the door in a wifebeater and cursing responding officers out with a tirade about how it’s your house, your rules. The Democrats could be the ones asserting that the police is the public, the public is the police, and we are here as representatives of that public to enforce its moral and legal sense that no man has the right to treat his kin as his chattels, the point being that if you lay another finger on anyone in this house or utter one more threat we are taking you downtown.

The glaring problem with this strategy is that the Democrats all act like Monk. It doesn’t take expanding galaxy brain to figure out how to deescalate tense situations but also be credibly firm with those who refuse to be decent and start acting in good faith. These are key interpersonal skills that every well-run police organization seeks out and trains into its recruits. But again, we’re talking about the Democrats, so all bets on intelligence are off, an adjective that also applies in the broadest general terms to the entire fucking party establishment.

I’m unfair to Monk; these smarmy losers are a version of Monk who also neurotically scolds everyone all the time. Combine the halting neurosis of Terry Gross with the schoolmarmish lecturing of Brenda Jorett about how young people today no longer have the work ethic or the punctuality needed to succeed in the workforce, then blend that with the know-it-all international club nerd preening of Marco Werman and Michele Kelemen’s Wa Shing Ton Ian delivery style, and you’ll still only approximate what an excruciating embarrassment these assholes are. It isn’t just that they lack all morals and ethics, as the Republicans do; they can’t even stand up like competent adults in public and make their damn case. Instead they rarely go a week without saying or doing something to inspire sympathy with the bullies who would have shoved them into high school lockers. Even as thirty-year veteran members of Congress they act like whiny little wussies desperately seeking the approval of their worst peers, and despite being the sworn liberal left, won’t stop being tattletales and teachers’ pets. This is the team it takes to make the Republicans’ horrifying psychosexual perversions look respectable by comparison, just by virtue of being relatively functional, mature, and self-sufficient.

One of the latest examples of shitlib sniveling came from Nancy Pelosi. First off, it’s really cool that being a wealthy major landowner, employer of nonunion farm labor, Baltimore mayor’s daughter, and habitual hippie-puncher is now a premier form of leftist praxis and politics. That aside, though, maybe Nancy, as a sworn liberal, has abiding values about the inviolability of individual cultural liberty and the courage to defend them? Lol jk. “I love the National Anthem….and I love the First Amendment, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

Glad we cleared that up. This is the US Representative for almost the entirety of San Francisco, the sweet home of raucous left-liberal dissent, and she can’t be arsed to assert the right of unionized celebrity entertainers to defy compulsory public displays of patriotism. If she won’t breathe a word in defense of their right to express their individual consciences, she won’t do jack shit for any of the rest of us. These overwrought displays of national piety have nothing to do with the game they were hired to play. It’s Pentagon agitprop that is not in the contract, and the players have the solidarity and the market power to grind the entire league to a halt if Roger Goodell or any of his fellow executive sleazeballs try to insert it.

Then there’s the question of what in hell drove Pelosi to commit an unforced error in the course of trying to suck up to a constituency of racist reactionaries who have always despised her and always will. This is the sort of whinging capitulation traditionally attributed to Neville Chamberlain and the French. None of the people she’s trying to win over will show her any respect or forbearance in appreciation of her mealymouthed agreement with their framing. They’ll enthusiastically steamroll her all the same.

What she has accomplished is the further alienation of a widening swath of her base that already distrusts her for good reasons. For these voters, the ones who put her and her fellow travelers into office, liberalism is worthless if it doesn’t include the liberty to defy bumptious demands to worship the flag. If they wanted to do that, they’d have joined the goddamn Army and gotten a soldier’s pay for their trouble. The point of cultural liberty is that no meddlesome reactionary piece of shit can force an unwilling civilian to perform ritual acts of worship on demand. Liberalism is a philosophy devoted to the defense of liberty, in case words still have meanings.

Shit, even on military bases personnel run for cover whenever Colors is about to begin so that they aren’t forced to stand at attention saluting the flag. If active-duty military personnel regard this patriotic worship as something fit only for the color guard, who are assigned specifically to carry out that bit of hocus pocus twice a day and paid accordingly (less time writing bullshit PowerPoints, presumably), maybe the rest of us who didn’t sign up for any of that should recall that we didn’t sign up for it (duh), aren’t being paid for it (again, duh), and ought to have the civic pride to refuse to be bossed around by rogue martinets.

Nancy Pelosi, of all elected officials, shouldn’t be obsequiously catering to the easily offended feelings of a bunch of bigoted Zhdanovite pricks who hate her and her constituents and whom her constituents revile no less. This is terrible retail politics. The sick thing, however, is that it’s surprisingly effective wholesale politics, at least until the voters go into full revolt. She doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what her ordinary constituents think about this donnybrook; they aren’t the ones with all the campaign money. She’s trying to split that baby on the increasingly arrogant assumption that the rank-and-file voters won’t do anything about it and in the hope that all the sugar daddies and mommas paying the party off will keep cutting the big checks to their loyal servants.

She’s probably also trying to clear the path for barely electable centrist ciphers to execute the Manchin/McCaskill strategy with district electorates that are historically liable to vote for absolute gobshites. This makes sense for anyone who thinks that it’s an accomplishment for the leading center-left party to end up with a caucus including Joe Manchin. These numbskulls won’t stop acting like it’s an accomplishment for their party not to host the creeps whose lexicons include “legitimate rape” and “China people.” We might ask why they don’t instead deploy, say, Democratic politicians who are generally admired in West Virginia, but they’d rather lose with a slimy schmuck than win with a straight shooter who disses them for being crooks. We can’t have Bernie upstaging the kingmakers by helping revive a strain of mountain populism that they find yucky. It must be that the miners are all hicks who vote against their own interests and can’t see through a poseur like Don Blankenship–you know, the guy who came in fifth out of six in the total popular vote between the two primaries, a real popular down-home coal-mining country boy multimillionaire who lives in Las Vegas.

It happens so constantly that it must be a feature, not a bug: forthright, energetic, aboveboard candidates with muscular speaking styles and unapologetically robust platforms hit the trail and become popular, sometimes out of nowhere, and the party apparatus flips its shit about how uppity they are for standing up to establishment shitheads that everybody hates. It was the solemn duty of all feminists to be #WithHer, specifically, Hillary Clinton, in 2016, but now that Cynthia Nixon is running for the New York governorship with much lower negative ratings and a reform platform that inspires voters, it’s time for feminist solidarity to go into the shitter so that everyone can rally around the slimy incumbent putz. This crew never much cared for Zephyr Teachout, either, and it infamously hates Bernie Sanders. For these scumbags, the problematic candidates are always the ones who have popular platforms and don’t enter the race surrounded by an aura of scandal and sleaze. The divisive characters are the ones who don’t make voters want to vomit.

From a psychosexual perspective, the left-populist candidates act like worthy adult adversaries, the sort of grown-up plain dealers a Republican might respect in spite of their disagreements. As a matter of sheer political strategy, Donald Trump recognized that disgruntled Sanders primary voters were worth inviting into his coalition for the general election since they might get him over the top, and so he deliberately appealed to them from time to time and highlighted his agreements with Sanders. But that’s the kind of thing that happens when a candidate has a coherent electoral strategy. What happens when a candidate does not is Hillary. That crazy fucking bitch spent her entire campaign gratuitously demeaning voters whose support she demanded. Not taking Bernie on as her running mate alone showed how flippant and unserious she was about electoral strategy. Tim Kaine was an in-your-face fuck-you to everyone inland of Manassas. Bernie would have won as vice president, too, because he would have given voters positive reasons to vote for the ticket, but what do I know? I’m just a bitter BernieBro deplorable who refuses to admit that it was all Russia’s fault.

The reactionary right wing will always seize on signs of weakness and insincerity in its adversaries, whether real or imagined. The Democratic Party leadership might react by supporting the vigorous, upfront, no-nonsense populists who already caucus with the party or seek its nominations. So what does it do? Duh: it runs a sniveling collection of finger-wagging schoolmarms and oily putzes and then berates the electorate for being disloyal to these, its betters.

This is surreal. It inevitably pisses voters off, but beyond that, it fails by its own avowed standards. The Democratic establishment is always complaining about narrowminded economic populists forsaking crucial cultural liberties and trying to reinsert itself to hold the line, but in the case of this flag donnybrook, Nancy Pelosi has done nothing of the sort. She could have stood up and, on the twin bases of racial justice and individual freedom of conscience, told everyone trying to extort shows of patriotic fealty from the players to get fucked. She could have told the owners to count their blessings for being so successful and the bigoted fans to take their Zhdanovite whining back into their secret places, where it belongs. She could have told the fans that it’s their problem if they’re too upset by players’ politics to keep watching the games, and hence their decision to make about being ready, or not, for some FOOTBALL. She could have told them to love it or leave it. That was good enough for lefty dissidents, so it should be good enough for whining rightists. You don’t hear me whining about how George Clooney’s annoying politics make Money Monster problematic, or about how Clint Eastwood is too much of a crotchety old conservative geezer for me to watch Gran Torino.

Why can’t Nancy say anything of the sort? It probably comes back to the money and the cash, which she so welcomes. Leftists have been warning about this inherent contradiction of liberalism all along, about the inevitable abuse of campaign contributions to compel bad policies that no one but the bigshot donors want. The more thoughtful and quiet sorts of conservatives, as opposed to batshit crazy projectile reactionaries, have warned about this as well, and for overlapping reasons. Politicians become so insatiable for campaign money that they get bought off by ghouls. This assumes, rather charitably, that they aren’t absolute ghouls themselves.

The whole point of liberalism is that it protects ordinary citizens from authoritarian infringements of their liberties, including demands that they publicly worship the flag or other patriotic idols on command. If Nancy won’t assert the right of professional football players to refuse Pentagon-funded commands to salute the colors or denounce the owners and the league for treating their majority-black players with a contempt nearly worthy of Jim Crow, she sure as hell won’t stand up for my right not to pledge allegiance to a fucking stars-and-stripes hot air balloon upon its launch. I went along with it because I was too tired to walk away, but that bullshit is not a fucking regulation US Flag. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s a violation of the US Flag Code. It’s not that I give a shit about some dingus squad going to the expense of customizing a hot air balloon to look extra gay (the French: historically and today, a people of great heterosexuality), but if we’re here to properly revere Old Glory, that bag of gas ain’t it. If every passing image of some flag demanded immediate compulsory respect, Otis Redding would have sung the Liberian national anthem all day long.

When individual Democrats are worth something, I don’t mind voting for them. The problem for most of them is that being at all worthwhile or respectable or useful conflicts with being a bunch of simpering, equivocating, pants-shitting castrati who are chronically sore with their own constituents and their party’s most popular politicians for getting in the way of their consultant-class rackets. I’ll be Warren Harding to vote for any of that.

Midnight in the Garden of Food and Devil

Americans are being killed and sickened by contaminated lettuce again. Take a moment to think this over and consider what it means, not only to have this happening anywhere for any reason but to have it happening in what is widely regarded as the wealthiest and certainly the most powerful country on earth. Again, we aren’t hearing about hospitalizations and deaths from fecal coliform bacteria on meat, which has the guts near the good stuff and also a lot of stuff that oughtn’t be eaten but is; this is romaine. Field greens are supposed to be entirely segregated from the nasty.

We should be asking pointed questions about this scandal. For one, who shit on the lettuce? This last contaminated crop, like prior bad batches, was grown domestically, around Yuma. There was no foreign chain of custody for US food safety officials to have any difficulty tracing to the port of entry; this is on us. In another public safety win for the Department of Homeland Security, the shitleaf went through Border Patrol interior checkpoints on its way to market, but those jackbooted thugs are looking for a different leafy green, the maddening reefer, which, come to think of it, is now objectively safer to consume than lettuce. Hell, for that matter, cocaine is probably the most antiseptic substance on the money supply. #TheMoreYouKnow, baby.

Again, someone got shit on the lettuce, and no one in government stopped it at any point until unwitting customers had already started getting dangerously sick. By the time that happened, the potentially contaminated lot under recall advisory was huge. Officials were basically out shrugging and telling the public, eh, don’t eat romaine, then, I guess. It turned out that pretty much the entire romaine crop on the US market at the time had been grown around Yuma and that there weren’t many growers in the business. This was an industrial-scale agricultural concern that had befouled the fresh food supply. If your filthy uncle cooks dinner without washing his hands, your family might get sick. This was one of those deals where Uncle Shit works somewhere upstream in the cutting or boxing of fresh lettuce for the national market, but no one can tell where until there’s an outbreak to trace.

Romaine can be grown in a greenhouse or high tunnel anywhere in the country year round, but for some reason the entire winter crop is grown in one of the driest, most Aral Sea-ass agribusiness shitholes in the land. That reason is Mexicans. We divert their treaty water for our own uses, but then we’re all like, don’t mope around, now, amigo, we’ve got work here. I’m not kidding when I say that the location of these plantations is determined by the wetback supply, not the water supply. Sure, Yuma has deep dirt and a lot of sun, too, but it’s the last goddamn thing upstream of Mexico on a river that Las Vegas, Phoenix, Wickenburg, and Southern California are all jockeying to suck so dry that it never reaches the sea.

This is why we ask why the fuck anyone is growing lettuce there, when it’s a bullshit crop that can be grown on the kitchen windowsill at home if it’s that important. If the Mexicans stopped showing up to cut it, we’d get to hear the latest White Whine from farm country about how food is rotting in the fields again and also we’re being racist, but let’s be real here: there’s nothing racist about granting low-class Mexicans the same license as low-class Americans to go on welfare, and if romaine rots in the field, that means it can’t travel thousands of miles to rot in your fridge. How sad.

The American Gothic waste-not-want-not ethic is a myth. I actually believe in it, but no one in agribusiness or food processing does; everyone in the industry who whines about how the racist government-provoked wetback shortage is causing food to rot in the fields would gladly open a tank valve and pour milk into the river to goose disappointing commodity prices. These are not honorable people, as proven by their custom of importing crews of foreign field hands with no civic stake in the country to spend fifty to sixty hours a week stooped over making the same three or four cuts again and again and again. Gee, could that be why the work is so awful? Could it possibly be that a few thousand people are worked like donkeys in a salt mine for minimum wage to cut a crop that any fool could grow on a shelf in her apartment, without all the stooping?

Before you assume that there’s an applicable minimum wage just because the owners say there’s one, remember that these companies are using international labor arbitrage to hire desperate foreigners with limited English skills, including many who are present in the United States without work authorization. It would take a fucking ethnographic field study to ascertain the actual prevailing wages because the entire business is run by politically manipulative liars. It’s insane to believe a word out of anyone’s mouth from the crew bosses on up, unless it’s about how they knowingly hire illegals, because that’s something they definitely do all the time.

Nor will I bury the hatchet about how offensive, scandalous, and plainly evil it is for planters and their PR flacks to brag about how having destitute fifty-year-old diabetics with 40% of normal hand and wrist function bend down and whack the base of a lettuce stalk with a machete ten thousand times a week is a humanitarian and cultural exchange program. If the Mexicans all decide they wanna go play video games instead, I won’t blame them; that isn’t a life well examined or well spent, but it’ll be good for us, the assholes who expect them to keep showing up and wrecking their bodies cutting our lettuce for a pittance.

And if they keep having fewer and fewer babies to replace the aging farm workforce, again, we deserve it. It’s really interesting how this celebrated Mexican devotion to hard work and family which we celebrate at management’s encouragement is exactly what management wants to keep payroll expenses down. They obviously don’t want childless thicky tricks on birth control, already an East LA thing, to start being a Mexican thing in Mexico, too. It’s none of their damn business, of course, but that never stopped them.

The Chicana lady I have in mind washes her hands because she’s clean and wholesome. I’m not saying we need whores to start cutting our lettuce, but, geez, I’d say we need better handwashing protocols one way or another. Not getting one’s unwashed wiping hand all over the lettuce is kind of like not rawdogging a bunch of different strangers of visibly dubious health and hygiene: it’s basic, commonsense sanitation, but sometimes it’s too much to ask. Hookers are usually really fastidious about condom use, but we’re getting our field greens from crews that include the equivalent of crazy amateur bar skanks, in addition to ones whose instinctive standards of cleanliness are higher than the dangerously excessive demands of their jobs permit them to maintain. This is how we end up with people popping a squat and leaving gifts for their fellow laborers in the vineyard to unexpectedly encounter, or alternately skipping meals until after quitting time to suppress the urge to shit.

No sane and ethical society would tolerate any of this whatsoever. It’s entirely unacceptable and unnecessary. Absolutely nothing about it is inherent to farm work; it’s exclusively the result of hiring a few thousand unenfranchised foreign peasants to spend sixty hours a week doing work that a few hundred thousand or million Americans should be doing for an hour or two a week. The field greens industry invests jack shit in research and development for employee ergonomics for the same reason that it doesn’t provide portapotties within a manageable walk of the field: because it has this disposable foreign peasant workforce at its command.

That’s a workforce that can’t disappear from the United States fast enough. No, I’m not demanding another Operation Wetback. As I said above, video games are a reasonable alternative, at least for those not personally wasting their lives playing them. Besides, importing the Frenchies to do grunt work in New England and Upstate New York was a crackerized clusterfuck in its own right, and not just on account of Paul LePage. The point is that the class clashes between the poor and the higher classes are bad enough when everyone speaks the same language, so anyone trying to dual-track a foreign proletarian vulgate in alongside what everyone with a lick of honesty recognizes as the Lingua Franca has bad motives and is setting the entire society up for trouble. The whole Franco-Anglo thing in Canada seems to have gotten a lot less stupid and vicious as Canada has gotten its shit together and started solving its social problems. This societal advancement is much less forthcoming in Mexico; hence, among other phenomena, Central American refugees who don’t seek resettlement in a country better-governed than their own where they already speak the language, instead risking their lives crossing it to get to a much more alien land where they can more reasonably expect to survive.

Let’s get real: would anyone expect an acculturated, enfranchised, lower-middle-class American workforce operating in a well-regulated industrial regime to have the same difficulty abiding by professional standards of cleanliness? Americans are getting sick and literally dying (*Robert Dziekanski, overhearing the talk of Kwesi Millington’s home and native land* #MeToo, Biggie; you’re literally killing me) because what turn out to be critical food safety protocols are being left to harried foreign peasants working in ragingly lawless environments. These are not environments in which employees feel comfortable taking the time to properly wash their hands. Followup news items on the shitleaf have mentioned that it isn’t a problem anymore because the entire romaine industry has relocated to the Salinas Valley for the summer. Great, the place where they put an unimaginably shoddy-looking portable shitter on a trailer behind a school bus; I can’t imagine what would go wrong with a food safety regime being run in that physical context.

These are not the inscrutable mysteries of the salad field. This shit is Upton Sinclair for vegetarians. It’s the equivalent of a peddler’s cart full of unrefrigerated chicken meat that was dressed with a rusty steak knife. Businesses are allowed to sell this shit, which includes actual shit, because we don’t have laws around here. It’s a miracle that these outbreaks of foodborne illness don’t happen more often.

Please, to the fucking table.

State of the Unction: goobernatorial edition

The California gubernatorial primary debate on Tuesday night was mentally exhausting. If the candidates meant to wear their audience down to nothing in a war of attrition by means of bullshit, I guess they succeeded. At least they did with me, that is. The scary possibility is that there are actually constituencies for the garbage they’re flogging, and in the state that elected Kamala Harris to the United States Senate, that’s uncomfortably likely.

I listened to most of this dismaying spectacle on the radio, on the radio, Lord have mercy on us in this nightmare that Van and Fats utterly failed to stop. I don’t know whether the visual cues would have helped or hurt, or what either of these words even means anymore, and I’m not about to dial that shit up to see. To licentiously paraphrase Meat Loaf and his freak-ass songsmith Jay What’s-His-Name, I think it is (this is already a dumpster fire, so why not), two out of six not being really bad ain’t bad. If you insist on feeling sad for Argentina instead, realize that it’s probably at a higher state of civic and socioeconomic development than California right now. The Not Deplorable, as we might call them, were John Chiang and Delaine Eastin.

This is, however, all relative, as Mainers say when they’re dating. Chiang waded into the same swamp of crude language and thinking about the great virtuous strength of diversity that Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa so ostentatiously inhabit, and Eastin, by my assessment the best speaker of the entire lot, used her podium as a bully pulpit to decry adultery, as notoriously practiced by our old boys Gavin and Antonio. Then again, if an occasional sub-Brenda Jorett-level scolding about the most ridiculously unenforceable morals clause is the worst we’ll have to endure from our next governor, we’ll be in pretty good shape. I mean, just look at the fucking alternatives, including ones we’ve already suffered.

I mention from time to time the unfortunate truth that the Republicans are not the absolute worst political party. Not Tuesday night’s crop: for the life of me I could not fucking tell the two of them apart, Travis Allen and John Cox droning on in the same generically Midwestern accent and cadence to express the same wretchedly tired talking points about small government and personal responsibility in the same belligerently self-righteous speaking style. I tried, again and again, but I couldn’t distinguish them for a minute straight. Maybe it is because they are white. They both sounded like perpetually aggrieved faux-middle-class rich guys worth a good ten times more than they let on with an hour or two of talk radio five days a week, probably funded by some gross medley of mail-order dialysis supply companies and two-bit goldbug scams.

One of them, I forgot which within ten seconds if I even tracked it in the first place, barked that the obvious alternative to the high-speed rail debacle is $59 fares on Southwest. This stupid fuckhead didn’t mention that these fares come with conditions, often including 14-day advance purchase and by the way we’re all sold out, and then announced that Southwest would be expanding its extreme transfarency under his governorship to a new airport that he’d be building in the Central Valley. Maybe he believed this, or maybe not; I couldn’t tell. What I could tell was that it was absolute bullshit: Southwest doesn’t even fly to Fresno (I’ve checked), and that fool will not be building a new commercial airport. Nice El Toro “Great Park” you’ve got there. Nice John Wayne, too; shame if Harrison Ford buzzed some 737s there and then told air traffic control that he was the schmuck who did it.

These weren’t the only two with vocal oddities. I wasn’t sure at the time that I’d be able to tell Gavin Newsom apart from Jerry Brown in a voice lineup. On second thought, I guess it would be a matter of gauging just how much gravel is rattling around back there. Chiang’s delivery came across as surprisingly meek and foreign-accented, but otherwise normal enough. Villaraigosa, true to form, sounded as greasy as he looks and tied several of his sentences into retarded knots that could be untangled only in context. Eastin had the sheer delivery style needed to read the drive-time news on NPR, but not the head trauma. This is an unreasonable thing to ask, but imagine Mary Louise Kelly, but not a dork.

Okay, this is insane: I just looked Radio MLK up, and damned if she isn’t a certifiable MILF. This is every bit as crazy as the time I discovered that Marco Werman doesn’t look like a total twink.

If this is the slate we deserve, we’re a bad people. We should have had some inkling of this for a decade or two, to be generous and nostalgic about what we possibly were at our historic best. The two overall strongest candidates, Newson and Villaraigosa, are notorious greasies. The only way either of the Republican shitheads has a chance of winning the general election in November is if they both somehow beat an evenly divided Democratic field in the jungle primary with support barely worthy of Ross Perot in a good year. Newsom has supposedly pulled ahead of the Democratic pack, and whichever Republican asshat pulled ahead with the funding is supposedly well ahead of the other assshat, something that I really don’t care to look up again because not only are they both all-around bigoted pieces of shit, they’re also of questionable enough mental character that I’d hesitate to trust either of them to water my plants.

This assumes a counterfactual California in which I have a place to live with room for some plants. It’s useful to scale up this exercise in the California that might have been and perhaps once was to include everyone who got run out of the state by skyrocketing costs of living and trashed job markets over the past thirty years. If any of us are sitting around scratching our heads about how and why the electorate became so distorted in recent memory, and the politics so dysfunctional, this should help explain some shit.

To licentiously paraphrase Sir Robert Peel, the policy is the public, and the public is the policy. The difference, of course, is that we’re the ones paying the Highway Patrol overtime to roust the homeless from the Capitol Mall at nightfall and also to facilitate Sworn Coffee Hour all summer at the Truckee Starbucks. We also have an uncontrollably metastasizing force of rentacops, an often marginally employable and out-of-shape group drawn from that half of the working class that can be hired to run off and, if need be, kill the other half of the working class. (Get back to me about Chippies being working-class when they no longer own motorboats.)

The public we’ve got is, as the candidates so annoyingly reminded us, diverse; it is our strength. They’re straw-manning most of the electorate if they’re trying to imply that anyone considers it an ideal for the Mexican to hate the Chinaman, the Chinaman to hate the Negro, the Negro to hate the Mexican, the Irishman to hate everyone, and the Italian to be WASP enough for the West. Fit the Indian into this wherever you fucking please, cross your feathers and dot your whatevers.

There are hardcore racial bigots in California, including ones noted for their service in the Trump White House, but they’re a minority. They’re nowhere near numerous, organized, or aggressive enough to determine the state’s politics unless the Democrats all shit the bed of one accord. Many of the bigots who lived here into the eighties moved way the hell north and east sometime in the nineties; Mark Fuhrman, for one, is up in Idaho on the Whitey Rez now. What’s left behind is a bitter rump, surprisingly affluent, by the way, chronically sore about how many fucking wetbacks there are polluting the state whose menial labor they themselves have absolutely no interest in undertaking, and equally sore about how they can’t live on the beach without sharing their state with a permanent majority of shitlibs. Idaho has beaches, too, but they aren’t in Orange County. Every belligerently whiny shit like Stephen Miller can afford to buy a shack in Mountain Home to serve as his domicile for voting purposes, and maybe save some money on car registration; as it happens, Southwest does fly to Boise, although not to Bakersfield.

This crew is a fucking disgrace. I am not here to concede it any legitimacy. That said, the center-left deliberately misremembers the turnover of California’s population circa 1989-2000 as the Expulsion of the Deplorables, a righteous crowd-sourced reverse Ferdinand and Isabella deal that finally made the Golden State safe for the swarthy. This just ain’t so. White bigotry is not in fact an inverse function of income and net worth. This is provably untrue. There are bigots among the white middle and lower classes, but the Americans who were effectively run out of the state starting around 1990 by an overheating housing market and a faltering job market were in no way all bigots, and they were not all white. There is no way this group didn’t include large numbers of blacks and significant numbers of Chicanos. I wouldn’t be surprised if it included significant numbers of active enrolled members of Indian nations. This diaspora was not a mashup of Roseanne Barr, Archie Bunker, the Beverly Hillbillies, and the Scandinavians habitually ridiculed by Garrison Keillor. My parents and I were part of it. It followed a large hippie exodus that started by the mid-seventies. Only a fool would underestimate how crunchy and bleeding-heart the California diaspora has been.

In the absence of these millions of onetime Californians, overwhelmingly driven away by excessive housing costs, it has become dogma in the Democratic Party to imply, if not outright state, that the importation of Latin Americans as their replacements is hella woke. This line of thinking is advanced by dipshits whose soft bigotry prevents them from even guessing how many African-Americans were driven back east in the midst of this same demographic turnover for the same reasons, so of course they have a soft spot for noble savages of variable English proficiency and generally foreign nationality. Everyone in California politics wants to exploit Latinos as an ethnic client base; the Democrats demand their loyalty to whatever weak-ass half-measure market-mediated excuse for social democracy they’re flogging, and the Republicans unctuously ask the top decile or quartile to defect to the right as hardy immigrant entrepreneurs forever grateful to the United States for giving them the opportunity to show how much more employable they are than the native stock. The only reason this year’s Republican gubernatorial candidates don’t do this is that they’re too deeply bigoted to seek any overt association with the non-Asian minorities. This is a garbage process driven by garbage thinking.

None of the four Democratic candidates at the debate Tuesday night took a stand against neoliberalism. Eastin came reasonably close, but she went at it very obliquely and vaguely. Bernie Sanders was a strong second-place finisher in 2016, so this is not just a function of everyone to the left of center in California loving the shit out of the neoliberal order. I was receptive to Republican counterattacks on neoliberalism, but I didn’t hear any, and both of the Republicans sounded like they’d capture and work to death slaves if they were allowed to do so. One of them, John Cox, I think, bragged about how he’d voted for Gary Johnson because he’d disbelieved Trump’s claims of conservatism, i.e., because Trump had shown enthusiasm on the campaign trail for the interests of the working class. Villaraigosa kept spitting out the same brain-dead talking point about how he supports the gig economy and sharing economy of the future. Dude must have been too busy holding a full-time salaried position as the Mayor of Los Angeles to do sub-minimum-wage piece work for Mechanical Turk.

No one who shills for horseshit scams like Uber is actually supporting himself as an Uber driver. Ben Sasse’s bragging about how he goes back to Nebraska and drives for Uber to meet his constituents and get to know their innovative economy is as believable as any other millionaire insisting that his brat is learning the value of hard work and self-reliance by running a lemonade stand in the front yard. The point here is that these assholes are allowed to make up just about anything about their politics, political history, and political theory without anyone interviewing them calling bullshit on assertions that are flagrantly false and out of line.

The debate had the unfortunate appearance of a classic ethnic divide-and-conquer scam. Again, the only reason the Republicans didn’t wallow in this particular fray was that they were too bigoted to even try to pander to the nonwhites. They left this to a Democratic slate made up of an Asian accountant nerd, a female teacher nerd, a greasy Latino influence-peddler who was brought up as assimilated into Anglo culture as any of us, and a slightly less greasy old-line Money Whitey. Strangle me, Schneiderman.

When Villaraigosa spoke of how he’d had to learn Spanish as a teen to facilitate his activism, he was for real; against the odds, that clown’s native language is English. His entire shtick is basically how do you do, fellow Latins. This has some really fucked up implications for Anglo-Latino communal relations, especially as envisioned by our political leaders. Can you imagine how LA’s Westside Jews would react if some guy showed up talking to them in broken Yiddish? They’d probably look at him like he had two heads. If Benjamin Netanyahu came by and lectured them in Hebrew, someone would probably pipe up and tell him, oh, for God’s sake, drop the act, you’re from Philadelphia. It isn’t that there’s anything inherently bad about Hebrew, or Yiddish, or Spanish. The point is that none of these is the Lingua Franca. That’s English, and everyone fucking knows it. Encouraging Latinos not to learn it seems awfully ulterior.

Since we’re already discussing the Jews, for better and worse, let’s compare them to the Asians, specifically the Chinese, who are also a group proficient in shanda fur die goyim stunts. I’m not trying to dog on John Chiang here; he seems all right, to the extent that anyone from his grotesque party can be expected to be all right. That he didn’t sound like he had economically recoverable deposits of facial oil was character enough in a race against Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa, and second-best in a field of six is respectable unless all present are absolute garbage. But let’s not pretend that the overseas Chinese haven’t been bringing some ugly attitudes to California and exacerbating severe social problems that might well attenuate in their absence. It isn’t the Tingirideses who are demanding that the bums all be redlined out of Irvine, although this is English, so yes, that’s the plural. It’s the Money Chinee who are doing that.

And I don’t give a shit if I offend or scandalize them. What’s happening in Irvine, an overwhelmingly Asian city these days, is that they’re acting as an aggressive ethnic and class bloc, drawn disproportionately from immigrants, to keep poor Americans out of a city where they have an inalienable civil right to seek settlement as birthright US citizens. These same ghouls would be demanding that the government round up all the peasants and repatriate them to whatever internal provincial shithole birthed them if they were still living in the old country. Instead, they’re in my country, doing everything they can to dispossess my countrymen for being poor. This is wrong.

Again, this isn’t about John Chiang as their coethnic. Demanding that he do something about a group of racist bourgeois supremacists who raise hell whenever the county proposes siting a homeless shelter in their city would be like some random Chinaman demand that I do something about Harvey Weinstein as my fellow Jew. It isn’t that that motherfucker couldn’t be cause for anti-Semitism, or that I’m not Jewish enough to catch the blowback, but anecdotally, I find that full-blooded Jews are more cognizant of what a shit he is than gentiles, and I certainly have nothing to do with that freak. But the idea that any of us owes respect to a constituency that is acting like an ethnic colonist mob in our country is offensive and absurd. This is the same spirit of colonial aggression that gets overseas Chinese firebombed by the angry ethnic Malays they’ve dispossessed.

And for the love of God, let’s shut the fuck up, now and forevermore, about model minorities. This shit has nothing to do with ethnic comity. What’s actually happening here is that Latin American peasants are being imported as generalist scabs and educated Asians as specialist scabs. I don’t need a hive of clannish bourgeois supremacist shitheads who are scheming to take over entire city governments at the expense of vulnerable Americans to stick around in the interest of cultural exchange; bitch I can make my own hot and sour soup from scratch.

No, I am not a racial bigot. I’m complaining about specific social problems resulting from specific campaigns of bad faith by specific, and often local, constituencies. These include many of California’s premium crackers. Praising Mexicans for fixing us tacos and working harder than Americans is just fucking vile, and I dare say that Cesar Chavez would have been every bit as disgusted as I am by this condescending cultivation of pet scabs.

Are we really going to spend another 150 years as a state serially importing the most desperate and grasping people we can find from the four corners of the earth to serve as scab blocs and then denouncing whoever the hell is still around as a native stock, of whatever ethnic and racial background, for criticizing the resulting social problems and quite reasonably blaming them on interlopers with no civic virtue and a distorted, hostile, exclusive sense of community? If past is prologue, oh hell yes we will. Or maybe we’ll get another forty-year hiatus during which a government actually serving its constituents’ interests stops Stanford and Crocker from importing every surplus Chinese peasant their agents can find.

I have yet to find a proposal to restore California to a state of broad middle-class stability without any hint of nativism, and I don’t see why enfranchised constituents from long-established families and communities shouldn’t be higher priorities for elected officials than insular groups of immigrants who do what they can not to integrate into American society. When push comes to shove, most of this horseshit about multiculturalism and diversity is really just a scam to keep all the different servants around, orchestrated by influential affluent people who do everything they can to shelter and segregate themselves from the foreign hordes they so ostentatiously welcome into the state and the country. Like hell are these fools socializing with kitchen workers in Chinatown or farmworkers in Mecca.

There’s enough constant churn in the California electorate to keep this scam viable. For every normal, integrated, acculturated middle-class family with useful skills that is driven out of the state, a roughly equal number of Mexican peasants and H1B code slaves will be brought in to run the joint, along with a useless-as-all-hell domestic hipster or two to pretend to be employed, employable, and engaged in the work of American cultural continuity. Delaine Eastin’s campaign as the one credible gubernatorial candidate out of six whose public comments are affirmatively intelligent and thoughtful is frankly a higher grade of statewide politics than we could have expected of California, given who keeps showing up to try to hijack it. Thomas Jefferson Cares. That isn’t a sentence; that’s a gubernatorial candidate. The Republicans running this year are too decadent to try to stop hipsters from moving into Midtown Sacramento to be closer to the grilled cheese festival; they’re too entangled with the Mexican day laborer-intersectional construction industry to lift a finger to that scam.

This is why I insist on voting here. I’ll be damned if these shits will drive me out of the electorate of the state where I spent the first ten years of my life. My prospective neighbors in Midtown may not deserve so much civic resolution, but my plants damn well do. Say what you will about California having shitty fiscal stewardship, but never forget that my tax dollars are paying for a top-notch free arboretum, no fence, no wall. Among other things, of course, including the fucking Highway Patrol. But remember this, too: there is no natural law dictating that horticulture worthy of Brazil around the capitol is contingent upon Brazilian socioeconomics throughout the state, and if there is, we can use positive law to repeal it.

I’m not entirely sure that that made sense, but it was far too intelligent for statewide office in California.