Gerald Ford at Heaven’s Gate

One of the most haunting Inside Baseball stories to emerge from modern American political life is the story of Gerald Ford telling his golfing buddies that he was sure he would go to hell for pardoning Richard Nixon. This story was publicized by Hunter S. Thompson, a man who famously found his own measure of peace towards the end after a career of fastidiously measured commentary, so we can make of it what we will, but the possibility that it wasn’t 100% bildungsroman fiction or otherwise total bullshit gives me pause.

The implications are eerie. Most glaringly, Ford had resigned himself to his own looming damnation because he had a conscience. Without one, he would not, as they say, have given a damn. Whatever he was feeling, whatever combination of regret, haunting, fatally poor judgment in a time of crisis, or tragic political destiny, these were the thoughts of a man capable of moral thought and willing to engage in it despite the fear and the pain.

Or, as his incidental biographer would say, the loathing. By the way, did you know that the hippie Boomer swarm now has earnest hagiographies of Thompson on film? You probably didn’t want to know that, but you do now. #TheMoreYouKnow, assholes. Incorrigibly parasitic and belligerently entitled Boomer shitheads living vicariously through the storied moral clarity of their tortured mad-genius auteur senpai is always a scene of beauty. Truly this is a tapestry that ought to be chucked into the fucking wood stove once we’re done burning the all the combustible death-trap fixtures on the commune, since it really isn’t and never has been one. Not that it would necessarily be a bad idea to burn it all down at once, or that I have any idea what 1946 birth cohort ever gave an uppity youngster like me the concept of arson as praxis.

Sure, Thompson could be legit wack, and he was temperamentally one to comingle fact and opinion, but the essay of his that I linked ran in the Atlantic, which employs professional fact-checkers, so that probably isn’t just a cock-and-bull story that the old boy made up for the moral force or the lulz. And as I said, it’s haunting. In the archival imagery, Ford consistently looks more at peace than many of his predecessors, especially Nixon and LBJ, and at least two of his successors, Bush II and Trump. He pulled some dipshits moves when he was in Congress, but in no way did that make him special, and it’s painful to imagine a man who completed his presidency with such public grace and decency quietly bearing such a burden in his old age.

The possibility that he was damned by his own conscience is even scarier. Does this mean that psychopaths, who are so numerous in politics, outmaneuver the judgment seat precisely because they are so soullessly evil? Do these ghouls actually corrupt the source code so utterly that they, of all people, can evade judgment? Given how demonically they carry on here on earth, it’s worth pondering, but not enjoyably so. If life is in fact the one-night stand that forever is not, think about what this may mean, and be thankful that I’m not meming Bryan Adams for thoughts on heaven. *Glen Campbell, back on the line, as he is from time to time* Well, I can’t say that dying didn’t at least spare me some of this ridiculous horseshit, but God help y’all if that fucker ever leaves the airport when he flies through Houston and is allowed near a computer after that. *I’m afraid this sidebar’s over.* Seriously, does Dick Cheney ever give these things a moment’s thought? W? Henry Kissinger?

All three are still among us. Kissinger looks like hell, whence so many think he came, and has for years, and yet he’s still hobnobbing with leaders who would be too embarrassed to associate with him in public if they didn’t hold the rest of us in dripping contempt. Ford wasn’t some It’s a Wonderful Life-ass nightgown cunt of a heavenly do-gooder, but the grotesque swathes of what came before and after him in high office make him look positively good, and we’ll never be able to grope our way to decent leadership again if we don’t keep the memories of what we’ve done halfway right in the past. I’m not trying to bitch and whine about the Donald as some special apocalyptic aberration, either; Jimmy Carter is the only successor to Ford in the presidency to date who had the decency not to flagrantly degrade their office for scandalously crude and selfish reasons.┬áIf Ford thought he was going to hell for what he did in office and no other modern president felt likewise after examining his own conscience, that speaks eloquently well of Ford and terribly of the others.

What makes this story really perverse is that Ford was sure that he would be damned because he had shown mercy. This may have something to say about the nature of mercy and its flaws, but what it really speaks to is the sheer dysfunction and perversion of American politics. The crux of Ford’s guilt for pardoning Nixon was that he had established moral hazard. This would be a much more compelling argument if Tricky Dick hadn’t just been driven from office by a Congress outraged enough to impeach him. Congress hadn’t even had to follow through with a trial and removal from office; the threat to do so had been adequate. Nixon had already faced a significant measure of justice and accountability; resignation in lieu of trial has always been an option for officials facing impeachment, because impeachment is expressly a mechanism to compel sitting executive officials to prove their fitness for office when a quorum of legislators question it.

The crooks and thugs who eventually followed the Nixon Administration included some real choice pieces of shit, but Ford had no way to predict any of that. There was no way to predict Oliver North by extrapolating from Chuck Colson. There was no way to extrapolate Reagan as president from anyone who preceded him in that office, and it would have been extremely difficult to predict his policies as president from those he pursued as the governor of California. The only arc that anyone could have followed without functionally supernatural powers of observation and prediction was that Sunset in America would continue to be a vapid dogwhistling bullshitter. Not a decade after Ford’s retirement, the Republican Party started going in a direction that had nothing to do with him or those around him. Ford was never the one collecting the country’s worst religious busybody wackos, starve-the-beast supply-side asshats, and latter-day robber baron scumbags.

The fundamental mistakes in Nixon’s aftermath weren’t even his to make. Ford had retired after an exceedingly long career in public office, and sensibly and decently so. No one anywhere else on the political spectrum had the power or the political skill to stop the unsavories from commandeering the GOP and redirecting it to their ill ends. By the time Congress started seriously demolishing its credibility as stewards of the powers of impeachment and removal, Ford was quite elderly and a critical mass of his nominal fellow-travelers in the GOP had no interest in what he thought of their mummery and grandstanding. The Clinton impeachment, followed as it was by the Bush, Obama, and Trump nonimpechments, did a great deal of damage to the credibility of national political norms, but that wasn’t on Gerry Ford. The sexually repressed wacko hardliners in the GOP brought articles of impeachment over a blowjob, and since none of Slick Willie’s successors have been impeached for extreme civil liberties and due process violations or verbal outbursts of gross public immorality, a norm has been established that impeachment is an impotent mechanism (giggity) for loudmouths with skeletons in their own closets to use when they’re butthurt that the president is getting too much action from his plump Jewess.

*Larry Craig, taking the typical wide stance* I wasn’t jealous of HIM, you naughty little twerp! When our leadership class has recently included such gems as Gateside Downlow, J. Denny Dundiddly, and the Third Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions, we’d be jerks to try to lower the boom on Gerald Ford, or to agree with him for being so painfully hard on himself and so despairing of his own fitness for godly mercy.

Honestly, Ford should have gone to mass. He should have gone to Rosary gatherings. There wasn’t any need for him to convert, but that was a man whose inherited Protestant faith failed to provide him the guidance he needed through an especially difficult moral quandary that would have tried any president. Carter has never noticeably been failed by his Baptist faith, nor was Nixon by his Quakerism, but Ford would have been well advised to go to mass and the Rosary, find an out-of-the-way seat, and listen and be still. He needed that. He was a prominent object lesson on why we pray for our dead.

To be sure, he would have made a great first Catholic ex-president. That would have been badass as fuck. By Zapruder we haven’t had one yet, no matter how fervent we may insist that we would cherish him above Ruby. Tricky Dick would have made himself a respectable credit to the faith, too; peace at the center isn’t exactly Catholic, but it’s close enough. (Mainly it’s too Anglo-Saxon in its phrasing.) No, I’m not trying to be cute or start a flame war or anything. The old crook knew that he was troubled. He was humble enough to recognize that he had gotten grandiose. Besides, much of the reason why he looks so bad is that his contemporaries in Congress were assertive enough to hold him to account. They didn’t just talk about booting his ass out of the White House, as they feebly and ridiculously do these days when Trump mouths off with his latest heinous outburst.

If you want a scandalously bad RCIA hotshot candidate, try Mocha Haole in all his chameleonic smugness. Try the Big Dog or LBJ, both of them incorrigibly slippery Dixie sleazeballs. Go figure that it wasn’t a man of chastity or decorum who showed up in Washington with those initials. As he supposedly said, banging his fist on the table, I’ve had more damn women by accident than the Kennedys have had on purpose! Whether he said that or not, that’s truer than Gerald Ford’s irreversible and eternal damnation, and if we’ve five minutes to put Signora up against the wall in this, our time, rightly divided, we oughtn’t spend it praying for any of those three because they perhaps came to some grief in an indulgence of horn.

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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.

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.

A room in That Place

Bill Cosby is Emmett Till now. His wife says so herself. Being allowed to go home to one’s mansion on house arrest and bond pending sentencing for sexual assault, including sexual assaults committed in the same mansion against an accuser in the criminal trial just concluded, is tantamount to being lynched for whistling at a woman in the general store. #TheMoreYouKnow, etc.

That’s a house full of memories, a house emptier than sometimes, perhaps, but does one simply forget all the pills one passed out, all the ladies of questionable presence of mind one romanced? Surely not. That would be like being blind, cane-dependent, and befuddled at trial and suddenly looking all sighted, animated, and spry on the walk out to the Lincoln for that last springtime drive back to Cheltenham. It’s unimaginable that the famous actor put on, what do we call that, an act. The gentleman was always too classy to cuss, but he knew better than to let that prosecutor accuse him of owning a plane without interrupting him and calling him an asshole. That’s another commonality between Cosby and Till: being allowed to go home on bond pending sentencing as a convicted sex offender with sixty on-the-record accusers after calling the district attorney an asshole in open court. The Cosbys have a perfectly normal sense of justice and the direction of its historical arc. It calls to mind Dr. King’s famous “God damn you, you said I own an airplane” speech, with its famous closing line, “Preacher man don’t own a damn plane!”

The struggle is real.

Bill Cosby will presumably soon have the opportunity to make new memories in a bigger house. It was a beautiful springtime day in the neighborhood the afternoon he was driven home (*wistful Fred Rogers voice* Well, I don’t recall that we ever saw anything that freaky from the trolley), and it should be a beautiful day when he’s driven to Camp Hill for intake and orientation with new neighbors. As the internet helpfully points out, the fellow got into trouble for pudding his pop where it didn’t belong, and so, we suppose, off he goes in a few months to “that place.”

I sometimes wonder about how convicts who don’t get caught until late in life adjust to prison relative to hardened careerists who have been in and out their whole lives, but not in the sense in which Wee Willy was in and out of that where it wasn’t supposed to be. Let your guard down around him and he’ll pound your cake, too, baby girl. There are prisoners who get started on that shit at juvie, and then there are ones like Our Lord Joseph’s Servant Gerald, sexy male code enforcement officer Lynn Rader, Lawrence of the Labia, and J. Denny Dundiddly. Some of these must not expect to end up with their “room” in “that place,” or to have their grown daughter on the record complaining about how pretentious they are not to call it their cell, as Dennis Rader’s did. That fool complained to the police during his interrogation that they had used subterfuge to catch him and that wasn’t fair, in contrast to breaking into people’s houses and torturing them to death. Then again, he seems to have adjusted better than average to incarceration. Jerry Sandusky complained to his lawyers that he’d go batty if he had to keep spending so much time in that little cell. The last two on that list haven’t had anything to say about their reactions to their own federalization, but it was fun to watch the Mandatory Minnesotan roll his wheelchair into that fucking curb.

This is only partly a frivolous intellectual exercise. The only morally compelling purpose of prisons is the segregation of dangerous criminals in a place where they can’t harm the innocent. That place works for this, we might say; if we may be raders of turns of speech, it has rooms, and room. The moment we start trying to use prison to punish criminals per se, we go off the deep end. This impulse turns all too easily into an uncontrollable outburst of the Id. I’ve had my own thoughts about the civic virtue of putting Dennis Rader on a stretcher and sticking him headfirst into the bottom of a fermentation tank for a quicker and more merciful death than he granted his victims, just to be done with him, but I really don’t care for what those mere idle thoughts did to degrade my own humanity. The penal system isn’t just about what’s to be done with a relative handful of degenerates and thugs; it’s also about what we can do not to turn into them ourselves as a society. This latter impulse is why Lynn Majors was given CPR the day he died; his jailers were there to keep him safely away from people he’d be inclined to hurt, not to hurt or kill him. And, yes, he was dead sexy right up to the end; you’d better believe it. The latter impulse is why bailiffs tackled and restrained the angry father who tried to assault Larry Nassar during his sentencing. Once any of this becomes a matter of vengeance, all bets are off, and the whole enterprise can get out of control and ugly in a hurry. This is not a line that’s safe to cross.

In many cases, the justification for incarcerating convicts who don’t pose a detectable ongoing threat is dubious at best, and justice delayed really is justice denied. The Menendez boys were low recidivism risks by the time they were convicted, and the authorities had been pretty diligent throughout the investigation of their parents’ murders. Stephanie Lazarus had practically a zero chance of recidivism by the time she was arrested. Rader was apparently retired to a life of peace by the time he finally walked into the trap he’d helped the police set. Shit, prison guards sometimes say things like, oh, murderers are fine, much easier to deal with than your thieves and con artists. They assume that when Bernie, the one who Madoff with everyone’s money, shows up at the Jewish gentlemen’s kaffeeklatsch, he’s there to play something more than mere chess.

High-profile sexual perverts may or may not still be threats by the time they were caught; Sandusky and Nassar probably were, Cosby most likely less so. The damning thing about their delayed detection and capture, however, is that everyone around them covers for them and dictates what their victims are allowed to say. We’ve already named, and righteously nicknamed, three guys who took advantage of popular school athletic programs that no one in town had the nerve to challenge, one of these also hiding under the auspices of a highly regarded national Olympic program. Lord Pound Cake, like Harvey Weinstein, slithered around under the auspices of screen entertainment juggernauts. These guys spent decades being allowed to do whatever the fuck they wished. The ethical standards of collegiate athletics in the United States were conclusively shown to be useless when Bobby Knight was not barred from the Indiana University campus on pain of arrest for throwing the chair. Millington, do you copy? That same fucker faced no legal consequences for strangling a player, although he was fired.

Jailing any of these notorious hotheads and creeps decades after the fact does nothing to stop them from preying upon the vulnerable during their interminable careers. It’s window-dressing. The obvious solution is to stop allowing famous entertainers, producers, coaches, and the like to indulge in severe behavioral problems and commit crimes of violence and deviance with impunity because they’re entertaining and profitable. It’s painfully obvious, in fact: these shitheads and the ones following in their footsteps need to be stripped of their privilege. If they’d been denied their privilege from the start and held normally accountable for their shitty behavior all along, we’d hardly need jails for them. In a well-governed, healthy society, it would be enough in most of these cases to fire these assholes from positions of authority, give their victims access to the civil courts, and warn those they’d groom to stay away from them because they are, for example, notorious Quaalude baes.

This is nowhere near happening, of course; just this week it emerged that the Redskins trafficked their cheerleading squad into Costa Rica for some passport-free unpaid escorting under duress. Holding these assholes accountable to the law like anyone else is a nice idea, though. Put me in for that, Coach*; I ain’t playin’.

*Ew, Hastert, not you.

Jimmy quit, Jody got married, shoulda known we’d someday get Gross

It could be worse. We could talk about the other Terry and relapse into acute Kathoholicism. We’ve done that before.

Nah, only on NPR could it be worse. So guess what? It’s on fucking NPR. I’m trying to boycott this interview with a navelgazing Limey songstress I could have sworn I’d never heard of in my life, and since I haven’t opened any of the overly copious NPR livestreaming services on my laptop, I’m currently succeeding. *Terminal Robert Dziekanski voice* And I guess you could say I’m “current” ly dying over here.

God, what a shock that always is. If you go to the trouble of listening to that interview or reading the highlights, neither being anything that I’d recommend, you’ll discover that it’s worse than anything I have to say about the RCMP. I.e., mostly about how they killed that one Pole, but there’s no reason it can’t be about how they sexually harass their own. For the same reason, the linked interview is worse than anything NPR will ever have to say about maladjusted Mounties, artistically or otherwise. If we’re going to carry on about dipshits with residual feudal duties to the Queen and chronic sociosexual dysfunction, we ought to carry on about the ones with the clipped cadences and the equally fine-ass two-tone field blues, not some borderline-Eurotrash emo civvy in a poorly fit Marimekko-style top and her excessive discography. We might as well at least find a crew that dresses well for its sexual harassment and its command mismanagement, not the lady who looks like she’s wearing long sleeves to hide the cutting scars on her forearms. Let’s call it “Of Corporals, Cocksuckers, and Cowardice.” Let us all, in one spirit, lift up our voices from the fish pond to the sky and rundel in that jungle.

NPR can’t even put the fun into the dysfunction. It’s not as if they’re spending the hour interviewing someone who’s mature, organized, and focused on the important things. This is someone who released an antinatalist retrospective on the virtues of hormonal birth control, in song. Contraceptive music exists, and it’s every bit as bad as pro-life music. One didn’t want a baby, but then one wanted a baby, and by then it was hard to have a baby. Additionally, Tracey Thorn has records about how much it sucks for a girl to not really be one of the guys even though she’s in their band, to be denied the traditional male license to be a derelict permaflaneur (because this is totally about sex and has never been about class), and to date a romantic derelict with a guitar who turns out to be emotionally hostile or distant or flaky or unstable or some shit. A woman, she tells us, can have a guitar, too.

Don’t look at me all weird for publishing Gerry and the Heartstoppers “tunes.” I’m not involved in any of the above horseshit. True story: I once got halfway involved in a love triangle with a bipolar chick whose main boyfriend, the one she wouldn’t disclose to her parents because they were Catholic and he was a Jewish atheist, met her because he was working on a documentary about Charlie “Murder is the Charge!” Robertson and she was babysitting for the district attorney. That whole thing was a dumpster fire by week four or five. I turned into a horrible emotional mess when it undeniably failed. I didn’t publish a fucking sob song about it and then go on NPR. Neither did I ever, nor do I plan to ever, pollute the Anglophone songbook with emo shit about how the thicc Jewess with the dead sexy Chicagoland accent who probably wanted to fuck me but I couldn’t tell because she turned me off with what seemed to be her idea of foreplay, specifically, pushing all five fingernails against my kneecap, hard, and spreading them out in unison.

This shit doesn’t need to be on NPR. It’s why we have YouTube and blogs. If you’re feeling (Mos)sad about these things, sing a song, and you’ll feel better, and I’ll feel better if you keep it to your damn self. It makes all too much sense that Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara” is a wistful pro-life ballad. Are we all supposed to be sad that what’s-her-name aborted the Henley brat? It was, like, forty years ago, and it wasn’t our fucking kid. Do we really have to keep hearing about that? Some family friends, also Baby Boomers, who were dating back then eventually had a child because they got queasy about the repeated abortions that resulted from their unplanned pregnancies, and now they have grandkids, but again, they didn’t commemorate it in a fucking acoustic storm.

Speaking of desperadoes, etc., it seems that the Henley fellow was inspired to vomit out his own god-awful bit of musical moralizing about the wrongfulness of gossip because he was starting to be accused of being a mob-adjacent Roy Moore-grade Quaalude teenybopper. Or, as Rex Tillerson might say, moron this shortly.

We’d all do better if the entirety of our public discourse about family values or the lack thereof were a Socratic monologue with Ali G.: “Sex: what is it all about? And babies: what is THAT all about? Is it good, or is it wack?” The moment people with opinions on this shit try to express them in cultural media, we end up with mewling assholes getting airtime in Redding to sing about letting all the babies be born. That shit won’t stop abortion. It will, however, degrade music.

None of these fuckheads, on either side of our wedge issues, is making society better through artistic advocacy. It isn’t a Satanic red herring to point out that allowing elevated levels of lead to persist in public drinking water supplies, and not just in Flint, either, has horrible effects on prenatal, neonatal, and childhood health and development. Hardcore pro-lifers put me off with their shrillness and enemy-of-the-good idealistic extremism, but I am not concern-trolling the movement by pointing out that their failure to raise hell over the contamination of water supplies right here in the United States demonstrates their insincerity and incoherence. Lead contamination is causing women to miscarry when they want to carry their babies to term. Ritually yelling at the Congress and the Supreme Court every spring doesn’t do a damned thing to remedy this ongoing disaster. You might as well take the youth ministry group down to the Tidal Basin to contemplate life and death, time and eternity, and the gratuitous sexuality of fruitless flowering ornamental plants under the cherry trees. I might as well go down to the Capitol Mall in Sacramento to contemplate how bitchin’ Senegal date palms are under the Senegal date palms. The rains can bless that, too, right here, right now. Alternately, we can bless the sprinkler system, only to have the state turn parts of it off for months on end to show Californians what a dry lawn looks like. #TheMoreYouKnow.

The Boomers are great for anyone who wants to listen to complaints about how having children is terrible and also not having children is terrible, and the only possible way to resolve this existential crisis is public art therapy. The pro-life vs. pro-choice standoff is not all that much more than two dueling lobbies of bougies with too much time and disposable income on their hands defaming one another for the feels. If they wrote “Anything Helps, God Bless” on their signs instead, they might get a positive return on their investments, but hooray for our signs, amirite. On our leading public radio afternoon arts show, the antinatalist-turned-natalist of these complaints get mixed up with grievances about how, aw oyt, mate, back when I was twenty Oy had some mates who were in me band and they didn’t act like Oy was to’ally one of them because me was a chick, not a bloke. Yeah, not having a perfect clique of friends in one’s teens and twenties is possible only for chicks, not for dudes.

Terry Gross could have asked, so, like, do you have cousins or siblings who have kids, so you could maybe, like, be involved in their lives instead, you know, but that would have been off-topic in a discussion about how the coordination of one’s own family planning, feminism, and possible woke polyamorous lesbianism is le hard and merits the more than occasional song. Plus, it would upset the neoliberal apple cart to question the breaking up and dispersion of what would otherwise be intact extended families. If we discover that this is deleterious for Limey cunts with disposable income, we might discover that it’s really bad for indigent New Orleanians, and if that happened we might start voting for elected officials who scandalize NPR’s sponsors.

There are from time to time artists who can cover these themes appropriately: Croce, Joel, Rodriguez, Winehouse. None of them are this emo Limey cunt who just spent most of an hour on the radio, more like Whinehouse, I have to say. It isn’t due to the Jews; look at the Jews we embargo in this discourse. Sure, half-Jews, mostly, but that never stopped Jeff Bezos from being absoslute piece of shit. If I’m off dicking some hooker who already has kids, at least I’m not singing piss-ass songs about the piddling deficiencies of my family life when I could be devoting my energy to expressing more serious grievances that might be resolvable instead, and neither is the hooker. The only song we need about that is the one about how they tried to make me go to Rahab.

I’m probably pissing into the wind by mouthing off about NPR again when I know where to find wild bay laurel three miles from here, but at least I just missed half of Fresh Air, all of that fucking Boston international relations dorkfest with the Werman twerp, and the first broadcast of Marketplace. I also missed a rare opportunity to meet Donna Apidone, Devin Yamanaka, and Randall White People in person at New Helvetia. Now, how DO I keep misspelling that man’s name? I have no idea what’s happening, Randall; I’m just a fat cracka who spends too much time on the light rail. I could have actually fucking met these fools today; not sure I’d have had to pay for the honor, in which case no way in hell was I meeting any of them. Say what you will about my knowing who they are and how to spell their names; that can’t say anything good about me. Just remember this: what bougies who maybe didn’t have kids when they should have need is friends or therapists; they don’t need platforms or audiences, and you don’t need that set of fucking Cap Radio pint glasses.

What’s going on, Ed, back home in SoCal is better than any of this shit up here. I really have to go, though, both because I’ve had enough internet for the afternoon and because it’s that time of day again when there are updates at least every half hour regarding legal developments involving the President’s outside counsel, the dirty movie lady, and maybe even that prune-ass sticky-fingered roller shithead from the Auburn Police Department. No time for a roast, Joey; this is civics.

13:12 to Tombstone: great Los Angeles detective work with the other Lyle M.

When you’re investigating a homicide–maybe not you specifically, and certainly not me, lol; it ain’t me, Lawd, it ain’t me on the fast track to RHD–but still, when you’re investigating a homicide, you always want to ask the victim’s loved ones about who they think may have had a motive to kill. If the victim’s father then tells you that you ought to look into the victim’s husband’s ex-girlfriend because she’s a crazy jealous stalker, you’ll want to look into the jilted ex, the policewoman scorned, if you will.

Lol jk, of course you wouldn’t do that. Dad’s been watching too much TV. Duh. The Valley home invasion crew must be back on its bullshit again. It’s not like cops ever have temper problems that cause them to snap and kill anyone, and besides, it would be crazy to focus on an LAPD beat cop just because she used to date the victim’s husband and took the breakup so hard that she showed up on the hospital floor where the victim worked as a nurse to yell at her about the man they couldn’t share. It must have been the Latin home invasion squad that bit the victim like a cougar and didn’t take any of the electronics. That’s what home invasion robbers do to victims they’ve never met: leave behind all the cool shit they could stuff in a van to pawn later and have a woman bite the homeowner so hard that she leaves DNA and tooth marks. It must have been the local Latino lowlives, both of them male and otherwise basically interested in breaking in and jacking shit, who had the motive to do that.

Dad’s been watching too much TV.

Everyone who tries to justify bad cops as “just a few bad apples” twists that proverb until it’s totally FUBAR. The original proverb teaches that a few bad apples are all it takes to rot the entire barrel. The point is blunt: don’t put anything rotten in there, because if you do, it will spoil everything else beyond redemption. *Artfully licentious Stephanie Lazarus voice* It’s pronounced “Rutten.” It took the LAPD two decades to reopen the Sherri Rae Rasmussen homicide case after the original lead detective, Lyle Mayer, botched it the first time, and by the time the department got around to it, Lazarus, the one Mayer should have taken seriously as a suspect the first time, was working on the same open-plan floor at Parker Center as the Robbery-Homicide Division, the top-level detective division normally responsible for investigating the city’s most sensitive homicide cases.

Once the LAPD reopened the Rasmussen case, it did a great job, and Stearns and Jaramillo reported for work dressed for success. Mayer, dogshit though he was the first time around, cooperated at trial. The problem was that he fucked the case up so badly in 1986 that by the time the LAPD got around to picking it out from its thousands of other cold cases, the suspect was working on the same fucking floor as RHD, so the task force investigating Lazarus needed to maintain D-Day-level operational secrecy until she’d been placed under arrest. That’s why the investigation was run out of an unmarked conference room in the San Fernando Valley and no part of it was brought back downtown until the morning of the arrest.

Imagine, if you can, the utter clusterfuck that would have been possible if Lazarus had been promoted into RHD herself. She wasn’t some no-name slacker biding time until she could retire. Other than her own homicide background, she was perfectly up to RHD’s standards. When she was arrested, she was one of two detectives on the art theft detail, in ways a more elite and selective detail than RHD, and her senior partner, Don Hrycyk, said she was hands-down the most skilled partner he’d ever had in that assignment. Statistically, Lazarus had a higher chance of making RHD than Art Theft, just like any other LAPD detective, and she probably had a better than departmental average chance of getting into RHD, given that she was assigned to Art Theft because she was good at her job, not because the brass liked to use her detail as a lemon bin for the long-term storage of useless lifers who weren’t blatantly bad enough to fire.

This is one of the craziest things about the Lazarus saga: she was in most regards an exceptionally good cop. It’s wrong to downplay or excuse murder, but by most accounts Lazarus really had her shit together, did her job well, and was reasonably socially popular around Parker Center. God knows there’s worse infesting most US police departments, murderers or not. So, no, I am not here to begrudge a one-time murderer with a functionally zero recidivism risk her career or her pension (more workers should get pensions), and I’m not here to preen about how she finally got what was coming her way. The American penal state is wildly out of control, and Lazarus’s sentence is an element of this metastasis, although a fairly minor one.

I don’t know how to properly balance justice, mercy, and deterrence in this case; I wish I did. The one thing I can say with some confidence is that the Lazarus case is an argument for a statute of limitations in murder cases. If we’re to apply any sense of proportionality or timeliness in a case like this, justice delayed by over two decades is justice denied, and this is true for all involved.

What we’re really facing here is much more than a single murderer who managed not to get caught at the time and go on to have an exceptionally successful career as a police officer. This shit is structural, and it’s ugly. The LAPD’s initial investigation into the Rasmussen case was a total clusterfuck. It isn’t adequate just to dunk on Lyle Mayer. He fucked up something fearsome, but that doesn’t explain what the hell his bosses were doing. Supervisors are supposed to, you know, supervise. It doesn’t have to be TV-ready hard-ass soldier-of-the-law horseshit (remember, the Detective quite dislikes the medium); all that was really needed, and in this case lacking, was someone in Mayer’s chain of command to check in on his work and either make sure that he was doing an adequate job or reassign it to someone else who knew how the fuck to investigate such a case. A chill as fuck lieutenant who never speaks to subordinates in a raised voice or gets on anyone’s ass over stupid shit could have pulled that off quite easily. None of this requires escalating outbursts of “Elliot: my office” caterwauling.

The pooch-screwing in the initial investigation involved a lot more than Mayer’s personal deficiencies. A competent chain of command will notice when an individual detective is having difficulties for whatever reason or just not doing a good job and take action to make sure that someone does the job right. If a competent chain of command had been in place during the original investigation, Mayer could have been the most hapless detective on the force and it wouldn’t have mattered, because someone would have made sure that he wasn’t in a position to personally fuck the file up for the next twenty years.

Maybe the LAPD really just had its thumbs up its ass in the eighties, but let’s temper our charity and try to think straight. All the ugly shit the department was doing in South Central at the same time suggests otherwise, sometimes very much so, and the Rasmussen cold case neatly brackets the exposure of the Rampart Division scandal, which featured a bunch of cops turning into on-the-job drug dealers, gang thugs, and habitual evidence planters and was exposed when one of the officers involved was caught stealing cocaine from an evidence locker.

*Palpitating Rob Ford voice* Well, now, I’ve never been against a free snack myself.

It’s getting to the point that it’s no longer even rare for a cop to be arrested for murder decades after the fact, what with Joseph DeAngelo now being behind bars in, how how dah, a local election year. When Russell Williams killed two women, it was considered a pattern of murder. California police have now arrested two cops within a decade for murder in cold cases, and it’s practically a certainty that these are not the only two cops to have gotten away with murder recently in the United States. I’d say it’s a fucking pattern.

At least two current NYPD officers on long-term administrative assignments are credible suspects in the Long Island Craiglist serial murders. Amateur armchair detectives have researched and identified them because the actual detectives aren’t doing a hell of a lot to solve these cases. God only knows, it may be someone else, and for what it’s worth I’m sitting in a hard wooden chair right now even though every armchair in this Starbucks is free. The Long Island case offers a double layer of protection, assuming that a cop or cops are behind it, thanks to the longstanding Anglo-American police tradition, current in Canada as well, of not investigating the murders of prostitutes. In addition to the NYPD rubber room guys, a violent ex-Suffolk County Police Chief, James Burke, has been suspected in these murders. Burke is the guy who went to federal prison for beating another guy up for stealing his duffel bag full of porn and sex toys. I thought about not looking that up, but I’m glad I did; Joey Buttafuoco isn’t the only fun one around there.

It isn’t crazy to question whether the police are actually looking for murderers among their own. The LAPD waited for a secular drop in violent crime to reopen the Rasmussen case even though Rasmussen’s own parents had identified Stephanie Lazarus as the prime suspect from the start. Joseph DeAngelo was a fucking prune who had spent 27 years working in a warehouse by the time the East Area Rapist, Etc. task force hauled his ass downtown.

They keep saying that collateral DNA from a genealogy website is how they finally found him. The civil rights and civil liberties problems with this strategy are disturbing, but what’s really pertinent in this case is how the fuck a crack task force needed to circle in using evidence from relatives that had not been kept in any chain of custody whatsoever and weren’t able to notice that DeAngelo had been fired by the Auburn Police Department for shoplifting that hammer and dog repellent in Citrus Heights.

This isn’t a case of the Santa Monica Police Department not telling the LAPD that Stephanie Lazarus had reported her gun stolen. That much sounds like pure incompetence and interagency disorganization; the SMPD had no reason to guess that Old Smokey might have been treated to a permanent cool change on the shoreline for evidentiary reasons. The EAR case was one where all agencies involved swore they were doing everything they could to chase down fresh leads and stop siloing information, and meanwhile this creep was sitting right under their fucking noses with local arrest and police disciplinary records, cursing at neighbors, mumbling to himself, cooking his roast.

It’s great to know that the sheriff’s detectives will take the roast out of the oven before they take the cook downtown. It’s really encouraging that they’re more organized than Levi Johnston in grandma and grandpa’s kitchen. Surely this proves that the Sacramento County law enforcement apparatus was there all along to communicate, not to communicate to create.

Oh. That again. What a shock. I’m not gonna lie, I’m no Mountie. But yes, these are all professionals whose motives and abilities and accountability to the public we can trust without reservation. They’re here to serve us, and I can’t imagine that there’s ever been a Twilight Zone episode about that.

Mr. Rodger’s Neighbourhood

Cool, our van rampage buddy in Toronto was online quite a bit. Love too explore human relationship’s, , in the new Virtual Community, thank’s,,,,,. Now that a couple dozen innocent people got mowed down by a maniac with a rental van and nearly a dozen of them were killed, we all get to learn about the incels and their advanced sociological theories.

The unfortunate thing is that no matter how deranged and depraved these losers are, they’re relevant. We’ve got asshats worshipping Elliot Rodger now. Some of them have rental vans. There is a sizable community of shut-ins feeding off of one another through the either. In extreme cases their oneupsmanship bleeds into meatspace, as it did in Toronto. That beautiful series of Stevens Tubes contains has the cross-sectional area for more sewage than most of us would ever want to contemplate, and verily, the shit be flowin’.

The normies can express all the shock and scandalized dismay they wish; it won’t stop the brain rot. We have hikikomori of our own now, and lucky for us, we North Americans are traditionally a homicidal culture. The Japs can off themselves; over here, we’re men. (I just made a round trip across Placer County’s premier suicide bridge to go hiking, the one where people have come with assistive ladders to get over the fence, but whatever.) Shock and outrage doesn’t change jack shit. *Terminal Robert Dziekanski voice again* Well, the shock changed ME! Forgive me, I’ve had only coffee and water this morning, no juice. This polarizing rhetoric quickly becomes depolarizing; but please, Mr. Rundel, don’t forget the Pole.

Johnny’s daddy must be fishing in my brain again. I was up in time for all of Weekend Edition Saturday this morning, from the start at 0500, but they truncated #SPORTS and had Susan Stamberg interview some pretentious asshole in LA who sings ditties about texting while driving that make our Gerry and the Heartstoppers “tunes” sound normal. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you’ll catch autism. Around here we’ve still got over eight hours until Dennis Newhall reclaims that space for the self-respecting nerds. Until then, though, #NotEvenOnce. On second thought, I just remembered that they’ve got two broadcasts of This American Life coming up, at noon and six, in this case about the Jews forgiving the Negroes for being anti-Semites or some shit. That’s the only NPR program that can go there without making me want to go to Idaho to live Kato Kaelin-style in Mark Fuhrman’s guesthouse.

I don’t know what the fuck all that just was, except that sometimes one has to rundel one’s way back out of the jungle oneself. I don’t really get lost in this shit, though. I’m able to bushwhack my way back into something passing for normal.

This isn’t the case for guys like Elliot Rodger and Alek Minassian. They really, truly get lost. Rodger was lavished with family money but otherwise largely neglected by a distant father who preferred exploiting the casting couch to being involved with his own kid. Minassian seems to have been a weird recluse who intermittently lashed out at others, on the Spectrum for real and in a bad way. (NPR still causes autism. It’s a fact.)

I cringed when I read his now-deleted Facebook post about “reporting for duty to Sgt. 4Chan,” not just because it was so embarrassing but because he had obviously been played by much more socially adept manipulators online. The guys who run those sites don’t use such clumsy language and imagery themselves. They’re evil geniuses with exceptional gifts for rhetoric; Minassian comes across as a half-articulate dupe spouting reheated talking points, a computer science idiot-savant sorely lacking the skills needed to think critically and argue for himself. I’ve watched that same shit happen on other alt-right sites that cater to sexually frustrated and socially isolated men. It’s always a clique of Svengalis deliberately riling up a bunch of hapless, timid dorks. The orchestrators use plenty of outrageous language, but they don’t use self-beclowning turns of phrase like “Sgt. 4Chan.” That kind of stupid shit they leave to the peanut gallery.

It isn’t particularly unreasonable to argue that the orchestrators of this violent hatred, the socially adept trolls who get off on manipulating people they should show some noblesse oblige into shut-ins chronically stewing in their own intensifying rage, should be charged as accessories to murder and assault when their understudies act out in real life. They’re deliberately whipping troubled people up into uncontrollable frenzies for the lulz. They’d obviously be liable if they were found abetting mentally ill people they knew in real life to commit violent crimes. Deliberately redirecting a violent paranoiac’s delusions of persecution onto one’s enemy is blatantly criminal; in some jurisdictions, at least, it can be prosecuted to the same extent as the resulting crime of violence. The legal obstacle to prosecuting trolls for manipulating strangers online to commit acts of violence is the trolls’ ability to plead ignorance. They should assume that they’re agitating manifestly unstable strangers into a dangerous, likely uncontrollable state of anger, as any reasonable person would, but they can plausibly insist that they assumed the whole operation was nothing but a catfish pond. When they say that they don’t really know who’s on the other end of the line, they’re basically right. It probably isn’t all an act, but it might be.

The broader problem here, the one implicating a whole lot more people than the troll nests, is that the guys who get sucked into this incel persecution complex are socially isolated men who have been left to their own devices by those who should be close to them. This is fundamentally a failure of community. Elliot Rodger’s dipshit father didn’t owe him fancy sports cars; what he did owe him, and apparently failed to provide, was sound guidance on interacting appropriately with others, including women. He owed the kid some damn parenting. He owed him some assistance in interacting adequately with women in social and professional settings so that maybe he wouldn’t throw hot coffee on women he’d never met to punish them for rejecting his advances for casual sex. This is something that most fathers provide their children without giving it much thought. As they say in parts of Sacramento, this is what happens when niggas have something to DO with their kids. In Rodger’s case, daddy was more interested in ostentatiously boning starlets like he was Jack Kennedy, and the brat got hurt and resentful when he couldn’t successfully copy his old man in spite of his family wealth and the toys it bought him.

Parents can’t magically stop deeply troubled children from being troubled, but if they’re paying attention they can notice the worst behavior early on and nip it in the bud. Rodger wasn’t a budding serial killer, and neither is Minassian. Guys like these are too impulsive for that. Rodger went on YouTube to yell at society before shooting up Isla Vista; Minassian posted that ridiculous “reporting for duty” bullshit about destroying all the Chads and Stacys on Facebook. These are seat-of-the-pants hotheads with one wad to blow and shit for operational security. But they run their loose mouths because they mean for their attacks to be one-time deals, spectacular blazes of kamikaze glory.

This means that they’re relatively easy to intercept at critical moments when they’re stewing in rage. The problem here is that those close to them don’t really try to engage. They’d rather go hang out with cool people than minister to shut-in dorks. Beyond some point, and we’re probably well past it, these violent outbursts are driven by social alienation that the rest of us do our best to ignore.

In our new gilded age, there’s a strong socioeconomic component to it as well. For millions, maybe even tens of millions, of Americans, the 2016 presidential election was a standoff between feminism and masculinism, between shrew mommy and punk daddy. It was inevitable that a large number of aggrieved, sexually frustrated men would vote for Donald Trump as a psychosexual reaction to a mainstream environment of hostile, preening misandry. This mainstream environment of misandry really does exist, especially for lower-class and socioeconomically marginalized native-stock men. Making fun of floundering men for their difficulty navigating deliberately trashed labor markets is not a strategy for social stability, but for certain shitheads it’s quite satisfying. This was an important psychosexual subtext of all the bitching about the “white working class.”

It shouldn’t be too hard to see how abandoning psychologically vulnerable young men to whatever hostile job markets and internet communities they manage to find will bring out latent behavioral problems in some of them, perhaps with violent, disastrous consequences. There’s no way to prevent every random nutcase with a festering grievance from going on a rampage, but the way we’ve been running our societies we’re really asking for it. We’ve got popular cultures awash in crude, easy sex serving as weak veneers for social cultures that have extremely dysfunctional ways of discussing sex, all unfolding in a neoliberal hellscape whose sole remaining social control on individual behavior, it seems, is an intensifying legal campaign to suppress prostitution. Congress can’t institute Medicare for All, but it sure can band together to enact legislation to fuck up the internet and make whores die. It’s worth wondering who’s blackmailing them and in what numbers to turn them all into structural Robert Pickton. We have to account for a lot more than scorned woman Debbie Stabenow and disingenuous Willie Brown mistress/congenital freak Kamala Harris.

Our van Channer dipshit up in Toronto is really just a particularly large and destructive piece of debris blowing around in the whirlwind that we now reap. This storm has been coming for a long time, and it isn’t possibly over yet.