Mona, a girl who shoulda gotten an A, at C

Chinua Achebe declined to write stories based on his decades in the West. Westerners already had enough storytellers, he said. He insisted on focusing not just on what he knew, but on what he knew had gone untold.

“Mona At Sea” is one of the stories Achebe had in mind. Another rich college girl is having her quarter-life crisis, and we get to read about it. Cool.

But why wouldn’t we? Who reads? Who writes? Why must the corpus of torrid, gutwrenchingly dysfunctional sexual affairs always chronicle the troubles of tweedy nerds strolling the ivied halls for intellectually curious mentees living in their sexual prime? Are humanities dorks gazing leering across the veal pen at the young things the only ones seeking and achieving such rejuvenation? Do petroleum engineers and bus drivers and public benefits claimants who mostly hang out in the neighborhood playing video games and doing some light babysitting also have affairs? Of course. What they don’t do is write. When they do write, they probably have more interesting stories to commit to paper anyway.

That’s how we get Franzen. “Ugh, he’s the person everyone wishes had died instead of David Foster Wallace.” I haven’t fictionalized the Cousin Gigolo story. “Romans-a-clef are lazy and dishonorable. They’re cheap shortcuts.” Who gives a shit? I’m too busy with nonfiction; that’s all. I don’t give a shit about the high ethics of this craft, and neither did the ancients, they of the classics. This is modernist nerd shit, the stuff of bored Victorian scolds. Vicky didn’t bang after Al died of shitwater, but the rest of them sure did. Oh, Archbishop. Fancy seeing you in the hallway this evening. Yes, I suppose I should give the Earl’s wife a rest, perhaps have a gin and tonic while she recovers.

No, I’m not planning to do the reading. It’s okay. The reviewer don’t always do the reading, either. “Mona at Sea” is of a canon many of us already know. Why else would it get dedicated segments on NPR? There is, to the best of my knowledge, no rude ditty by the title of “Bang, bang, Lourdes.” She’s forsaking her Christian name on a national news broadcast, hon. What’s going on here, hon. Sure, a girl might not have had legs for days in decades if you hire her in Lexington Market, but at least she won’t try NLP bullshit on you, hon.

Ah, an overachiever wannabe girlboss who acts like she knows what she wants in a career suddenly can’t have one because there’s no economy and we’re all idiotic enough to imagine Mocha Haole will fix it, and now she’s Online and frustrated. Gotcha. There’s a swollen population of unemployed young people with college degrees and mood disorders, and this style of literature is proliferating. Tell me something I don’t know, or don’t. We get the literature we buy. We get the literature we deserve. Something like that. Hell if I know. The parents want to know why their adult kids are so fucked up, too.

I described Mona as a rich girl, but I should specify. She isn’t hang out around the family compound doing this and that and go WASP diffident on anyone who disses her for it rich. She’s rich enough to have a reserved spot in her childhood bedroom. As Charles Carreon carried on, you don’t mess with the man from Tucson. Apparently you do mess with the woman from Tucson, if she isn’t the one suing the Ashland city government for booting her personal blog full of photoshopped pictures of Kathleen Parker sucking George W. Bush’s cock from the fiber network. We might say Mona is the real deepfake here. She’s the one who considers it her due to be living independently in New York and slaying in finance. That’s why it’s so humiliating for her to have her cheese moved on arrival in Manhattan and have to move back home to the provinces. Nothing happens in Tucson.

She isn’t exactly rich, then. She’s merely affluent. She’s mere upper-middle, not upper. A rich girl in her spot would be living in a nice apartment in a nice–maybe even up-and-coming!–neighborhood in New York on her parents’ dime and working, perhaps, in a job her parents bought for her. Or she’d be in the guest house, or hanging around the family camp up north, something of that nature. If she were old money–real money–she wouldn’t be distraught about any of that shit. She’d be like, eh, job market looks shitty and I’m bored, wanna go sailing?

Fuckups from truly rich families aren’t the ones who get hot and bothered about being failures. They have to have serious psychological difficulties or come from truly toxic families to end up like Mona. That shit’s for their subalterns, the strivers always serving them and so rarely managing to join their ranks, neurotics who are never satisfied that they’ve arrived even when they have. And yeah, some of it is just a #mindset; I’ve known people who prove it; but the hard cases skew upper middle, and they skew hard. They start showing up in families that are barely too poor to have anyone living comfortably off the portfolio yields. Just as importantly, though, they quickly vanish as the graph moves left into the fat middle, past the threshold where the only way to get a stockbroker is through one’s parents, as a legacy client. Whaddup homies.

Characters like Mona aren’t necessarily stereotypes, but they are inevitably archetypes. They have to fit into a narrow mold.

This may be TMI, and not just salaciously, but it’s worth sketching out the archetype in graphic detail. These are very specific characters. They’re specific because they’re crafted to appeal to a very specific audience with specific neuroses and terrors and NPR affiliate memberships.

They are not ones to imagine no more reading, especially after they semivoluntarily go hikikomori and have the time to read. All the fucking time in the world; grab your glasses, Bemis. We might say that our old boy Chapman “hit the mark,” in the University of Hawai Library and again in Manhattan. We whacked da limey, yeah? We just couldn’t figure out how to do the reading aloha-like. Dat’s da problematic kine, da kine ya write down, da kine da haole teach to teach da bible to da local kine.

What girls like Mona never expect to be able to do is the fun reading. They have the glasses–eh, the contacts–but they don’t have the time. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl indeed.

But she can’t be dull. She needs to be sharp. She’ll fall through the cracks if she loses her edge. She’ll be ruined. At all times she needs to be on point. I’m Tom Assbrush.

That’s something else. It do not be nearly enough like that, as they say online, problematically. For these cases as much as any, college is not libertine. It is not Rabelaisian or Bohemian or in any other way relaxed. It could be a place of sexual fluidity and discovery, chaotic and messy but stabilized by a highly functioning community. For some students it is. For students like Mona, it’s nothing of the sort. It isn’t even a catalytic environment of any sort. Cast aside all sexual and matchmaking functions, and it’s still a spiritual and intellectual wasteland. Striver kids like Mona aren’t there to make friends, as television teaches us to be our reality, or to learn to think. They’re there to learn how to make money. Mona’s attempt to break straight into high finance in a center of the global financial system is the key point here. I knew enough business majors to know this. Marketing and communications majors are just as shallow, and also dumber.

We can easily pigeonhole Mona’s psychological type. She’s a Type A who bottles her feelings up until the dam bursts and they spill where they will. In her case, they flood out in dramatically, in full public view. A review on GoodReads mentions a drinking problem. Color me shocked, Kwesi. If you’ve been around elite college kids, you’ll recognize the unacknowledged, unconfronted dysregulation. You’ll recognize the unmentionable, haphazardly treated mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse problems. This shit’s classic.

We’re dealing with people whose attitudes towards the human body and mind are truly deranged. They verge, quite crassly, on gnosticism, the body being filthy and in need of subjugation, and since we’re on the subject the mind as well. lt’s a fascist mindset, albeit one focused on mental rather than physical athletics. These are intensely intimidated young people, adult dependents whose parents pay for them to be hazed for four years in the hope that the kids will graduate into a career track where they get paid to complete additional hazing rituals until their pledgmasters are satisfied or just bored. One of the precipitating events turning Mona’s life into a crisis after graduation is her suddenly being denied her due opportunity to prove herself in a paid hazing program.

It’s Parris Island for con artists. The job she was offered and then denied because the employer offering it abruptly closed was of the sort that never has professional qualifications. It isn’t dentistry or the law. She’d need more professional training to be a CNA or a hairdresser.

The big firms could hire whizzes straight off the street to work their portfolios if they wanted. They choose to hire hungry kids fresh out of college. It’s about class perpetuation as much as business. I could figure out market analysis pretty quickly. I know quite a bit about commodities and some types of stocks. I know a lot about the operations and markets of a variety of companies.

What I’m not about to do is live like a goddamn crackhead. That’s the problem. I’d leave for lunch and keep walking. They hire kids who’d sooner commit suicide or defenestrate in an amphetamine fugue. I’d answer my cell and tell them the report’s their problem now. The hustlers they hire will never let go of their sense of duty. Duty to what? They don’t care. They’ll never care. It doesn’t occur to them that maybe the analysis of brain-fried 25-year-olds shouldn’t be a critical factor in a $10m short of the Brazilian corn market or whatever the hell they think makes sense as an economy.

These kids have to conform to a very specific, very narrow type. If they deviate they won’t get hired. Maybe if they’re honest-to-God whizzes they would, or if they know people, or if they’re charming enough to compensate, but it’s striking how many of them are slender, often to the point of looking like they have eating disorders. They’re all on drugs, of course. They’re obsequious neurotics who miscalibrate their speedballs and fly off the handle. After hours they’re absolute wrecks.

They’re trained for this shit starting in high school, if not preschool. They need perfect GPA’s. They need extracurriculars. They need compelling personal narratives. There’s no time to slack off, to be children, to be adolescents. They’ll be ruined if they try.

This is why they converge on the same eerily sick physical and psychological profile. The ladies have to be slim. The gents have the latitude to be buff, but not generally husky. The bosses would rather not have anyone, of either or any sex, looking like a roustabout who pulls crab pots all day and eats like a longshoreman. The idea is that these eager young things can find the money for dentists, dermatologists, gym memberships, dietary supplements, and whatever else they need to look great when they eat and live for shit.

The college girl who’s going places needs to be daintily pushy. She doesn’t have to smell clean as an escort, but she needs to smell good, and under no circumstances ethnic or poor. Liquor breath or a postgame sheen are fine. Smelling like months of Top Ramen, cigarettes, and hidden corners of weekly motel rooms is not. She needs just enough time to go to the bathroom, but not a minute more, unless it’s to break down in tears over shit a reasonable, assertive person wouldn’t tolerate in the first place. Her stools can look as awful as her gut feels, but she can’t have gas that won’t wait for a toilet.

She should sexualize herself for the gratification of her bosses, but not do anything coarsely womanly like mention her period or accidentally show it. It’s probably no accident that there’s been so much overwrought discourse about menstruation in middle-highbrow circles recently. Like any other bodily fluid or gas, menstrual blood is more noticeable on a white-collar clean freak than on a woman who’s been mucking livestock stalls. Oh, did I bleed through my pants? I’ll keep that in mind when I hose off the pigshit. Fewer and fewer affluent Americans under thirty have ever changed a baby’s diaper.

There’s a very real, very bad trend back towards companies asserting ownership of their employees’ bodies. Amazon basically won’t allow its employees bathroom breaks. Jim Beam asked its employees to report their periods to help it monitor time theft in the bathrooms. It’s been harder and harder to find public restrooms over the past few decades, a situation that suddenly got much worse with the Covid-19 shutdowns. Thankfully, this much is finally starting to reverse in earnest. On the other hand, public schools have been forcing this extreme bodily discipline on their students for centuries. This applies in Britain, too. *Under the Eton Privy voice* There may not be a bottom below, chap, but there’s always a bottom above!

Despite their obnoxiousness and intermittent misandry, feminist loudmouths have a point about the objecification and possession of women’s bodies. The Dallas Cowboys got into trouble for bullying and demeaning their cheerleaders–who are obscenely underpaid, by the way–with lectures about things like portion control at meals and how often they should change their tampons. These assholes hired women to be crack performative athletes, and they act like they’ve made it into their twenties unable to properly attend to their own personal hygiene. The problems here go beyond bad bosses. We shouldn’t have people who think like that in positions of power, period.

Heh. Look on the bright side, though. *Yogi Berra Patriotism Voice* Only in America can a fat Jewish truck stop hooker from Salt Lake City sing the National Anthem in a Major League ballpark.

It’s extremely neoliberal idpol to focus on menstruation as a burden in a society with pervasive, extreme fatigue and mental illness. How much of the problem is premenstrual or menstrual pain, and how much of it is delirious fatigue and Ford Stomach in inexcusably harsh academic and corporate environments?

On second thot, tho, that’s more a faildaughter vealpen thing than a girlboss thing. The Business Success Girls (and Guys!) are too busy climbing the greasy pole to give much mind to any of that. For the failspawn, it’s a transference of serious failures of neoliberal Western society onto sexualized grievances conferring extra idpol points. On the serious career track, it’s an unacceptable admission of weakness. A woman can’t admit to being tired for any other reason, either.

This shit might be excusable if it were ordered towards motherhood. Raising children is exhausting, and childrearing duties usually get dumped on women. If my ex is reading this, I’m eager to do my part to change this again, but for real, raising kids is no joke, especially for anyone trying to equal her as a mother. The thing is, if aggro college girls were trying to train for motherhood, they’d have kids already. They wouldn’t be waiting until their mid-thirties to fob one or two brats onto a Guatemalan nanny so they can go back to Goldman Sachs two months postpartum to express breast milk in a special stall.

We’re just about back to wet nurses in this country. You and me, baby, unfortunately, ain’t nothing but mammals.

This whole system is obviously broken. The writing about the corporate agenda for the white-collar workforce was on the wall by the time Clinton was elected; for the blue-collar workforce, Reagan wrote it in boldface starting on day one. The bosses kept throwing enough scraps into the pit to keep the office drones mostly in line until the 2008 crash. They spent the next decade and change fucking around and kinda sorta finding out. Then the Rona hit. They inside-traded the shit out of the pandemic and the restrictions it triggered, and they’ve pretty successfully turned public opinion against laid-off service workers who want to stay on unemployment benefits, but they’ve blown it with their cube monkeys. No one wants to come back to the office. Employers are facing mass resignations for forcing employees to return to the office full-time.

Good.

This is the arrangement Elizabeth Gonzalez James has Mona begging to join. It’s garbage, but college trained us to chase garbage. Those of us who refuse suffer for our refusal. Those who comply suffer in different ways. Most of this suffering is needless. It’s destructive and parasitic. Everybody’s just trying to justify taking a bigger slice of a possibly growing but also possibly shrinking pie. That’s all high finance is.

Occupy Wall Street comes in for criticism, rightly enough, for being the sour grapes of young people who would have demanded their own jobs on Wall Street if they’d discerned a chance in hell of being chosen from the midst of the scrum. From the perspective of figuring out who the hell is actually trying to run this joint instead of looting it, critics like Partial Objects were right. From the perspective of what the graduating classes of, say, 2007 onward were promised and not delivered, desperate strivers like Mona are entirely in the right. What kind of whipped little bitch would allow moneyed authority figures to promise and then revoke opportunities to make a killing busting ass for the machine, instead plunging the educated young into unemployment, underemployment, even precarity, even poverty? Surely that demands loud, explicit pushback.

That’s no time to let Larry Summers off the hook. His ilk should reap what they sowed. They sowed mass dispossession of the educated. Historically, the harvest that yields is revolution.

Contra the scurrilous implications of America’s legion Dignity of Work scolds, a great many Americans would do productive work if they got the chance or have the chance and do exactly that. We often don’t see counterfactual happen in the wild, because America runs not on Dunkin, but on coercion. If extended unemployment isn’t axed, who will be willing to work at Applebee’s? We’re trying to run a business here! We’re trying to run an economy! I dunno. Maybe try not groping $2.13-an-hour teenyboppers in the walk-in freezer for a while. See what happens then. Notice, too, that we’re running low on the local kids who historically staff the restaurant industry because of exactly the set of incentives that allowed the restaurant industry to become so bloated in the first place, i.e., ordering the national economy to the proliferation of one-child-policy yuppies.

This is the future conservatives want, too, especially Never Trump conservatives. Sic, mostly. The same people who get up and yell about soft whiners and their avocado toast take every opportunity to deputize volunteer programs as arms of the state, on the theory that forcing the unemployed to work or volunteer (hey, asshole, could you give me the dignity of saying that I work?) will forcibly build character in the otherwise restive poor. One thing this definitely accomplishes is turning volunteer programs into strange attractors for the worst sorts of beancounters and busybodies, repelling good people who mind their own business enough to actually get shit done.

The way this country is structured and run, it’s impossible to piece together a national labor budget. It’s impossible to figure out how many billions of hours of work a day or year it actually takes to run this fucking joint. It can be impossible to come up with a county-level labor budget. This is before we even try to figure out how much extra work we’d have to do if we made our own shit instead of importing it all from China and Bangladesh. Maybe that’d inspire us to buy less shit.

For the same reasons, it’s impossible to come up with a budget for how much of the work, or “work,” we do as a nation is bullshit. How can we fault Mona for wanting to milk this beast dry? It’s hard to get by these days without pulling that titty, and it’s a hard titty to pull. You won’t have the energy to crank it and yank it if you think about how the hell there’s a drop left in the udder. That’s for Mexicans and Chinamen.

*****

There’s some darkly amusing meta to the literary enterprise that produces works like “Mona at Sea.” We discussed the rich versus the truly rich earlier. Too much leisure can be toxic. This is something American voters and officials might want to consider before setting the same dogshit employment policy as ever. In any event, the true upper class is much more comfortable with leisure than the upper middle class, and it shows. Actual abundance is the best way to develop a mindset of abundance, not that Stephen Covey would know this as the grandson of charter members of the LDS Church and all that. Decent scions of families like his are no-names, not A-List self-help authors who grift the VA with their training seminar materials.

Upper-middles are scared to death that they’ll collapse into ruin if they ever stop running. That’s one of the things that horrifies and scandalizes them about their unemployed Millennial children and peers. We show them show them some of their alternatiive life paths, paths they might have taken if they weren’t balls-to-the-wall hustlers who punch down at every opportunity, paths they even still might take to make room for decent people who just can’t compete with them. I don’t know what our hikikomori are getting out of their anime habits. Maybe it includes an understanding of why so many salarymen raised hikikomori back in the bukkake motherland.

One of the cultural effects of upper middle class striver neurosis is discomfort with storylines that don’t involve some kind of apocalyptic quest. Their literature can’t be one of comfortable stasis in life, or merely entertaining stasis. The postmodern canon has no room for authors like Faulkner. Americans today can’t cope with fiction mostly bereft of sex, grand adventures, grand quests, and rites of passage. We can’t process characters who are drawn as object lessons, not role models. We’ve been raised not to understand any of this shit.

Conservatives like to critique sexualized literature as coarsening. It’s reasonable enough to read “I Am Charlotte Simmons” as a lengthy anti-sex bildungsroman, full as it is of shambolic characters who are sexually active and miserable. Tom Wolfe, another great of the Southern Canon, was too hypomanic to keep it in a fellow’s pants himself. There we have it. Sex–which, as the discography of Soulja Boy and Robin Thicke shows, we aren’t particularly having–gives a quick and dirty dopamine hit, not the kind of maintenance dose Faulkner administers with his collection of schizoids and paranoiacs and so forth. That Swedish beefcake in “Snow Falling On Cedars” gets to nut in his white wife in the shower after work while her Japanese ex-boyfriend goes on trial for murder, in a story surprisingly free of suicide for the maritime side of Washington State. Real smart collection of ethnics they propagated up there, huh. The author went on to win a bad sex writing award in absentia for a retelling of Oedipus Rex, conferred upon him in the name of “David Guterous.”

Is sex what’s wrong with bad literature, then? I wish that were it. It isn’t what’s wrong with Harry Potter. The Potterverse doesn’t have any, if I understand it correctly. For a generation and a class so focused on status and purged of sensuality, that sounds about right, flying around on broom adventures for clout while the Cockneys dutifully run the physical plant. The UK doesn’t account for its actual economy, either. As financial hubs go, London is arguably even worse than New York. The Potterverse is Downton Abbey for twerps with an excessive interest in ersatz paranormal phenomena. The biggest problem with these cases is that they’re given white-collar jobs.

I’d rather bust in some dude’s Swedish wife like I’m Chad Kroeger than grant that horseshit children’s series the validity its fans demand. Maybe I’ll skim “Mona At Sea” after all, for possible sex. The reviews mention something along the lines of blackmail material from social media. That’s the kind of dirt fraternity and sorority archivists used to keep on graduates. It was enough for Turkish intelligence to get Dennis Hastert to sandbag resolutions condemning the Armenian genocide. It is good and normal that an entire generation of digital natives has been lectured about the reputational threat of posting nudes or drinking pictures, and meanwhile the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House was being blackmailed for sexually initiating high school wrestlers under his authority. Put me in Coach!

More people actually working for a living would reduce this crap. The problem is, it’s hard to make a living working, and that’s exactly as capital wants it. Uber is out of drivers? Well shucks. Can’t see how that happened! Let’s see how it does with inside-sales subprime auto loans as a recruitment tool.

Meanwhile a girl in Tucson is out of college and out of work. It’s good to hear about a novel whose moral is that hustling ain’t worth shit. It won’t become worth anything again until we do less of it.

Doctoring the stats, if we may

We live in noisy, acrimonious times, bombarded by denunciations of the kids these days for being disgraces to their parents. The barbs the Baby Boom caught were more or less for being insolent, i.e., too mature. The ones Millennials catch are even worse. Go read about that recrimination and religitation and general upset somewhere else, say, in any of the hundreds of passages where it’s already been beaten to death like Nigel St. Nigel’s dinner steak in these pages alone.

Occasionally an absolutely standout statistic pops over the transom and brings this bullshit into the stark relief it so desperately needs but so rarely gets, spotlighting the unlikelihood that tens of millions of extra Westerners under forty independently but simultaneously developed the same set of dysfunctional habits, made the same bad choices, and ended up with the same disappointing accomplishments and bleak prospects. From time to time—more like day or few, for those who aren’t numbed by the cultural onslaught—a snapshot pops up to prove, and I mean prove, that what’s happening is not just entire youth cohorts of current, erstwhile, and aspiring hikikomori freely choosing to make ruins of their own lives.

Tonight’s snapshot, for me, was a graph of the annual number of medical graduates in the postwar United States. The line rises steadily through around 1980. Then it falls into an undulating plateau for the next three decades, before rising more steadily again over the past decade, to the present day.

Did the national population do that? Of course not. It didn’t drop some years or decades and rise in others. It kept growing. Say, the turn of the eighties didn’t feature any other pivots from stewardship into schemes to sneak into other people’s houses and gorge on their seed corn at their kitchen tables, did it? Surely that wasn’t a period of constant strikes and lockouts in an effort to hold the line on the worst of the yuppies.

Metric after metric stagnated or reversed in the seventies and early eighties. It’s chart after chart after chart. It turns out they decided to stop training yuppies into doctors, too. It’s odd. It’s surprising. Aren’t the doctors all yuppies?

Yeah. That’s gotta be why. It’s artificial scarcity. When the unions attempt to enforce a third artificially scarce day of each air traffic controller’s work, they’re lazy freeloaders. When the medical schools and professional associations allow the training of new physicians and surgeons to detach from population growth in an aging country on course to start really aging a generation into the future, that’s, uh, markets something. It couldn’t be professional collusion. It’s not like Adam Smith snickered about how it’s impossible to put any two of any type in the same cafe at the same time and not immediately get them to hatch a conspiracy to fix prices.

The civic implications of Adam Smith complaining not just about every possible sort of tradesman being a born price-fixer but also about landlords are important, eternal vigilance as the price of freedom and all that shit. If that priggish gasbag was Mao by way of the Marquis of Queensberry, maybe the business of business really is monkey business and the landlords really are parasites. Smith happily granted that tradesmen are mere cheats. This might be worth keeping in mind when our elected officials and think tank sinecurists open their pieholes to spend time as the economics faculty.

As fellow tradesmen (and women!), certain members of the b College of Esteemed Barber-Surgeons might wish to do likewise for their own financial gain. They might wish to establish themselves as a strictly select fraternity.

Midwives and midwifery enthusiasts have things to say on this topic.

We risk veering into woo. Is natural childbirth any better than natural root canal or natural orthopedics? I don’t have any she-crunchies in my circles to impress at the moment; none of the bitches in that fight are mine. So let’s flip the question. If obstetrics is such a good idea, why have we spent forty years trying to have less of it? Patch my damn cunt right now, Adams! Be of cervix!

This is an entirely serious question. If a stagnating pool of physicians serving a growing population moves out of general or internal medicine and into OB/GYN for the pay (say, due to student debt), there will be a different mix of ill effects on national health, in this case through the neglect of routine checkups and preventative care, and there probably still won’t be enough obstetricians.

Did the raw ability of American medical schools to train new doctors falter for decades in the midst of breathtaking medical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs? I don’t particularly think so. That isn’t a deal where they just dump all the lab instructors into fulltime R&D. These are complementary parts of the system. They have synergies.

That’s a ridiculous answer for why medical school graduations plateaued alongside surges in the yuppie population. It’s more sensible to explain it by pointing out that recruiters for high-frequency trading shops spent years telling undergraduate math whizzes they were too smart for medical school. Don’t waste your career listening to geezers cough; come help us exploit our microsecond advantage over the other bastards by writing algorithms for the direct line we have from the NASDAQ floor to our new server farm in Hoboken.

These are gentlemen’s pastimes. It’s the kind of parasitic legerdemain that would tempt any ruined aristocrat who’s otherwise prone to club his fellow to death because he was budgeting tonight’s winnings for the latest round of last-ditch payments on his ample household debt. Granted, there are workarounds. For example, parliamentary immunity as a refuge from debtor’s prison is an exercise of classic Burkean conservatism.

It helps to know people to get into medical school these days, too. For veterinary school it’s just about a necessity. Mom and Dad are vets, they both know a bunch of other vets, and whaddaya know, precious Madison seizes the opportunity to shadow one of their colleagues and then gush about it on her improbably successful application for veterinary school. Honorably and lucratively, the family tradition endures.

In the Old World, this professional arrangement would generally be called a hereditary guild. Here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave new one, it’s called—well, shucks, it’s called nothing. We’re one of the most obnoxiously, inexhaustably talkative peoples on God’s green earth, and we somehow don’t have the language to describe the hardening tendency of children, in this case the children of the upper middle class, to take up their parents’ lines of work, to the exclusion of young people from other, less fortunate families.

Counterintuitively, it’s because Americans believe so deeply in the power of language. This is why we lack the language to talk about shit the English, the crew of our mothership and the namesake of our common tongue, traditionally classify with a single syllable. Over here, we’re pretending it isn’t odd that the children of veterinarians have such a preternatural inability to regress to the professional mean of not being veterinarians. They get prodded and hazed through the same test hell as any of their class peers, but kum-on, they aren’t all that competitive. They are not all so smart and capable.

Problem is, our Brahmins today get really touchy about what to do with the family dimwits. Maybe it’s their fault if they won’t study hard enough, but that’s beside the point. The dim their families will have with them always. The intense pressure to succeed doesn’t help, either. Some of their cognitive deficiencies—like, where if you talked to them just to talk to them without thinking about their excellence as striver brats you might walk away thinking they aren’t too fucking bright—arise from the pressure to turn them into Scantron idiot-savants. I was transiently dumber for putting up with that shit. You would be, too.

As Dan Quayle supposedly said, not to have a mind is being very wasteful; how true that is. Palo Alto’s teen suicide victims present, or absent, with scholastic aptitude such that they’d have to go to Atlanta to pass their tests. Youth suicide clusters in affluent communities may well in fact skew test scores and college acceptance letters upwards; I don’t care whether they’re crass enough to think of this, because I am, and I consider it a legitimate, relevant consideration.

All they’d do in Atlanta is grab a damn eraser. Encouragingly, it’s the same approach the proctors took on the Operation Varsity Blues show. Hey, champ, I know a guy in Houston. We’re seriously talking about saving people’s lives here.

*****

I’m shitposting, but I am not kidding. Colleges drive teenagers to suicide, and many more to self-harm, by playing around with the admissions dials to goose their cut of the vig. Then they wonder, oh no, our students have mental health problems. How did that happen? This stance conveniently opens up a slot in the trough for every grifting oddball with a PsyD to devise “solutions” that don’t force their employers to solve a goddamn thing. Our colleges retain an awful lot of in-house solicitors and regulatory specialists per capita for institutions that deal with customers they’re destabilizing to the verge of suicide by commending them to the mental health care of psychologists they employ.

Sociopathic multinational corporations that pull this company town shit on their employees in the interest of “wellness” at least pay them a little something for their trouble. The college model is to charge fees for healthcare upfront, along with tuition, and then delay or deny requests to apply the same fees, by this point on deposit at interest and declarable as liquidity on applications for corporate lines of credit, towards bills for the mental healthcare of outside providers who do not have prima facie conflicts of interest.

This shit is just too fucking obvious to give the benefit of the doubt. Rob Ford needed, like, a week of heat from the press to be like, yeah, I guess I can only prove that I smoked crack, but I’m pretty sure I was also drunk to the point of incapacitation, because that seems like the reason why I’d smoke crack. Dude’s Rock.

I am not here to humor anyone who runs a fucking chartered and accredited bachelor’s or graduate program and insists that isn’t a conflict of interest because it’s complicated and I don’t understand. No, asshole, I’m not a moron. I fucking understand. The arrangement for student mental health services at these schools is tangled but easy enough to describe and explain.

The schools are the immediate payors, the patients are their students, and the clinicians are their employees. The patients, usually via their much more solvent parents, have parallel customer relationships with the payor, as tuition-paying students and de facto policyholders enrolled in a group health coverage plan providing routine outpatient care in campus clinics closed to the general public.

Here’s where it gets sick. The clinicians have the specific, exclusive responsibility of treating mental health outpatients who almost always present with specific complaints against the clinicians’ employer, which is also the patients’ insurance carrier and provider network for psychological care whenever classes are in session and they happen to be on campus.

These are distraught teenagers and early twenty-somethings telling psychologists, all but explictly: Your employer is why I’m sick. Your employer is why I’m cutting myself and thinking of suicide. You work for my college. Our college is emotionally ruining me.

This is a mental healthcare system where the patient has an adversarial relationship with the counselor’s employer, EVERY SINGLE TIME. On rare occasions a patient’s difficulties may not have a provable relationship to the school, one of those situations that’s totally unlikely but plausible enough for Coast to Coast. Okay, I’m not saying I was on meth, but I’m not saying the alien didn’t stick a probe up my butt to download my soul, but I’m definitely saying the way I treat my patients is exactly the way I would if they weren’t telling me I’m working for the same organization that makes them want to kill themselves.

*****

At the institutional level, nobody at these schools can do a thing without debasing themselves to some combination of sophistry and carnival barking. That’s an American story if ever there was one. The combination of self-seriousness and power may be the most ruinous thing about this system. It seems not too conducive to peace of mind to bully teenagers already passing through a drawn-out, incoherently justified liminal period that their future wellbeing in everything from earning capacity to professional advancement to marriage and childrearing depends on their successfully walking a gauntlet of power-mad boors, scolds, busybodies, snitches, and lunatics.

Yes, the individual authority figure is allowed to be a mix-and-match; yes, it’s payable upfront; yes, usurers are standing by with installment plans. Call now.

I swear to God, it’s enough of a rite of passage to get the kids into the payroll workforce. The rest of this shit is just fucking insane.

I once had dinner in the same room as John Yoo for a symposium about Lincoln and Taney and why that did or did not make it okay for the intelligence services to subject detainees they’d gotten for bounties to mock executions. You know, the usual. We were treated to the usual high platitudes about robust debate and intellectual diversity and my balls, which were feeling better than they would have in Homan Square. The idea was that we’d be incurious not to give a fair hearing to a scholar of such stature just because we disagreed with his positions.

Whipped little bitch that I still so often am, I fell for this shit. A fair hearing of that asshole’s heinous and yet boring arguments would be to scream at him to shut up and promise to call 911 the next time he comes into sight. That reaction would rise vaguely towards the level of street justice. A pampered asshat like John Yoo would be horrified. People like him flip their shit at the thought of being heckled. They consider it censorship to be denied salaried academic posts and honoraria just because everything they have to say outrages their paying audiences.

This is the usual grievance about cancel culture: some bigshot pissed the wrong people off in exactly the way he knew not to do when he was on one platform, and how he must suffer the humiliation of having to take his large, established audience to a different, comparably prominent platform whenever he feels like it. The same assholes who are so fed up with liberal snowflakes throw a fit whenever one of them is belatedly denied ongoing payment to say absolutely any rotten thing that comes to mind on Fox News. They get outraged at the possibility of a marginal loss in viewership just because one of them barked a vile racist diatribe through a mouth too wine-soaked to form normal consonants.

To make it even more pathetic, they’re all bitter about their relegation to Fox News or some other platform of similar cultural dominance because a fair society would reward their talents with an appointment to Harvard. Yeah, Harvard doesn’t want me, either, doofus. Harvard does not encompass all possible atrocities just because it’s atrocious.

On the other hand, Boalt Hall made space for Philadelphia Eichmann.

This is the point where I start feeling like I’m fucking hallucinating. I’m just some schmuck who does more or less his fair share of the country’s farm work and publishes huge amounts of weird samizdat, some of which a few strangers enjoy reading. I’m over here chronicling the surreal from time to time, and I feel like a huge disappointment for not doing something more worthwhile. Meanwhile, the surreal who give me themselves as posting fodder do circle jerks for a living. They give each other accolades for publishing “legal scholarship” that would get them fired from the average newsroom for incompetence and serious ethical lapses. They get strivers to prove their own genius for a chance to pay for lectures about how it’s constitutional to commit the kinds of war crimes that got all those guys hanged in Nuremberg. It takes excellent grades and stratospheric LSAT scores to get into John Yoo’s lectures, plus a small fortune in tuition and fees.

Academic grades are barely credible without any of these freaks. They have the same problems with fraud, corruption, and chain of custody as subprime mortgages exhibited in the crash of 2008. The very premise of this system is that it can use printouts of some spreadsheet calculations derived from summary reviews of academic performance to classify alumni as anything from heroically hardworking geniuses to lazy retards, often based on coursework whose only copies existed for all of a day or two. To continue the unnerving hallucinatory feeling, the reason grades and grade point averages are taken so seriously is that the assholes relying on them are too lazy to review applicants’ portfolios. The standardized tests serve the same purpose.

The only thing we know about sexual quid pro quo in academia is that it’s underreported. I guarantee it. Sucking or fucking the right person to change some letters and numbers for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of future earnings is exactly what happens when the stakes are as high as they are now.

Most of this perversion and dissolution is only circumstantially provable. There’s conclusive, thoroughly documented evidence of the parallel ideological extortion that pervades academia and institutions associated with it. Freedom means the latitude to treat Alan Dershowitz like any other jerk with vile politics. It tells us what we need to know about the extent of intellectual freedom that it’s beyond the pale for so many professors and reporters to repay the foultempered immorality of such characters with anything but graciousness and patience. It isn’t mercy or magnanimity to put reactionary shithead lawyers on TV. It’s enabling. It’s collusion.

The assholes could always just grab soapboxes and serve as models of pluck and independence for the young people they rue have turned into whiny, easily offended conformists. They hate the idea. It would be an ego hit. I don’t usually look at my site stats these days. None of these emotionally volatile freaks would be able to resist. None of them can bear to be denied Harvard’s imprimatur, or to be quiet on any platform within their reach about the injury they sustain by being so denied.

*****

The simple explanation for their ill cheer is that they’re courtiers. They’re as bitter and resentful as any other chorus of petty little bitches about being barred from the courts of true power, those stuck kissing noble ass in Avignon for a living always pining for Versailles, where they’ll finally show the world that they’ve arrived.

Bruh, they feed you, right? And of course they do. Courtiers and whatever else they are as well—priests, scholars, jesters, counselors—are fed by the sweat of other brows. It’s one of the draws of the gig. They just have to concoct or perpetuate whatever story it takes to convince the peasants that they shouldn’t have to pitch in on the chores.

What makes these already miserable “conservative” crybabies go from the tragically insatiable to the farcical is their confusion of prestige with power. Sure, maybe critical race theory or whatever on earth is the matter with Larry and the Lady Mathematicians is obnoxious. That doesn’t mean it’s relevant. The people who actually run the Ivies and the United States are happy enough to toss some more feed into the vealpen on demand while those with the real wealth, power, and privilege either do their own whining about how marginalized they are or simply ignore the spectacle.

Our dean of humanities Dr. Summers plays both roles, getting rich and powerful and also splashing around in the mudpit of academic feuds. The litmus test of power, however, is simple. Whoever is getting rich is who matters. That’s the finbros and Tommy Tuberville before it’s anyone maxing out at $30k complaining about representation or free shit from the sponsors to fill out the team.

*****

The more or less reasonable assumption about the applicant pools and student bodies of prestigious universities—the Ivies, the Hidden Ivies, the flagship state schools—is they’re drawn from elite families, ones corresponding at least to the aristocracy or the medieval court clergy. This is intuitive, except it isn’t entirely the case. Harvard wouldn’t make its applicants grovel like peasants if it didn’t regard them as peasants. It esteems a few of them as true nobles; the remainder it regards as mere peasants with disposable assets.

Making these losers do a song and dance is entertainment for profit. It confirms the Good Schools as good schools, ones worth slashing throats and paying fortunes to attend. It reinforces the national and transnational class structures.

Once the higher strata of the peasantry matriculate, their mental health becomes important, because if it decides to go on sabbatical again the kids might do something to make their schools look bad, like drop out. The embarrassment of a high dropout rate comes with a significant loss of tuition and fee revenue, which also makes a school look bad.

There’s no fence bounding the prison. It’s still prison psychiatry.

To quote Zachary Karabell’s awfully unfortunate phrasing, what’s college for? It’s for itself. That’s the thing. It isn’t to prepare students for the professional world or cultivate in them the life of the mind or any of that shit. It’s an expensive crowdsourced matchmaking service, after a fashion, although Grove City is the only college to be honest about this pupose, and hence somewhat coherent. At other colleges the matchmaking role is mostly incidental; the same striving assholes might just as easily meet each other in prep school or grad school or even some yuppie bar in the big city, being yuppies.

The faculties do not govern themselves. Professors can be profoundly disturbed, but one thing they are not inclined to do is elevate the most parasitic flimflammers from among themselves to serve as their chiefs. The quality of administrator drops noticeably from department chair to college president. The central administrators are so much more expensive and so much worse. The principle is that it costs more to get more; quality of personnel demands quantity of funds.

Everything about this is happy horseshit. It’d be cheaper to elevate a sitting professor for a year or two instead of mounting national searches for the best of all candidates, and the candidates would be better. But that’s not the point. The point is to semi-randomly reward suckups for their sycophancy and corruption. Our college presidents couldn’t possibly be pulled from a grab bag of obnoxious, arrogant mediocrities for awards of salaries multiples of what any of the professors they govern earn and also free mansions. Surely they’re intellectuals of great distinction.

The true extent of academic self-government is the department. In some universities it may be an internal academic division, a “college” or “school” or whatever. /Most philosophical Jeffrey and the Jailbait Enjoyers salon voice/ Karabell, I don’t care what it’s for. What’s “college?” Yeah, okay, but wood does dat godda do wit pussy?

It has much to do, of course, just not in coherent or scrutable ways. HQ and the assholes who call their shots—the boards of trustees, the boosters, individual alumni who live to throw their money and weight around—tend not to interfere directly in departmental operations for a number of reasons, all of them better than nothing but none of them reputable. They want their precious schools to look good, and a reputation for sleazy bigshots intruding into departmental affairs is bad. They don’t want tenured faculty getting hostile, and if the vulgarians push the envelope the eggheads most assuredly will. These moneyball shysters are in it to make bank and move bank, not to get berated back off the academic quad by professors who are both avowedly and by consensus more educated, making a scene only to defend the ethical and intellectual high ground.

Besides, the departments have nothing of value to seize in the first place. They’re loss leaders for the big grift. It’s the vealpen again. No need to close the gate; just toss some feed in over the rail. They’ll gladly lie down and chew.

This is why the big cheeses keep the humanities departments around. This is why they don’t pare down the 100-level chemistry courses to excuse the morons who enroll for the distribution requirements and to have the TA’s turn on their Bunsen burners and do their math. They need to pretend that everybody who graduates is educated. Chad Kroeger is educated enough to admit he’s uneducated. That’s too educated.

Okay, he’s singing about high school. Is it the same notorious retard factory in Alberta that it is down here? It’s no pride of th’ American side, to judge from the bitter complaints of its being a volume-discounted version of college with marginally worse academic and occupational results. Nobody who comments on this shit has the intellectual curiosity to go after the deeper, real problems when it’s so easy to whine about low returns on investment. The rest of us get the discourse they deserve.

*****

If college’s intellectual mission is the formation of intellectually curious critical thinkers, a critical thinker would think college graduates would stand out for that, not for being insecure social climbers who get upset whenever somebody disses one of their cults at lunch. If the goal is to produce well-rounded physicians–hold up, because if that’s what we’re doing, we need to start by redesigning medical school.

It must feel too much like vo-tech to think about reclassifying medical training as a strictly professional course of study, such as the law still is in the crustier corners of Vermont. Medicine needs to be a profession of the Renaissance Man (and Woman!), not a grubby trade in which the barber-neurosurgeon is expected to know more about where and how to cut the brain than he does about the classics, butt enough about the Castro, or than she does about walking into her ex-boyfriend’s kitchen and yelling at him while he calls 911 from upstairs because she just woke him up from a nap. Understand, we cannot have the general public accusing The Doctors of exactly the obsessive narrow intelligence that’s drilled into them over the course of their medical training. This would decrease the public’s confidence in, as doctors do not call it but those who seek to marry doctors do, the medical field.

The popular understanding of this shit is all wrong. Everything I publish in these pages is the liberal arts. This right here is the real deal. You can say, well now, it’s nothing but gonzo shitposting, and fine. What I’m saying is still this: Whenever I barf forth another 2,500-12,500 words about Kwesi Millington or whatever the hell to polerize a friend, I’m objectively engaging in the liberal arts. There is no strict professional or technical purpose to this stuff.

There are strict professional and technical purposes to medical education. That’s why we’re all made to pretend that our doctors have to be Jonas Salk and also Marcus Aurelius. Look, I can hardly give my dentist a clear field of view when he starts talking to me about how much he loved “those trees with the pretty bark” (eucalyptus, I determined) on the first trip of his life to California because there was a clinical conference in, like, Altadena. I don’t need him to learn additional topics of conversation; that’s for his personal life, not my already full mouth.

Mind you, I’m just being too smart for school again. I’m not entirely joking, either. One of the purposes of the broad education of medical doctors, and Dr. Puliafito has indeed given a broad or two an education, is to encourage the public to think, patiently, as it were, of polymath brilliance as a proxy for the sharp clinical knowledge and acumen the same doctors may or may not possess.

What the fuck does that have to do with anything? I’m not over here telling Dennis Geyer where to cut, or what to cut, other than out the antics on the bridge, because young man I do not like the sound of that. Do we need or want our surgeons writing crap like that? No. We might wish for them to write post-op notes based on actual reviews of systems, but we can’t have a thing that nice, either. The professional standards are surprisingly mythical. Please insert my usual review of systems.

Medicine is a profession in which Dan Crenshaw’s eyes are equally reactive and dilated. The only way to face consequences for writing notes of that quality is to do so in a practice that maintains its own internal standards. The Mayo Clinic will probably shitcan anyone it catches doing that. The average hospital group? Lol wut, sure. Basically, you can do whatever until you get fired or sued, and if you get into either sort of trouble, you can find somewhere else to work. Drylabbing is okay as long as nobody gets maimed or killed, and the med-surg nurses are there to handle the med part.

My usual, please.

There might be less in the way of funds to slush if the normies start wondering what the fuck doctors know. Out in the streets a lot of Americans are bitter about medical mistakes and the incompetents who make them, but the main point is to overwhelm them by bamboozling nine-to-fives who vote. Dr. Oz is a doctor, you see.

Yeah, no shit. I’ll go to a different cardiac surgeon if I need one because he only practices part-time and the rest of them are somebody else. Does that mean he knows anything about probiotics or superfoods that can’t be learned from a list of ingredients? Does he know anything about exercise that any rando who gets out for a walk doesn’t also know? Of course not. He’s some freak on TV who eats an ounce of raw walnuts for lunch. He’ll be telling me what to eat just as soon as I’ll listen to some performatively folksy dipshit from the Farm Bureau tell me the parish hall coffee in his thermos is good enough for a breakfast at daybreak under the old oak out front of the barn when you’ve got twelve hours of silage to cut. Okay, then, you drink it, you twerp.

That’s the other thing: A whole lot of Heartland Leaders are teachers, not farmers. (I’m leaving the lawyers aside because they’re too numerous to be interesting.) Ben’s Ass—now goodness, can somebody teach me how to spell?—was a college president. Both of his parents were high school teachers. Lyndon Johnson and Chuck Grassley went to normal school. Denny taught in one.

Take that one to the mat. We all wrestle with these things, if we’re so unfortunate. The mere instructor goes to Minnesota for being homosexual; the true rancher goes there to BE homosexual.

The folksy wonders strutting around Washington and its many outposts around the world with their obnoxious method acting projects are eggheads. They’re thousands of times more likely than the average American to have Ivy League pedigrees. So much school, so little refinement. What the hell was the point of sending them? Brett Kavanaugh did not need to enroll to learn about beer.

Are we still to imagine college refines its alumni? Are we still to imagine it has a culturing effect? They matriculate as crass boors, and they graduate as crass boors. As Tom Lehrer might say, it’s a sewer like the rest of life, just costlier.

Rich people love having the merely affluent extrapolate and project their own fussy aesthetics and habits to the very top. They want the upper middle class to imagine that the overclass is not crawling with what Michael O. Church called uncultured barbarians. They want the PMC to continue to take Donald Trump for a poor man’s idea of a rich man, not simply a rich asshole. Between their sheer wealth and their forsaking of the noblesse oblige their ancestors learned the slightly hard way in the Depression, a rich person with coarse tastes today faces few obstacles to acting like Donald Trump. The press earnestly celebrates the vile antics of the rich. We love our celebrities, don’t we, folks. The authorities do little to temper their worst impulses. The matriarchs and patriarchs who were around for the lessons of the Depression in real time are too frail, feebleminded, or dead to meaningfully object. Who was that negro? Why, he was Kofi Annan, Mrs. Astor. Well, now, surely his parents were not foolish enough to name him Coffee.

The hardcore rich do whatever the fuck they please whenever the fuck they please. Sometimes they actually, sincerely try to be reputable and modest. We hear very little from or about these cases. The infamous hard workers among the rich work, or hold acting roles showcasing their own work ethics, almost exclusively to gather and hoard more wealth and power.

During the Great Compression they had to restrain themselves or be restrained. They had to negotiate with unions and submit to regulators. They love their current restoration to the powers of gods on earth. They have always consideed these powers their birthright. It smarted to have their worst wants denied for several decades on account of government intrusion into their affairs and the omnipresent threat of swift mob violence for overreach. They’re gratified to again be given tacit blessings to set quotas in ways forcing their employees to wear adult diapers. They approve of the prerogative Donald Trump used on television to ritually humiliate “apprentices” by breathing the words of ruin upon them like Zeus. They consider this a good model for the economy and for their own lives.

Yes, this includes #resist #WithHer #NeverTrump scolds. As always, it’s about substance, not style.

*****

As we mentioned above, medicine is a grubby, tiring way to try to make a fortune, and one requiring high intelligence. Some families are practically medical castes of their own. There are, for example, many Drs. Gupta. Judy Dench once got the sads on As Time Goes By and had to see a Mr. Percival, a Norman French cunt. To judge from the compensation packages, American doctors push their children High French and Original Brahmin children into medicine for the money. Prestige is the other obvious factor.

To be quite blunt, medical doctors and their class peers do not have a 70% or 90% lock or however much of it is they hog on young adult children capable of completing medical training and serving capably as doctors. Come on. Too many of their kids are too dull or soft or, inflammatory though it is to admit this away from the academic vealpen, traumatized to get through medical school and a residency the way these programs are run.

In the USA today (lol), these rounds of hazing are all too clearly a series of forced marches into a crooked, cruel system that doesn’t work. On an alarming number of floors, it’s acceptable for doctoring to fall somewhere between an acting gig and cosplay. The Village People were not in fact a cop and a logger and whatever. A medical license is worth its printstock as evidence of fitness for a physician who drops acid to make rounds “fun” or a surgeon who scrubs in too drunk to maintain normal gross motor function when he gropes his scrubs nurse with a breast pocket full of sharps.

It’s hard to imagine the quality of available medical staff not plummeting as word gets out about incidents of that nature. It’s more than a few assholes; it’s all the enablers among their colleagues turning a blind eye to flagrant unfitness for duty that could get patients killed, plus the openly homicidal executives and shareholders, plus the ethical impunity for consorting with cheerleader bimbos hawking the latest patent medicines on the junket circuit.

The prevailing ethics and standards of care in American medicine today are, if anything, higher than they should be given how notoriously riddled it is with profiteers, quacks, drylabbers, and other trash who have no business anywhere near it. It’s a powerful strange attractor for bad actors that is incidentally also a powerful strange attractor for good actors.

Where’s the tipping point? I think we’re right around it, but I couldn’t say for sure which side. Ask Malcolm Gladwell. Are Nickelback the dumbest Canadians? They sing popular songs about life, death, relationships found and lost and maybe found again, the sociology of small towns, luck good and bad, high school, sex in the shower, and the criminal justice system. Gladwell is famous for writing about how if you play a lot of hockey, there’s a good chance you’ll get good at hockey.

By God my stories about how if you spend 1,000 hours learning about horses at a government sleepaway school you’ll have no idea how to calm down a Pollack are better than that.

*****

The answers are so straightforward and yet so daunting. Train more doctors instead of whatever the hell we’re doing to miseducate our smart people instead. Nationalize the big pharmacorps, which profiteer on government research all the time as it is. Investigate the shit out of anyone trying to trade dinners and swag and a little something-something under my blouse for prescription sales, on both sides of the agreement; that setup is a way for our already quite well-compensated physicians and surgeons to charge their hookers to company expense accounts. Break up the for-profit hospital groups. Yank their nonprofit status on grounds of fraud. Establish more and better government clinics.

Medicare for All or Medicaid for All or Tricare for All would be a good adjunct.

Or an army of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed idealists could try to join it and reform it from the inside. It’s admirable, until it turns into a sellout fiasco like Teach for America or the law for most anybody. It’s the usual shit about systems and their inertia and peer pressure from colleagues and the kids’ classmates and all the rest of it. It’s a fucking mess, rather like the mainstream culture of this decadent, decrepit land.

Besides, you won’t need to call Toni Morrison to babysit your toddler while you become a neurosurgeon. There aren’t any openings. Help is not wanted.

God help us if they ever force Carol off the media

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

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

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

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

Excuse me: theatre kids.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The aliens consented.

They consented to what?

The aliens all consented.

Are you saying you consented to their sexual advances?

They consented.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title IX Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago has ax bars.

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

You think you were raped.

****

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

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

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

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

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

It ain’t SVU.

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

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

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

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

****

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

Title IX.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

Fucken A.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kinda cucked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think. I hold too many thots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These conditions make her a better servant, yes?

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decency

Mike Mersky assaulted me for using profanity in a school hallway. He bumrushed me up against a wall in front of dozens of other students for two or three syllables of unmemorably light Heavy Seven. You pricked your finger and then fingered your prick? Use some lotion next time! 

If I’d had a set of fucking balls I would have gone to the police and probably had him fired within the week. It’s fine to squirm around courtside and bark moves at the lady ballers, but the safe way to act like Bobby Knight is to be Robert Montgomery Knight, and Mersky wasn’t it. He wasn’t even a Benjamin Montgomery Robinson; that was no union gig he had with us. My problem was that I was being low-key community blackmailed over mental and behavioral health moments that were more innocuous than the Mike Move but seedier.

I’ll still swear, to this day, that Mike Mersky assaulted me in his capacity as a school principal, to wit, the immediate successor of Headmaster Dick Johnson. That was why we needed to watch our language around the Day School. It would have been scandalous of us to address one another as the man in charge of all thirteen grades at our school. 

Mersky wasn’t any coarser than Lieutenant Tittytorque, but he was worse. Lieutenant Tittytorque forcefeeding me Jim Beam, slamming four times as much Jimmy himself, and then grabbing my nipples to tune in WWVA was 100% voluntary association, just as Tocqueville wanted it. None of that was ever a good idea, but that beefy freak did not hold authority in loco parentis. When the principal is acting like that, or God help us all the school cop, it’s past time to nip that shit in the bud. 

It hit me this evening, as I walked out on Joe Biden’s unseemly victory speech celebrating the recording of the Electoral College’s statehouse voting conventions to pick up an order of dim sum: Mike Mersky is Joe Biden is Mike Mersky. They’re the same fucking bastard. They’re the same coarse, insufferably greasy middlebrow Mid-Atlantic piece of shit. They talk the same, they strut the same, they bark abuse the same. 

I have no reason to believe that Mersky is a sex pest or a pervert–worth mentioning, obviously, because Funny Uncle Joe is overtly both–but otherwise they’re the same dangerous, disgusting thing. Mersky loved to say, “I’m gonna be perfectly honest with you.” Yeah, that’s what I expect you to be, you cunt. You run this fucking school. Malarkey, we might call it. Man alive, Corn Pop, I’m gonna brain ya with this chain, Jack. 

First State Skull Pudding has the permanent, total privilege to utter threats and fighting words at close range in front of witnesses and news cameras, grope, assault, and forcibly rape where Mike Mersky does not because Joe is two or three quanta farther up and out. When teachers do that it’s a contigent privilege, innit, Denny. Put me in Coach! I mean, put Coach in me! I mean, gimme some cash, Coach! You’re ready to pay! In ways it’s surprising that Denny Dundiddly went down for what Denny Dundiddily dun, but he was after an ex-Speaker with a personal fortune in the mere mid-seven figures. What stands out about so many other sexually compromised guys above him–Clinton, Trump–can be accused on the record of forcible rape and suffer no consequences. Nothing ever happens to them. The Big Dog got deposed, I think. Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, pudding his pop where it didn’t belong, there to pound more than just cake, got off Scot free for decades. Men who are known to have traveled abroad on a custom private jet with a convicted serial molester and his barely teenage sex slaves are allowed to do whatever the hell they fancy, and in their public lives, no less. Joe gets to put his hands wherever he damn well pleases. 

Nothing happens to these creeps. Nothing ever happens. 

Here’s the mindbending part. 

My parents both found Mike Mersky sleazy, shifty, and abrasive. I have never told them about what he did to me, because I always assumed they’d blame me and don’t want any unpleasantness over that bullshit. They didn’t need to hear a thing about his being physically aggressive or menacing for them to dislike him for chronically being a greasy prick. 

What do they tihnk of Joe Biden, then? He’s restoring decency to American politics. He’s restoring the rule of law. He’s a unifier, not a divider. Whatever he did for the banks, it wasn’t as bad as Trump. Whatever he did to make life hell on the vulnerable poor in neighborhoods he flooded with jackbooted cops enforcing newly draconian laws, it wasn’t as bad as Trump. Whatever horrible things he’s trying to od to this day, he is in no way as bad as Trump. 

It’s so dispiriting to hear people who always distrusted a shady sleazeball rally around Joe Biden, of all ghouls, because he’s a man of decency. How could he be a rapist, a molester, a groper, a white supremacist bigot, a fascist, an armchair jailhouse slaver, a superintendent of mass debt peonage, or even a dementing weirdo? For fuck’s sake it’s because he’s proven to be all of these awful things. Yes, he’s that bad.

I’ve heard “decency” more this fall than I heard it over the five or ten years prior. In tandem with the full-blast firehose of idpol the centrist elements of the chattering classes have been blasting on us since the election, they keep repeating that Joe’s decent, a man of decency. Audio and video of him from THIS CALENDAR YEAR show him lashing out with terrible indecency: Go vote for someone else then; you’re full of shit, a horse’s ass; meet me outside; you ain’t black. If the average A-List figure were carrying on like that, it would be all over the news all the time. Look at how they react to Trump. Instead they just flat-out make shit up about Biden’s character and repeat it ad nauseam.  

The idpol this fall is like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. I expect some gross idpol from the MSM, and certainly from the hopeless veal pen inmates who kiss up to PC Principal from the inept margins of academia, but the Celebration of Diversity they’re throwing in observance of the current interregnum is a world of its own. NPR has had days with multiple items about who of what communal identity has been nominated for what. Meanwhile, the Biden transition team’s nomination process has crashed on launch, disintegrating into a rubble field of corruption and dysfunction. 

What’s happening here, as has been happening across so much of mainstream American life, is that words mean everything and actions mean jack fucking shit. We saw this in a bad way in the pathetic dispute, still under litigation in some quarters, over Trump’s Pussy Comment. The real problem with this publicly accused rapist and unannounced girls’ dressing room visitor is the time he bragged about his louche sex life to a giggling Billy Bush. One of the least credible forms of self-incriminating testimony imaginable is a salacious locker room story for a trust fund dipshit with a celebrity gossip show. There’s no positive, intrinsic reason to believe that any of it is true. Trump habitually lies about all sorts of things to make himself sound successful and brash. 

Even if it’s all true, the troubling thing about the public reaction to Storytime with Billy Bush (again, how are these characters real people?) fixated on the pussy part. Very little agonizing effort was expended denouncing him for bragging that he “moved on them like a bitch” or his explicit claim that he did not ask permission or look for any expression of comfort or consent. What these hysterics feel so deeply about (as he said) is that the future president used common street slang to brag about his promiscuous sexual habits. He used the same word the vast majority of American adults use for the vulva and the vagina when they talk about sex in private.

The pussyhatters’ thinking is more confused yet. Few of them object to the general coarsening of public life with loud sexual language and imagery, which is unmistakable in many places. Genuinely conservative religious voters who sincerely want talk about sex to stay tactful and private quietly facepalmed when they heard that naughty tape from the Republican nominee for the presidency. Pussyhatters skew the other way, ridiculing the religious right for being prudish and repressed (about most of the avowedly conservative “values voters” in this country they have an unfortunately good point).

What they find so objectionable is that Trump, specifically, used that word. It gets even dumber (does it ever not?), because very few of these hysterical performative feminists objected to Trump’s ostentatious public coarseness when he was peddling it as a celebrity developer and television cosplay executive. The pushback against Trump’s obnoxious antics in the eighties was marginal and ineffectual. The pushback against The Apprentice was EXTREMELY marginal. It was impotent. I was around normies all the time. The only people who even tacitly or tangentially criticized “reality” television were a handful of lefty eccentrics and conservative Benedict Option types.

Then Trump ran for the presidency. He ridiculed politics as self-serious bullshit, humiliated Jeb!, insulted the full slate of movement conservatives on the debate stage, and stood up against immigration and for a reinvigorated industrial policy. All of a sudden he was unconscionably coarse and dangerous. Tens of millions of diehard Democrats who were basically okay with however nasty he was on TV as an apolitical celebrity, including quite a few who enjoyed it, were appalled that he dared speak ill of hard-right ghouls who should have been choked out by furious constituents the first time they workshopped their evil schemes as members of the school board.

This is what centrism gets us. The runup to the election was saturated with deafening campaigns to rehabilitate the very worst Republicans the moment they tested the waters as Trump critics. It’s surreal.

There’s no actual principle to this shit. It’s gone with the wind by the time W. and the gang get rehabilitated. God knows we’re still entangled to death in the desert, but Trump sometimes expresses a keen interest in winding down the desert wars and bringing our boys and girls home for good. Of course the bloodless chickenshit nerds who got us into that ruinous bloodbath in the first place hate him.

The deep story behind the pussyhatting outrage, the movement conservative-Third Way neoliberal alliance’s annoyance over Trump’s distracted wanderings through fleetingly but impressively coherent interests in left populism, the neoconservative objections to his sporadic desire to bring the troops home, and the constant lectures from the Intelligence Community (which did not exist as a formal public concept prior to his 2016 campaign) is that Trump is out of his lane and out of line for expressing political opinions. Nobody gave HIM permission to speak! Nobody gave HIM permission to run for office!

This is why so many people complain that Trump is declasse and his base is exclusively the white working class. The elite and subelite factions so upset by his presidency are uncomfortable with working-class agitation of any kind (because it threatens their wealth, privilege, and power) and hurt that other educated and moneyed people have in-your-face dogshit reactionary politics, not the usual “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” centrist moral evasion or mild-mannered movement conservative politics amenable to centrist Democrats (because that means they have class peers who will never go to the dance with them). Biden’s nomination and election are a soul balm for these insufferable nerds. His victory over Bernie and that whole rabble of downwardly-mobile class traitors and the unwashed generationally poor is soothing lotion for their bunghole.

This is what they mean by decency. They love Biden because his election restores the sacred reservation of high office for careerists who pay their dues (payable out of the US Treasury) and toe the centrist bipartisan line. It resubordinates the rabble to their centrally-approved political betters. It’s easy for them to ignore Delaware Brain Dribble’s repeated foultempered outbursts, expressions of deepseated bigotry, condescending contempt for the acute needs of ordinary Americans, and episodic overt senility because they’re brainwashed and insane. It’s easy for them to become and remain convinced he’s better than Trump: less of an asshole, not an asshole, less of a rapist, not a rapist, I mean, gosh, really, there’s nothing wrong with him for being physical sometimes, he’s just a stutterer who puts his foot in his mouth.

They object to Trump for being too human for politics: too passionate too emotional, too vulgar. His off-color comments are retroactively problematic because he had the nerve to intrude, agitate the undesirables (i.e., the poor crackers they insist are the full extent of his base), and make the lanyards and professional chatterers look like exactly the joyless dorks they are. Never mind that he spent his whole career prior to 2016 bragging about dicking bimbos; one is shocked that the President would speak and comport himself in that low manner.

At the same time, they celebrate Biden for being the genuine human we need in the White House in these troubled times. He’s down-to-earth, he’s poor for a career Senator, he has working-class roots, he’s liberal, and ad nauseam with the bullshit and lies. He’s definitely rich. His parents were white-collar upper middle class by the time he started high school. No attentive, honest obsever would ever make him out to be a poor simple country lawyer whose daddy worked in a wildcat mine.

Mind you, they don’t mean sexually human. That little something-something with the Defense Secretary’s wife didn’t happen. He doesn’t grind she-bikers on his lap in front of their husbands. He doesn’t sniff little girls’ hair. Or if it does, it’s a nothingburger. (Centrism is braindead straight down to its catchphrases.)

This is shit that would get an ordinary man throttled in a church parking lot or beaten to death in a bar brawl. The rules are different for grandees who are guarded by dedicated squads of crack federal agents standing by within lunging distance whenever they leave the house. A man would get tackled or shot for reclaiming his wife from Joe Biden. When a man has that level of protection and publicly, repeatedly makes moves on women in front of their husbands,who are painfully aware they cannot safely do a thing but outwait, that man is not decent. He shows what he is. He’s a predator.

Back east, I used to run with some frisky chicks in MontCo and Manayunk whose boyfriends didn’t mind if they danced up on me, and I on them. Shit, Burmila, I used to have it. Guess I still do, after a fashion, but good God I’m in here writing this crap. One of the chicks was Irish. Her boyfriend was super chill about it, not cucked, just laidback. Two others, both of them Italian, were both dating low-key weird and messed-up Jews. The one chick was the distant, hella crazy kind of Italian. The chubbier, more approachable one named her ugly-ass tomcat after me. That cat was like if you put G. K. Chesterton in a fur suit and then ran him through the warp setting on FaceApp.

It was still an honor.

There’s something wrong with the Italians, but we knew that. Point is, we basically maintained the normal give-and-take that normal people maintain in normal interactions and relationships. (The Insurance Schmuck was how I knew these people, so it was a small miracle.) Nobody showed up with the Mormon answer to a rapper’s entourage and threw his weight around all night. I sure as hell didn’t.

It’s perversely encouraging to consider that a fair chunk of Biden’s coalition only thinks it admires him for his character. The last thing good property-owning liberals want to do is admit that they vote as property owners, not liberals. As I’ve said before, it’s refreshingly apsychotic to get the feeling that the shitlib booj are voting their interests, not acting on an eanest terminal obsession with the tiresome Schoolhouse Rock shuck and jive about civic values.

This shit is why GnocchiWizard encourages his followers to walk away from politics and focus on art, on making the world a more beautiful place. Does this essay count? I feel less brainscrambled than sometimes from The Craft, so there’s that. We’re all just crying out into the void, into the wilderness or some shit. But we still have prayer, just like Jesus. We still have the prayers handed down to us. We can still pray for our politicians. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us against that shitty creep. We didn’t order that. Return to sender.

You think I’m kidding. I wish I were.

A most curious afternoon on the old plantation, as the overseers lay down their whips in horror at what is being demanded of them

There’s something unfortunate, even embarrassing, about revering a junta of nine as the fount and bullwark of rights for a nation of over three hundred million. It was disgraceful to elevate to the same nation’s highest court a blackout-drunk cokehead, serial sex pest, and leering deviant who appeared before the independent, coequal body constituted to approve or reject him for appointment, visibly under the influence of alcohol and cocaine, and who verbally abused its members in their own house on live television.

If this country is in fact governed at the consent of its citizens, the deliberations and rulings of its Supreme Court are a rather embarrassing spectator sport. It’s the Triple Crown for nerds. Don a fascinator and go down to Pimlico for another round of degenerate betting and muddy animal cruelty. Watch that 727 full of containerized pens land on 10 under that Indian Summer soup. The semen will be arriving overnight on dry ice, expedited FedEx. Or maybe it has its own plane. Who the hell knows. Make also horse have milky explosion. Make benefit Glorious Nation of Bougiekistan.

P. J. O’Rourke is right: It’s teen pregnancy, only more so. It’s the third, most inexplicable, branch of government. It’s Bullshit. The power of its writs is the extent to which the people will tolerate them. Ask Chappaquiddick Cool Change what his theoretically fellow Boston Irish thought of edicts from Brahmin judges that they send their children to integrated public schools. It’s often the worst who resist such orders the most: Old Hickory and his henchmen, ethnic bigots in New York during the Civil War, Thanks for the input, Taney. How many Marshals you got?

The courts are famously our bulwark against majoritarian tyranny. If some generationally rich thug wants to pay you a pittance of scrip for sixty hours a week of blood, sweat, and tears in his bakery, well, maybe the scrip is a problem, or maybe it’s all right, or shucks, maybe we’d best restrain ourselves around Mr. Roosevelt. Do a bunch of shitheads from the Chamber of Commerce whose idea of an economy is minimum-wage concession jobs for the local pool of surplus poor in your postindustrial city full of residually leaded walkup apartments need your house for the new ballpark? What do you do if the Oracle of Nine says yes? Go out front against a sheriff’s SWAT team with a pitchfork? Come on. This isn’t Japan. What two-bit plot of rice do you think you’re defending out by the airport?

The whole point of the Federalist Society is to enforce and perpetuate this regime. Pick a name off the list, tell the Thicc Moist Boi he’s the guy, psych him up a bit, and let him go back to his rageposting and celebrity smackdowns and shouting fits on Hannity. It’s the permanent government behind the provisional government. Trump clumsily but deftly straddles the two, i.e., he’s a front-of-the-house distraction from Stephen Miller and the (increasingly overt) spooks, but he’s also allowed to commit forcible rape. Cosby and Weinstein were, too, until they weren’t. Maybe the Donald will do his own Harv Time. He probably won’t, but as one of the whore-ass men on the Manor Hill episode told his classmates on their way to the apology assembly, these are strange days.

The Federalist Society allows presidents, and none less than the one we enjoy today, to wander away from the nuts and bolts of judicial nominations and return to the more engaging crimes of their office. In Trump’s case, this largely means not crimes, but cringe. It takes focus to post. The libs are owned by the most ridiculous distractions. A few minutes of braggadocious locker room talk with Billy Bush is dispositive of his being a sex offender, as opposed to the general incredibility of Juanita Broaddrick’s public accusation of forcible rape against Bill Clinton, or E. Jean Carroll’s against Trump.

We’re using our words against other people who are also using their words. In no way is language Original Sin for enabling us to lie.

*****

Presidents are busy men–and yes, Kamala, women, too–with great burdens on their agendas, like prevailing on foreign officials and Secret Service details to stay at their branded properties and cheating at golf. The FedSoc streamlines the chores. Here’s who we have up next in the ghoul pen, Donny. He’s a good conservative. Get stoked!

Government is a powerful strange attractor for charlatans and incompetents. Most of This Town is stone out of its mind about how any community of ordinary Americans thinks. The Federalist Society only sounds crazy. It’s an outpost of shrewd, disciplined, ruthless operators in a 90% straight-ticket Democratic cityscape of teminally out-of-touch crybabies. The average American doesn’t want psychopathic right-wing nutjobs dictating the laws binding ordinary Americans any more than he (or she!) wants center-right Nudge Theory creeps calling out the rules at will. Disingenuous appeals to liberty work because people genuinely want genuine liberty. It’s the same thing with appeals to fairness. Ordinary Americans do not want devious elites waiving and warping the rules to oppress them.

Some are arrogant enough to think that are among these elites wielding the whip hand, and a few in fact are. Most, however, realize that a strong measure of fairness is essential to liberty and want both. The overclass is hyperaware of this sentiment.

In California this fall, this elite awareness was on garish display in the aggressive, fraudulent campaign Uber and its peer companies ran on behalf of Proposition 22. The app gig companies demand the rule of privilege, not the rule of law. When the state government denied them their way in the public interest and placed them under the ordinary regulations limiting the misconduct of ordinary businesses, they shamelessly, ruthlessly lied their way out of the jam. Their ad copy was all about how the apps allow working people–carefully coded as stable, not precarious–to make extra money when they have extra time, are essential to minorities, busy working mothers, and people who don’t want their loved ones killed by drunk drivers, and other diversionary frauds. They said nothing about the proven facts that Uber–one of the major backers of Prop 22 and one of the worst offenders in the sector–has a great many drivers working themselves to exhaustion, sleeping in their cars because they’re homeless, and increasingly leasing their cars from Uber on subprime loans.

Uber isn’t acutally a jitney cab network. It’s a con and a racket. It’s been a criminal enterprise since Day One. So have many of its peer companies. The happy horseshit about “side hustles” is a wholesale cult abuse tactic. They’ll never say, oh yeah, we prey upon earnest, downwardly mobile poor kids who want to do right by their families, Shanghai them into accelerated depreciation on their cars, cash them out at deep poverty wages, hose them for subprime rents since we’ve exhausted the pool of financially creditable drivers, and leave them flat broke and sleeping at rest areas, because it sucks to be from Vallejo lol but really because our purpose in life is to make ourselves and our degenerate rich cokehead buddies rich enough to gentrify the Tenderloin. The companies did not dare be honest. They knew the consequences.

It’s no coincidence that this is exactly the same playbook used to lure the gullible, the overly hopeful, and the desperate into paying for distributorships at Amway, LuLaRoe, and Jamberry. It’s exactly how shysters in real estate convince working people to exhaust their life’s savings on worthless building lots in California City. We’re good wholesome evangelicals here. We’re good Mormon mommas. We’re pinoy. Let’s talk about how I’m definitely not Quisling on commission, in Tagalog.

It’s vile. The companies hire amoral marketing whizzes to cynically, strategically appropriate AAVE buzzwords, sanitize them of any underworld connotations, and deploy them to convince underemployed normies in Fairfield that it’s reasonable and not at all sketchy to run their cars into the ground driving the pampered affluent around the Bay Area until they abritrarily get fired by computer. You don’t want to be a burden and a shame on your family for not working, do you? You want to start adulting, don’t you? Uber lets you stack cash!

Here’s a backup plan: Show me a suite of incentives that makes some fucking sense and I’ll think about it. Millennials have been systematically traumatized, and “hustle culture” is a big factor. One group works itself to death for no good reason. Another can’t find work at all. #VanLife somehow stopped being Chris Farley as object lesson. Early thirtysomethings who aren’t able to live in their childhood bedrooms in San Bernardino with no employment history end up in tent shantytowns that get raided periodically by police goon squads. Call Ernesto Olivares if you need camping supplies.

Everything went to hell in 2008. There were private meeting where Hank Paulson talked with colleagues about the possibility of supply lines abruptly collapsing and civilization with them. We’ve never recovered. Ranch houses wouldn’t cost a factor of 10-30 over what are most likely overestimated median household incomes in neighborhoods where the better-off end of the local working class sleeps in its cars and the worse-off half get their encampments swept around like so many dust bunnies from block to block whenever the property owners throw a fit.

Normies keep thinking, oh, this is America; this is Norman Rockwell, just maybe with crappier architecture. It damn well is not. It’s Brazil. In places it’s India. Did you get your picture taken with a precious street urchin in a Calcutta orphanage that time you visited on vacation, or mission or whatever you’re calling it? The authorities found diapers in one of the hand-dug shelter tunnels they discovered in Kansas City.

*****

This is the future liberals want. It sounds outlandish until we remember that the Democratic Party’s highest-ranking officeholder in California is a Wilson-Deukmejian Republican. DiFi and Fancy Nancy are both out to brunch. Good morning. Sunday morning. Nancy is exactly the freakish lady of the house who would beat her maid in Sao Paolo for a living. Eric Garcetti is her psychopathic son who sneaks out of his mansion to shoot bums and tramps for sport with dirty cops.

They used to send us Sacco and Vanzetti. Can you believe it, DeAngelo? A colored fellow can hardly get a foot in the door at the Save-Mart warehouse these days unless he speaks Spanish, though, and even then it’s no guarantee.

The Federalist Society wants this shitty future, too. That’s why it preaches its virtues and pipelines extremist young lawyers into the federal judiciary, to unilaterally legislate this future from the bench. The FedSoc’s difference is one of tone: it loudly and proudly wants most of the same tyrannical evils its ostensible enemies in liberalism abashedly want. There are those who are shameless, and there are those who pretend to feel shame.

The partisan rancor of American politics in the new millennium, so notoriously corrosive of our trust in government and civic health and shit, is little but petty squabbles about tone. They represent the Brahmins and the Optimates, two castes with highly overlapping class interests but acrimonious disputes over precisely which set of terrible aesthetics to use in the fulfillment of their interests at the expense of their social inferiors.

Trump occasionally upsets both of their apple carts for a few minutes, then wanders away because he’s bored with populism again. Pay close attention to who comes out of the woodwork on the Republican side to denounce him and praise Democrats for being unifiers in a time of great division, and pay attention to what they think Trump is doing wrong on policy. It’s the same chickenhawk neocon/neolib ghouls as ever, bitching about how we need to keep our military (“us”) embroiled in ruinous imperial campaigns against scrappy desert tribes instead of asserting our rights as a sovereign nation to pursue an adversarial trade policy with openly adversarial trading partners like China. Trump’s shouting and coarse jingoism are problematic, but so is driving a hard bargain right back on Xi Jinping. We can’t dare retaliate against China for dumping industrial exports on our shores or refuse to play chicken when it threatens to boycott our soy. These are the laws of economics.

It makes me wonder: How long is a Chinaman? I dunno. How long? Whaddaya mean you don’t know him? He’s been running that fucking laundry since 1870!

The Democratic Party’s sniveling centrist twerps are appalled by Trump’s crude antics, but they love any other Republican who genteelly promotes even worse policies with a focus and organization Trump doesn’t care to cultivate. The idea it’s heartwarming to see Rick Wilson agree on something with Nancy Pelosi or Elissa Slotkin is barfworthy. These are some of the worst people on earth. What’s happening here is pretty much just some Optimate shitheads contingently defecting to the Brahmin camp because they get heartburn when Trump and his unsavories throw their shouting fits. There’s no fucking principle to it.

It’s exactly how the celebrated bipartisan comity of the midcentury came to be, too. The politics were different but the underlying dynamics were the same. Midcentury elected officials were too scared by what they’d seen in the Depression to dare comprehensively screw over their constituents for profit. George Wallace increased the salaries of white teachers and black teachers alike. Taft (does it matter which one?) mostly behaved himself. If they would have admired Newt Gingrich, they didn’t act like it. They understood the political consequences of telling constituents to go die in a ditch. It was to their constituents that they were more or less accountable.

One look at Mitch McConnell and he’s obviously a miserable cunt. He’s also truly evil. What are we supposed to do with him? Outcivil the son of a bitch? It’s sure worked so far. Then we get smarmy pricks like Ben’s Ass–now goodness, how do I keep misspelling that?–having centrist circle jerks with the amoral twerps on Wait Wait about how a better way is possible, by following their lead. LBJ would rightly have backed Mr. Ass into a corner like he was T. F. Green until he cut the #PassItOn bootstrap bullshit about the all-around incompetence of his own constituents at adult activities of daily living. On the other hand, the nice Cornhusker says nice things about NPR listeners and their weak centrist politics to Peter Sagal, so maybe he’s good.

The moment these ghouls show their faces–Newt, Gateside Downlow, Mitch, Diddlin’ Dennis, Ass–is the moment the Democrats unsheathe their tongue depressers for the gunfight. They resent the old-school pols among their supposed fellow travelers for fighting fair: Bernie hammering the overclass, Traficant wearing a thick top and wide bottoms to the whipping fence, for that matter Tlaib for hitting back at the Donald, even if she confuses Ivanka for his mother. They’ll stoop to the ghouls’ level on policy, but never on decorum.

It’s a preposterous thing to say about Fancy Nancy, but she believes it. We’re allowed to live in our own realities. Mr. Rogers was cool with a little of that, but know this: We have to pay our pound of flesh for the privilege now. We’ll cut off Mina Kim’s interview with Jesus Kristof and Wife unless we hear from our pay pigs. No, better, we’ll cut it off for the balance of the hour to reach out to our pay pigs.

We’re all good little pay pigs!

*****

That’s what we used to call the offertory, or the collection plate. This here ain’t civics; it’s church. Mother Nancy is our high priestess, Adam Parkhomenko our loyal deacon. How could Avignon would have had a pope?

Remember: we’re virtuous. That’s why we’re here. We’re the bulwark against an illiberal president like Donald Trump droning father-and-son birthright US Citizens to death without a warrant oops and mentally unstable bigoted rapists in the White House oops again and the drone president’s emeritus Solicitor General arguing before the Supreme Court that the Nestle Corporation should be allowed to own child slaves well Jesus Christ there’s no way he could have said that.

Of course he did lol. It was just subcontractors tending sharecroppers’ cocoa patches in West Africa. We really wouldn’t want one of our beloved Brands to face civil liability under the Alien Tort Act for practices that are also felonies in every other country with a functioning government. Let’s not be unreasonable here. Sometimes you drive just over the hill from Calistoga on 29 with a case of used seltzer bottles and fill up at the 0.005 cfs watering tub. Sometimes you buy the entire aquifer from an obscure but crooked charter township and sell it back to Flint at a hundred thousandfold markup. Sometimes you prune your own vineyard. Other times you chain a Mexican kid to an avocado tree and whip him until he makes quota.

Right? We’ve all been there. Besides, there are legal reasons not to hold US-chartered multinational corporations liable for violations of the Thirteenth Amendment and subsidiary criminal statutes when the violations were committed in foreign countries whose governments the same corporations bribed to ignore their already laxly enforced laws against slavery. We should leave the corporate corruption of West African governments a local concern. Corruption probably isn’t a big political issue in Nigeria anyhow. Okay, in that case let’s not fixate on how everybody with a political blog in Nigeria is fed up with corruption. Let’s try not to imagine that public sentiment is similar in nearby countries with weaker internet conections.

It’s like if a thousand Bangladeshis die in a preventable factory collapse. Are we really going to put them out of work to keep them safe? We need the underwear. We need the chocolate. They need the work. We know this is true. Matty is a Democrat.

My shirtwaist is getting into one hell of a triangle right now. Neal Katyal actually argued before SCOTUS that Nestle should be allowed to own slaves. It is a spicy Vindaloo. It is a hearty Jollof Rice.

This is starting to sound awfully like our next veep. Kamala is a slavery enthusiast of color. Neera Tanden isn’t white, either. I guess that’s good to know for some reason. Africans sold their own people across the ocean, just like what the old English elites did to their people, specifically to the Cockneys and the Irish. Do you have a problem with any of this straight talk about race? Waka waka hey–Hey, you ain’t black!

Normally I’d feel bad about strawmanning, like, maybe Katyal is just a huge piece of shit, not a Western supremacist or whatever, but this shit is insane. It’s hard to miss the touchy racial and geopolitical implications. Grease it up with some moral relativism and the idpol flies straight through the looking glass. This is not, in fact, how we like to #RaceTogether, here in America. You get food to eat, Ricky Ray, just like we told you.

The allegations against Nestle and Cargill are much worse than just slavery. They include maiming and permanent disfigurement. Our first half-black president’s ex-solicitor general doesn’t think our poor American corporations should be on the hook for their contractors or subcontractors skinning their workers alive. This is really hideous stuff. It’s the worst of the South. American or Global, it doesn’t matter.

The Alien Tort Claims Act was enacted to provide foreigners living under inept or corrupt judiciaries at home recourse to sue US defedants in US courts for crimes the defendants committed against them at home. The slavewhipping Framers of 1789 foresaw the inadequacy of the Ivoirian courts to hear slavery claims. They knew the titans orchestrating the whole thing would take the money and run. It was the same thing they and their cronies did. For God’s sake what fool would leave valuables lying around in front of the slave shacks?

Of course they were hypocrites. It’s bad, but they bequeathed a good framework to their better successors.

And then this creep Katyal showed up. Oh, this isn’t anything we should be worried about, publicly traded companies with US charters and domiciles profiting from the torture and maiming of kidnapped adolescents. Jefferson is easy enough to understand. Katyal is dumbfounding. It’s inconceivable for a lawyer to make those arguments in open court, and in a civil case at that. It’s /Terminal Robert Dziekanski Voice/ shocking. I’m mostly used to the United States being a moral disaster zone, but dear fucking God, that’s bad.

Eichmann got hanged for putting Neal Katyal’s arguments into action under force of law. That’s what Katyal is. He’s a latter-day Eichmann. Arendt you glad his kids don’t go to school with yours?

Look at his old boss, though. No Drama Obama looks bad in hindsight for hiring the creep, but we didn’t need to learn about any of this ugliness to expect bad things of Mocha Haole. We’re just trying to burn dissidents and their minor children to death with remote-control missile jets more aloha here. Mamma followed that bumiputra fellow home under Suharto and the Ford Foundation because, see, I–eh, never mind. It’s a hearty deep dish pie we’re eating here on the South Side tonight.

These are birds of a feather. Kamala is of the flock as well. One thing I’ll say in Barry’s favor is that he’s less in-your-face vile than that bitch. She’s just awful. We’ve been through that before. The latest festivities, to fill the uncanny valley with the bizarre, involve the search for a Senator of Color, perhaps even a Woman Senator of Color, to replace Her, a process that has obliviously missed Loretta Sanchez. I knew they’d do that, but I hadn’t thot of it in a minute. I’m still going insane. Alex Padilla worked for DiFi, so of course he’s colored. I forget who else they were talking about, although I’ve heard nothing about Antonio Villaraigosa. He must not be crooked enough. He isn’t creepy, just sleazy. You call that Spanish? You call that English? John Hatfield Maglited a black guy as a Latino, so I’m afraid so. Last I heard he was gonna be a nurse.

At least Harris and Garcetti aren’t our only colored role models in high office. My grandfather liked to call my uncle Kike Douglas, so I’m sure it’d be hella fun if the Jews were made off-white again.

*****

As I was saying, this Katyal stuff is driving me nuts. How are his arguments not top-of-the-fold front-page national news? Rhetorical, of course; we know why; but still.

We have slavery in the United States, too. We just declare our slaves criminals. In fairness, that guy we scalded to death in the prison shower in Florida was too crazy for a work detail, and Kamala’s idea of slavery involves nothing more than keeping the nonviolent in prison longer so they remain excempt from the minimum wage as firefighters.

Imagine a country where Paul Tanaka is the national police chief and the entire country is the Louisiana State Penitentiary, the other Angola, but they’re all black. This is the Ivory Coast. It’s close enough in a society where a retired government lawyer in good standing with the bar can tell the high court that it’s okay for companies to employ malnourished, grievously maimed chattel slaves, because why not.

*****

Here’s the thing about the Federalist Society, though. Its SCOTUS picks are not operating as programmed. Kavanaugh and ACB listened to Katyal’s chilling proposal and were like, what the fuck man. Gorsuch is a trailblazer on Indian Nation sovereignty.

A couple of things are happening here. ACB seems to be a sincere TradCath. You’re saying they can do WHAT to kids? Excuse me? Kavanaugh is a sexually disordered hot mess, the kind of guy who might be found helping Bob Hanssen set up his bedroom peephole camera after the Opus Dei meeting, but for the Smut Prince of the Lewinsky Hearings his jurisprudence is surprisingly liberal. As bad as his sexual misconduct was, it was always just booze-soaked sexual assault or flashing in the heat of the moment. Press-ganging kids onto a cocoa plantation and leaving them with stigmata is way beyond anything he’d ever do, or even imagine doing. Like his newest colleague, he was genuinely horrified. Judges are expected to maintain a poker face, and they often do so diligently, but these two have consciences and feelings. Gorsuch, in spite of his sometimes atrocious appellate jurisprudence, is normal for a lawyer.

More broadly, though, what’s going on here is that these justices, like so many of their colleagues, care deeply about their legacies. Judges who don’t give a shit about the law or equity per se get cowed into bowing before stare decisis because they hate being ridiculed by colleagues. These three seem to care about the law, not just their reputations.

Neal Katyal cares only about honestly I can’t tell what. He’s unbelievably soulless and amoral. He’s like his old boss. There’s a whole lot of that in the law. The C students become rich, as they say.

All we can do now is wait for the decree of a Jewess, a spic, an abrasive wop, a bunch of honky motherfuckers, and that Gullah weirdo about what exactly constitutes African-American law for Nestle and Cargill. Maybe it’s a bad sign that counsel for Monsanto is on the case. That’s one they didn’t keep down on the farm for sure. What I’ll be most interested to hear is what those who are scandalized by my language think about two Fortune 100 companies having Barack Obama’s lawyer argue that it’s good of them to buy from thugs who went full King Leopold’s Ghost on emaciated captive teenagers.

It should be fun. They’re Harris voters. I should scalp some yard signs.

Hungter Bangin

Gee, the Biden kid is an embarrassment, huh. Democrats are good half-assedly liberal careerist strivers, so we get to listen to their awkward insistence that it’s normal for a dissipated satyr with no professional or educational background in much of anything get corporate board positions paying $50k a MONTH when his father just happens to be the sitting vice president. The kid must have brought something to the table, they say. We don’t just hand out sinecures to the degenerate adult children of crooked government officials, like Nigeria or something. Joe’s no crook!

Uh, have you taken a look at the “state” he represented? I’m sure his staunch belief in personal responsibility for things other than being a huge sex pest, in particular financial contracts entered into as a result of fradulent lender statements, has nothing to do with his decades representing the state where every sleazy corporation imaginable domiciles itself in a storefront mailbox like it’s Mark Judge. This shit isn’t hard to piece together. Hunter Biden acts like the barely functional ne-er-do-well child of any particular tinpot corporate satrap with natural resources cursing his constituents and a Swiss bank account to show for it because that’s exactly what he is. The main difference is that Delaware is a conduit for bribes securing wealth extracted from productive work elsewhere, not itself a country with natural or, as they say, human resources worth exploiting for all they’re worth and secreting the ill-gotten proceeds abroad. It’s Switzerland, but just in the seediest, most dysfunctional possible ways.

The Trump campaign is right that Hunter is a massive scandal. In any normal election, Joe would be toast. To paraphrase Billy Currington, I don’t know much about clearin’ out bogs; I don’t know much about millin’ big logs; I don’t know much about fightin’ mean dogs; but I’m pretty good at postin’ hog. My “I did not lie around in bed all day smoking crack and getting a foot job” T-shirt raises a number of questions already answered by my shirt. Nobody living in the real world who wants to present as upstanding, or even the least bit normal, would give that fuckup brat a position of any public profile, ever.

The problem, for the Trump campaign, is that the complaints about Hunter Biden are coming from the Trump campaign. Hypocrisy doesn’t begin to convey the absurd incredibility of anyone in that family for calling Hunter Biden a degenerate crook. In 2016 they were able to argue, fairly credibly, that Hillary hated people who worked with their hands for a living. She was visibly uncomfortable around hardhats; Trump was enthusiastic, unliike Her. This time, they’re fuming about how that bastard Hunter does nothing but get money for nothing in fake jobs, get strippers into trouble, and smoke crack. That’s a decent description of Donald Trump and his three oldest children, excluding the incest. Hunter may be the most louche son of a bitch I’ve ever seen, but he doesn’t seem as crazy as Don Jr. or Ivanka, or as dumb as Eric.

None of the four of them is employable. Don and Ivanka come relatively close, but like a lot of rich kids–here I mean really rich, not some slacker whose father was a dentist–they dick around in make-believe jobs that will never let their nominally earned income drop anywhere near the high five figures. The sourcing of Hunter’s wages of crookedness through shakedowns of sovereign governments is damning, but it’s really no worse than the Trump Organization doing whatever it had to do to rehabiitate paterfamilias with his coarse let’s-play-office TV show, defrauding students through Trump University, stiffing creditors and contractors under the auspices of its ostensibly bankrupt money laundering fronts, and of course lavishing the useless Trump kids and various cronies with the proceeds.

This money and credit, and the resources they claim as media of exchange, are parasitically extracted from working people: dentists, machinists, winery and vineyard workers (whaddup dawg), strawberry pickers, foot job masseuses. None of these assholes lives anywhere in the vicinity of the real world. I feel decadent for pigging out on Snyder’s honey mustard sourdough pretzel bits and Safeway cinnamon rolls on days when I do six, seven, eight, or sometimes ten hours of physically and mentally demanding vineyard and winery work. Do I earn a quickie with thicky trick for doing that? Financially, lmao hell no; cosmically or karmically, I think so. Compared to our candidates and their useless spawn? God yes.

It’s a common theme in postmodern American life, but deserve has jack shit to do with jack fucking shit. Hunter Biden gets to lounge around with a crack pipe in his mouth and a whore’s feet on his schlong because he’s in a position to extort money on his father’s behalf. The Trump kids and their spouses get direct sinecures in the family company–these days it’s the White House–because daddy is a rich Republican. That’s what rich Republicans do: They give their fuckup children and children-in-law sinecures. Rich Democrats actually believe in meritocratic horseshit for their children, or at the highest levels some sham of it, such as the premise that Hunter was qualified to sit on corporate boards. In general, it pays better to be the useless shithead child of Republican shitheads, not the useless shithead child of Democratic shitheads. The succinct explanation (maybe too succinct) is that Democrats hate their own children.

We aren’t about to have anybody in or around the White House whose means of support or mode of living is not utterly alien to ordinary Americans. Trump, Pence, Biden, Harris: Not one of these ghouls is tempted to do an honest day’s work. Pence is somehow the closest of the four, but every frame I saw of his shifting but constant sneer at the VP debate convinced me that he considers the vice presidency his due, not his honor to hold or his duty to execute. He looked like he was submitting to the imposition of explaining himself to the ungrateful filthy peasants tasked with reelecting him in the worst possible ill humor. Trump is a lifelong flimflammer. Harris is a socially climbing psychopath.

Biden did once have that lifeguarding job, the one where he swung the length of chain at Corn Pop. Yes, Joseph, thank you for sharing that with the class.

These are Irish Catholic family values. The Trumps are right that it’s bullshit, but they’re the last ones who should be complaining about it. Must we really hear it from them? Are we seriously to believe that they have a scrap of moral superiority to the Bidens? Mother of Christ, Huizenga, oil beef hooked the hole why bach to Tipperary to foal fur such a crock o shite.

Ask not what you can do to run train on your country; ask what your country can do to run train on you

One of the few reasons I can see voting for Joe Biden, and I’ve already voted for Howie Hawkins, is to get Amtrak halfway funded again. He might be good for other transit agencies, too, I guess. Joe seems to have a soft spot for Amtrak, though, and it isn’t entirely bullshit, as badly as bullshit clogs his campaign, his persona, and his entire career. It sounds like he actually had good professional relationships with the conductors he met riding back and forth between Wilmington and Washington. He was a pretty strong supporter of Amtrak as a Congressman. I think; I’m not looking it up. He wasn’t an asshole angling to leave his own constituents hanging high and dry so he could make a bogus point about fiscal responsibility like Jumpcord Straight Talk, at least.

Amtrak is taking the Rona even harder than many local and regional transit agencies, and transit has been hit pretty hard. Having somebody in the White House who cares could make a difference. Will it? I ain’t Nostradamus, kid. I can hardly predict my own agenda from week to week, let alone the country’s. Old Gropey is an evil man who is going to make our society worse. Prove me wrong. I won’t feel owned, just relieved. He’s been pushing a Grand Bargain chainsaw massacre on old age benefits forever. He wants your grandmother to run out of cat food and die. Like his dungeonmistress lieutenant cum regent in waiting, he loves to lock up the poor, minorities, or at the very least poor minorities on pretexts, just because he can, and to give this hard land’s horde of two-bit propertied paranoiacs the rimjob they demand under our Extremely Protestant political dispensation.

We remain vigilant for small mercies in these times. No, we don’t; I’m waiting on direct action at a grand scale and expecting jack shit until then. Even so, perhaps these mercies are vigilantly looking for us, to be our blessing. That may be an insane thing to say, but even I cast about, clinging to passing bits of hope like flotsam on the high seas. My point is, Joe is fucking demented that he may not quite remember that he wants to fatally immiserate his constitutents. We may be on course for a belated sunshine of the worm-plagued brain. Still, as I said, I ain’t Nostradamus.

What I do know, or think I know, is this: Trump doesn’t know a thing about trains. I don’t mean that he won’t betray his secret familiarity with trains because he wants to look cool. A normal young boy walks into the scanner shop and walks out to the crossing autistic. Many such cases! No. What I mean is that nothing rattling around in our thicc moist boi’s thicc moist hedd enables him to utter one passably accurate fact about trains. He’s into private jets, anyway, especially when there’s an FAA certificate up for renewal and he feels like flying his 757 without it. He probably doesn’t know much about aviation per se, either, like how planes fly, but he has to be even dimmer about trains.

If he were put in one jail cell and Stormy Daniels two cells down, promising to come over and pee on him if he gets even one answer right, he couldn’t guess within 20 miles per hour how fast the FRA allows passenger trains to operate without positive train control (hint: it’s close to his age lol), or what the hell positive train control is. (It’s kind of like Kamala being the real president.) He couldn’t earn his pee treat off a question about whether the F40PH and the Genesis use the same power steering fluid.

Come to think of it, he doesn’t know shit about cars, either.

Seriously, he’d fail these questions on an untimed open-book quiz. All he can remember is that Anna Wintour was mean to him and Barney Frank had protruding nipples. He’ll talk about industrial policy in hopelessly broad terms for a few minutes, some shit about magically restoring bituminous pit mine headcounts to 1990 levels or whatever during a gas glut that impresses every layman (and woman!) who follows energy news on a casual basis, then start another bitchfest about CNN’s failing ratings.

In general, Joe Biden has a basic understanding of how the real world works. The Donald does not. Here and there he gets it–he likes big trucks and factories and stuff–but it’s a fool’s errand to bet that he has a basic conceptual understanding of, say, why it’s better to have daily passenger rail service to Helper than thrice-weekly service, even though Helper’s a coal town. Amtrak doesn’t register with him as a service that makes his beloved flyover country towns in Red America livable. He may get this about the MTA–Come on, Don, how does the maid get to work? Remember? She’s poor, and she lives in Grand Concourse?–but that’s no guarantee.

Joe gets it. He probably has one of the best granular grasps of railroading in American government. He could probably keep up with me in an impromptu chat about any Amtrak line in the country: service area, stops, basic technical shit, shittiness of the host railroads. If I tried to talk to the Oaf of Office about any of that I assume it would be a dumpster fire, not because he’s ignorant–I floor people with my trainsplainers all the time–but because he’s an intellectually uncurious boor and idiot-savant. Any of you white motherfuckers wanna talk about trains for free? He’s white, but he doesn’t.

Okay, the fellow prefers his daughter. Fair point.

This is all a longwinded way of saying that maybe, just possibly, Amtrak will become less inadequate under Gropey Joe and the Canadian Ice Queen. Maybe. As I keep saying, direct action is what it’ll all really take. Disruptions to freight railroading may well indirectly yield improvements to passenger rail service. What I mean is, go out on strike, fuck up the important shit for the big guys, and you’ve got leverage, just like with air traffic control.

Sure, it’d also help if BNSF stopped running its long oily snakes on the Empire Builder all night long, and I wouldn’t have minded getting off with that chick whose husband was doing 25 to life for murder in the Nebraska state pen, even at Lincoln at five in the morning. Ben’s Ass won’t agree, but homegirl told us Nebraska is “so fucking white trash.”

That’s two more railroad facts than I’d expect to get out of Donald Trump, and two more flyover facts. Nebraska is fucked up and isolated. Do we want it to be REALLY isolated? The cultural exchange facilitated by passenger rail service will be lost on Ben’s Ass, but it isn’t nearly as lost on his constituents. It’s mostly Nebraska’s elites who are idiotic enough to vote for that idiot, just as it took millions of Americans with master’s and professional degrees to get Trump within the blue-collar swing vote’s reach of the presidency.

Biden is out there in Cleveland, getting distracted from his speech by, that must be the commuter, no, it’s the freight. Trump may not know about passenger trains versus freight trains. I’m serious. The gaps in that fucker’s fund of information are popularly exaggerated, but they’re very real. As I said, ask him about the power steering. Hell, ask him why it’s harder to turn the steering wheel on a car before you turn on the engine.

Ask Donald if life is worse, better, or just as shitty in Gallup without daily Amtrak service, and why. Joe has the answer. Not all presidents do.

Hoosier favorite Hoosier faggot?

Andrew Yang debased himself into deep homophobic cringe in that excruciating comedy (sic) sketch about Mike Pence with Julia Louis-Dreyfus because Louis-Dreyfus is an A-List celebrity worth $400m. That’s what we call causation. Wealth alienates those holding it from the real world. This is worrisomely hard to explain to the normies, but it’s some basic shit. What on earth about Louis-Dreyfus or anyone else at her station sounds normal, let alone ordinary? She’s unfathomably rich and surrounded by servants 24/7. Hollywood is full of supremely arrogant divas who take the servants to include Gavin De Becker and Benjamin Brafman. On-call retainers swoop in at a moment’s notice to clean up any mess. Not all maids are Mexicans.

With rare exceptions, celebrities are abnormal, and the prominent among them all the more powerfully so. Michael Jackson’s entrancingly tragic career shows what can happen when the extreme wealth and power of celebrity suffuse a person with unhealed childhood trauma. Other celebrities are object lessons in the ill effects of giving the same wealth and power to the belligerently arrogant (Mel Gibson), the all-around cruel (Ellen DeGeneres), the hypomanic (Charlie Sheen; Tom Cruise), addicts (Charlie Sheen; Lindsay Lohan), those with intractable sexual resentments (Harvey Weinstein), the more generally sexually disordered (Woody Allen), the violently sexually reactive (Phil Spector), other styles of perverts (too many to count), or narcissists (ditto). Many such cases!

We’re all aware of celebrity perversion; the gossip rags see to it. It’s obvious, then, why celebrities ought to be used sparingly in politics: their deployment as proxies is high-stakes, and they’re very often too extremely idiotic to offer a credible upside to campaigns. They work best when the voting public is every bit as idiotic, a situation many would call standard operating procedure. An assumption of popular idiocy doesn’t work as well as it did a generation or two ago, on account of the internet. It’s impossible to direct widespread idiocy from the top down anymore.

The legacy media understandably resent this. Cronkite, they intone, told it the way it was. It’s fascinating that the major networks were the province of eminent gentlemen of the news, of Murrow and Sevareid and Rather, and never of a dumbed-down sleazeball like Pat Sajak. Does Connie Chung bring back greasily unsettling memories? Goodness, I, for one, always expected better of Maury Povich’s wife.

A big bunch of shady characters are chronically resentful of the breakup of the manufactured consent-industrial complex. They never cared for that sweet antitrust action of the free (lol) market. Sensing their looming semirelevance, the political gatekeepers coarsened their sexual shtick, most bracingly with the shitty saxophonist Bill Clinton, a man whom neither boxers nor briefs could keep continent of slick willie. They’d been more demure about His Vigor Broad-Bangin’ Jack; Christ, Bobby, this isn’t the comic books section in the Bowery heyah. By the surprisingly gay nineties, they saved their discretion for flyover country he-frumps like Dennis Hastert and clumsily weird squares like Larry Craig, unconcerned that John Spritzgerald Kennedy at his soapiest dindu nun wah Denny Dundiddly dun.

Public sexual coarseness in American politics, even presidential politics, dates back at least as far as partisanship in Congress. Washington didn’t care for any of that, but Jefferson and Adams did. There have, however, been periods when this sort of seediness was towards the margins of American political culture. For example, it’s historically been rare for partisan conventions to explicitly sexualize candidates on the main stage.

This manifestation of self-respect in politics is missing lately, along with a number of others. It’s painful. Class analysis, the determination of who gets to take whose shit, isn’t fundamentally any more refined, but it tends to crowd out obnoxious idpol bullshit, and idpol wedges are routinely used to distract voters from economic platforms they may find distasteful or unacceptable, i.e., from class analysis.

Here’s the question. Do you want to allocate our collective resources through a political process focusing on the allocation of available resources, or do you prefer to do it through a pissing match about who’s gay? Our elites continue to reaffirm their choice. It is to judge booty. Our preferences may differ, but if that’s the case, they sure as hell didn’t ask us.

*****

Pay attention to what the party kingmakers do to Democratic candidates whose normal inclination is to stay above that seedy shit. Bernie Sanders, who has too strong a sense of dignity to take sexually coarse bait, just emerged from his second primary ratfucking in two successive primaries. Andrew Yang, who is goofier, needier, and more suggestible, debased himself in that cringe-ass standup routine about Mike Pence being gay because Julia Louis-Dreyfus and company thot it was a good idea.

This is where we find ourselves. A slick faculty brat gentrification thug from South Bend is the good kind of Indiana Gay; a slick hard-right talk radio grifter from Columbus is the bad kind. Mike Ponce, Mike Nonce, What Eva: We run with the cool kind of homosexual, a man from South Bend, first name Peter, last name Booty Judge, husband’s name Chasten.

The Democratic Party is fulfilling its civic pledge to give proof through the night that the fag is still there. Surely a state the size of Indiana has nonpsychopathic gay guys, too, but who cares? Mayor Pete is so inspiring! He’s so unifying!

Inspiring and unifying of what, though? Again, the omissions paint a rich picture. Like Obama in his own prime time and Bush the Younger in Trump’s, he unifies the affluent with the good feelings about their politics that they wish to enjoy along with their money. Trump yells a lot, you see. He makes people feel bad by yelling. He shouldn’t do this in our politics. He shouldn’t do this TO our politics. His predecessors weren’t screaming meanies. They were nice.

It helps to forget the terrible things the center-left constantly had to say about W during his presidency, many of them appropriate to his conduct and some of them understated. It REALLY helps to forget about the Patriot Act, Gitmo, the second Gulf War, and the rest of that big basket of fun. Obama has never come close to the very partial reckoning W faced, and it’s a matter of national consensus that the nineties, back before the Bush family organization did its naughty little thing, mostly in New York, were a time of national innocence.

What we actually mean is immaturity. One of the lines of evidence used to push this stupid narrative is the popularity of the Seinfeld show, our girl Julia’s old hangout. I’ll be sure to ask Ricky Ray Rector for recommendations on later episides next time I see him.

It would help if the arguments people who get paid to comment on politics made were grounded in nonfictional politics, not fictional stories about some friends hanging out in the living room. The nostalgia is for make-believe versions of the nineties, as we’re shown all too well by the continuing obsession with that bitch-ass Bartlet. That cracker is made up, and he was made up to sanitize a Clinton administration that had already been scrubbed good and hard for polite enjoyment. It’s a second-order delusion.

Rector’s execution fits all too neatly into the black lives matter narrative. So do so many of our executions. So does capital punishment as an American institution. On the other hand, we don’t want to say bad things about a charming, beloved president emeritus just for having one poor bastard killed in cold blood purely for political advantage. The mob can have a little Barabbas, as a treat.

Forget Lewinsky and all the adulterers and closet cases she scandalized on Pennsylvania Avenue. The definitive vignette of Clinton’s character as a president was his campaign trip back to Arkansas to execute the dessert afterwards guy. I knew he was a psycho from the start, and I was only ten.

This is the point at which we start discovering just how many Americans–not just people anywhere in the distant abstract, but our own–are expendable as pawns in the great game of moderate politics. The Big Dog had to perform a human sacrifice for the Electoral College, you see. He had to show swing voters that he was tough on crime to win election, and with it the opportunity to govern liberally.

That very premise is utterly amoral and rather inept, and sure enough, as President, Bill folded every time some sleazy busybody with a closet full of sexual skeletons called him a dirty liberal. Instead of Joycelyn Elders, he gave us the Defense of Marriage Act. The worst voters in the country had to be placated. The master triangulator focus-grouped the bigots first and foremost. If there’d ever been anything liberal worth a damn about that ghoul, we would never have blundered anywhere near the position in which it was more politically inflammatory to encourage teenagers to carry condoms in their purses (Be Prepared!) than to execute a guy retarded enough to set his pie aside for the evening.

We can see where some of the hostility arises towards face masks in our time of global sickness. Fascist argumentation has, unsurprisingly, driven psychotic ideation about personal and public hygiene. It’s other people who get dirty and sick. Duh. Gentlemen surgeons have no need to wash their hands. Huh. Maybe medicine has a historical problem with fascism of its own.

It’s a poorly kept secret that the Third Way crew is viscerally uncomfortable with the poor. All we have to do is compare Hillary’s demeanor around the poor and their surroundings to Bernie’s. It’s night and day.

If individual poor can pull themselves up by the bootstraps under the cherished neoliberal framework, excellent; they make neoliberalism look as wonderful as themselves. Not so much if they get use public assistance to take care of their families, or if they collectively bargain through unions assertive enough to steamroll management and capital, or if they decide Trump is better for them than Her and vote accordingly. At that point, they suddenly don’t understand their own interests. They’re self-destructive idiots, voting for Elmer Gantry to dispossess themselves.

The Third Way would have said the same thing about William Jennings Bryan. This shit has nothing to do with policy, as the Democratic establishment shows time and time again. What they mean when they say that the poor vote against their own interests is that the poor vote against the interests of the affluent, as asserted by mealymouthed centrist Democrats. Tu casa es mi casa, pendejo. It’s what Mencius Moldbug called a nostrism. Bitch, who’s “us?”

NAFTA was good for the country. Okay, who the hell is the country? Who the hell is the economy? Can the fuckers even distinguish between the overbearing rich assholes who own the factory and the working stiffs who actually run it? Another whiny prick who blew the proceeds of his fabrication business on framed sports memorabilia is on NPR to bitch about how he *needs* discount Chinese steel to compete on the mercilessly competitive market. What the fuck does that do for a town full of people who got laid off when the hot mill closed, whose kids are now floundering on the margins somewhere between dead-end jobs at Dollar General and an archipelago of dope squats? What are the aggregate numbers worth? Who puts food on the table in the fucking aggregate?

Ah, swamp critters with think tank salaries and portfolios to defend. Of course.

They can’t possibly imagine they’ll win disaffected voters over by thundering on high from their 90% model minority (Asian/White) neighborhoods in Arlington that Trump’s supporters are on his side because they’re all unrepentant, incorrigible racists and sexists. Can they? Some of them are delusional enough to believe it, but the bigger impetus is their burning desire to humiliate and punish their inferiors. It’s the same thing they in the ACA with the individual mandate and the doubling down on affluent parents as the channel of health insurance for downwardly mobile young people whose age peers were already raising their own school-age children. Fuck you for not having insurance. Fuck you for not having a job. Fuck you for not deftly and happily Navigating The Marketplace.

Fuck you for thinking the company owes you a decent job doing something else if it won’t give you a decent job on the floor at the mill. Learn to code, bitch. Stack cash with Uber. Fuck you for not having a 110% serviceable late-model car. Invest in yourself. Fuck you for not finishing college.

And of course, fuck you for not voting for us. Why are you such a bitter uneducated racist? This abrasive lace curtain Irish car salesman-ass shithead from the Commonwealth of Chancery Court, LLC, and his creepy diversity office dungeon mistress lieutenant from the sniveling part of San Francisco (which one?), aslo a prosecutor, are here to defend you against predators.

Just trust us, for God’s sake. You ain’t black if you don’t. Why are you asking me about guns, punk? Let’s take it outside.

A bonechilling faculty brat sellout whose whole career reads as proof that affirmative action and Title IX are vectors of capricious discrimination is here riding shotgun to Bhad Bhabie with hair plugs, and we’re supposed wholeheartedly believe them decent, empathetic people, committed public servants looking out for us always.

There’s much to be said for voting for Trump expressly to punish these ghouls back. It isn’t hugely much; the #resistance is right that Trump’s bad. Maybe Nancy could fucking do something about him, then, like not expedite his homeland security wish lists. Mitch McConnell jammed up Barack Obama’s judicial appointments just to be an asshole. There’s no procedural reason Chuck and Nancy can’t both run a turtle-speed train on Trump’s entire agenda until he at long last behaves himself. Instead, Lady Gelati won’t even play good cop to Rashida Tlaib’s bad cop. She won’t even be Captain Queegan, sympathetically but firmly warning a punk to shape up and watch his ass, to Macky Mack, Steyaff Seaagent.

Good God is that an odd squad. It’s no wonder, then, that the convention featured a jarring juxtaposition between Pete Buttigieg waxing earnest about how he wasn’t allowed to live his gay truth until Obama and Biden finally allowed it with Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s obnoxious gag about Mike Pence being a perv and a fag. It’s no wonder that Yang got ganged into taking part in that extreme cringe. They would have decked him out in Kente if he’d been in town for that helping of spicy Jollof rice.

There’s zero principle to any of this shit. The orchestrators don’t care about the welfare or survival of ordinary African-Americans. They don’t care about sexual liberties. Our smarmy phony is good for being gay; your self-righteous demagogue is bad for being gay. Hurr durr Trump and Putin are butt buddies. First of all, that’s too improbable to consider, but what do coarse schoolyard taunts add to the already weak case that Trump is Putin’s Manchurian Candidate? Besides, we/ve known for years that the Saudis don’t need to personally sex our officials to have their way with them.

This is the party of sexual privacy as a human right, if you can believe it. Can they just let him have a private sex life and focus on something that matters? They’re studiously silent about the Epstein affair, the great Implicator of Faves. Maybe this would be a good time for shysters running cover for an international child sex trafficking organization to demur about their salacious speculation that Mike Pence is a switch hitter. It’s obnoxious, it’s stupid, it’s morally and civically derelict, and it isn’t going to win them a single vote.

Fancy them caring about that, though.

The Democrats are impressively unfunny. They raise it into something approaching an art. As performance bits go it’s excruciating, but there’s something awesome about their dedication to inept self-seriousness so total as to produce political standup routines with all the lameness of Jimmy’s summer camp set on South Park but none of the entertainment value.

Maybe comedy, too, is that polarized. Shit. It’s confusing to come across so many liberals who see absolutely nothing funny about the Oaf of Office when he waxes rude about “college students, crummy students, great students, horrible students, dumb people, liberal people, conservative people….people with PhD’s from MIT, people with PhD’s from crummy colleges.” Their objections to him are aesthetic: Barry and now even George the Younger barely register with them for having done things that were just as bad. Paradoxically, this keeps them from enjoying the amazing aesthetic gifts he brings to the presidency.

Again, this shit is a distraction from the people’s business, which the Democratic Congressional caucuses steadfastly refuse to do. If they brought serious articles of impeachment against him and eighty-sixed his ass, he’d be free that night to get airtime for blurting out the same ridiculous shit as ever, just not from a high public office invested with the most frightening powers.

The Democrats care about aesthetics. What distinguishes them from the Republicans is that theirs are atrocious. A small community of squeamish nerds digs that shit and everybody else hates it. The Epic Clapback could have been fun, but Fancy Nancy doesn’t know how to have fun. The giorno di gelati came close, but it, too, was overly performative and forced. Nobody had fun at the Kente Cloth Kneeling Ceremony. They don’t enjoy delivering their lectures.

They’re too desperate to defeat an opponent they refuse to meaningfully oppose to enjoy Funny Uncle Joe’s recurrent brain scrambles, which–let’s be honest–are hella funny. “Covid has taken this year, just the outbreak, has taken more than one hundred year–Look, here’s it–The lives, it’s just, it’s–I mean, think about it, more lives this year than any other year in the past hundred years.” If it’s okay to ridicule anyone for talking like that, Joe’s it. He’s a psychopath pretending to be a left-liberal and a reactionary authoritarian at once, nominated for the presidency on the cusp of eighty because his crooked party fixed the primaries on his behalf, appearing in public with a skull full of watered-down Quaker Instant Oats.

Why can’t we make fun of his cokehead son? He got the kid sinecures with Amtrak and Burisma. I make fun of Larry Kudlow for being a cokehead, too. They aren’t all that shitty, but a lot of them are. Rob Ford is okay, though; dudes rock!

It’s not like the Trump Organization, which we actually have good reasons for calling that, isn’t crawling with shambolic characters and covered in the splatter of their hilarious substance abuse problems. Steve Bannon seems like one the Dems could fun to good effect. Our boy Stephen Kevin decided to bamboozle the griftable with a story about how he was going to Build The Wall, privately, on federal property, with their donations. The only thing that chunky dunker was about to build was another mound of corned beef and cabbage to ward off the whiskey munchies. Can you believe it?

Bannon, like his donors, had what the Massachusett elders called Lassen Knee Innis Hat. Did I ever tell you about the time Vladimir Putin rode a tiger all the way through the taiga? Somehow, these stories only ever get worse; that one’s so headspinning I can hardly bear to tell it myself. Can you believe they got Charlie off and gave him his own checkpoint? CHAHLEE! My favorite Vova anecdote, though, is about the time he joined a search party to look for a group of old hunters who’d been friends in the war, a Czech, a Brit, and a Frenchman. The search party came across two exceptionally plump and sated bears. Uh-oh. Vladimir Vladimirovich drew his sword and with a single deft stroke sliced open the belly of the sow, revealing the Brit and the Frenchman. Turning to his horrified companions with a shrug and a smirk, he said, “Well, I guess the Czech’s in the male.”

That was free, whatever the hell it was supposed to be. The wall isn’t. When I first read about Bannon’s wall grift, I assumed he was hard up for cash after living beyond his means. Then I read that he was worth $48m, acid enough for as many hot tubs and trips as he desired. It turns out what he did was almost archetypal: people who study white-collar crime say it’s never the guy making $80k who goes crooked for a windfall of $3m, but always the guy making $3m who cheats for an extra $80k.

That tubby old parrothead-looking-ass lush stacked the cash because he was totally gonna build the wall. They had to send a crew of Coasties and Posties out to bring him back from #YachtLife. What the hell was wrong with him? Switzerland doesn’t have a maritime border, but Costa Rica does. You might want to Christopher cross into waters that don’t fall under our extradition treaties, big guy.

Whale oil beef hooked, Huizenga, it is a hearty Colcannon. Mercy, my Dutch love, oil beef hentai Eire leaf hooked to lie me yeas upon the flue of lard sloughing off that greasy hot cross bun.

That was rude. I guess we should just let the make-believe Veep call the real Veep a fag instead. Vote for Cuomo, not the homo. *Impossibly annoyed Alan Chartock bedtime voice* I’ve always wondered when the party would run a colored man for that office.