Don’t fence me out

Funny thing: telling voters that their hometowns, the places where their families have lived for generations beyond living memory in some cases, have arbitrarily been slated for depopulation and that it is their sacrosanct civic duty to shut the fuck up, cut the nostalgia, get with the program, retrain at their own expense for jobs of the future that may not still be available when they get out of school, and relocate, also at their own expense, to some costly part of the country where they have no friends or family is a losing political proposition. It raises hackles in the heartland. Angry voters who very sensibly believe that their communities and their very survival are under imminent threat vote against it.

Sheltered centrist idiots who have spent a generation or two shitting on these same voters and communities can’t for the life of them imagine what provoked these sore losers to vote for Donald Trump. The lack of empathy here is hard to believe. Intellectually I’m perfectly well aware of how arrogant the yuppie swarm gets when challenged, but I’m still blown away to hear it or hear about it. It’s apparently a total, absolute inability to understand how or why the same voters and communities that they’ve been shitting on for two generations, ever more violently by the year, would want to put a stop to the depredation and would rationally vote for the candidate who explicitly promised to restore their communities to health and prosperity. They can’t imagine that these voters didn’t fully trust the good faith of Hillary Clinton, the her of #WithHer, a woman who had been directly involved in yuppie depredations going back to the seventies, was hesitant to engage with blue-collar voters, and couldn’t hide her contempt when she did comment on their plight. Now that this constituency has cost them their prized election, they can’t refrain from trying to shame these same voters into belated compliance by accusing them of voting against Hillary due to their rank racial and sexual bigotry, since it’s obviously impossible that their woke slay queen alienated them with blatant, open personal insults in the course of bitterly complaining about their lack of enthusiasm for her campaign.

Wisconsin may have been off the schedule, but these good Democrats are always up for a vacation back to their favorite part of Ohio: Whinesburg. Ooh, call Engine 51; you just got burned! As cheap as that was, I can pretty well guarantee that anything the centrists would think up in response would be completely fucking lame. Trump’s “Little Rocket Man” is fun. “Nothingburger” bores the sweet everloving shit out of anyone normal.

Right there we have a critical weakness in Clintonworld. If voters assume that they’re about to get ripped a new one regardless, why shouldn’t they go for the class clown who will distract them with crude jokes instead of the tattletale valedictorian and class president who’s always salty that she isn’t more popular with the misfits? Of course, there’s always the smart kid in the back of the classroom who didn’t have a lot to say but stood up for the loner scapegoats when bullies picked on them and seemed to get along well enough with most of the class. Surely this is one of the reasons why voters admire and trust Bernie Sanders: even if politics are still a glorified high school popularity contest, they’ve got someone stepping up to the plate who seems to transcend the bullshit, a basically normal person who focuses on serious issues like an adult instead of taking a side and stoking the communal unrest while the jocks and the nerds scheme to murder one another.

The Democrats couldn’t tolerate anyone so principled. They couldn’t even countenance him as the running mate on a ticket that he would have singlehandedly won for its divisive principal. They just had to take on that weird dork Tim Kaine and keep trying to humiliate Bernie while he barnstormed for them and their obscenely wealthy, widely hated ex-first lady kept plotting her revenge-of-the-nerds fantasies. They had to ineptly fume at their clownish opponent and, worse, his voters about how consummately meritocratic they were when they couldn’t even come up with serviceable retorts to his playground insults, let alone ignore them and get the debate back on topic. You know, like normal adults.

It’s the damnedest thing, but certain key constituencies didn’t take kindly to their constant belittlement by a sheltered clique of bitter try-hards. They didn’t enjoy being lectured about their bigotry and backwardness by neurotic, hypocritical, goody-two-shoes grifters who would never be sated no matter how much wealth and power they seized. They find it ridiculous, at best, to watch affluent centrist dipshits get triggered when Trump makes fun of Mika Brzezinski for looking like shit after a bad facelift. How in hell would they be able to afford facelifts? They can’t afford dental checkups.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find the decency and the self-control not to make fun of constituencies whose votes one hopes to win. Feeling genuine empathy for them should do the trick. Bernie sympathizes with industrial workers, current ones for doing honest labor well, laid-off and disabled ones for having run into bad luck while trying to make an honest living, and it comes through. He instinctively knows how to talk to and listen to hard hats. He gets their kitchen table concerns and the tricky nuances involved. He doesn’t blurt out that “we” are gonna put a bunch of coal miners out of work, even though he knows that the industry is on the skids and that mass layoffs come with the territory. He recognizes that good leadership requires working around company town busts, and that that’s always complicated and difficult. Plenty of people who’ve lived their whole lives in Appalachian coal towns very much want to diversify their economies so that they stop being dependent on the whims and uncontrollable commodity cycles of the coal industry. They trust Sanders for meeting them well more than halfway.

The Donald comes at industrial policy from a cruder, simpler, and frankly more ridiculous stance. He’s the guy who’s gonna fuck up everyone who took your job and make someone put you back to work. Most people in and around the coal industry know that this isn’t too damn likely, since they’re a lot savvier than coastal reporters and editors tend to gather on their occasional prole-whispering tours, but they also know that the thing about a Hail Mary pass is that it might, against the odds, be completed. Besides, there’s probably something to be gained by having a rough guy go rattle the cages of globalist elites and see what he can shake out of them.

It is not, then, irrational or self-destructive to vote for a man one considers a vulgar clown with no attention span because he seems to have his heart more or less in the right place and against a famously detail-oriented social climber because she seems to have her heart firmly in the wrong place. Frankly, Hillary Clinton did better with young people and minorities than I expected. That is, she established more popular credibility than I expected, far more credibility than I was willing to grant her at my most sympathetic. I expected more of Hillary’s supposed base to defect to Trump in an effort to protect their own economic self-interest. Hillary’s lack of gratitude to this base for turning out really rubs me the wrong way, and I can’t imagine that it hasn’t been damaged the Democratic Party’s overall reputation.

The Democratic strategists, the numbers nerds, knew where the disaffected voters were: specifically, in hella swing states. They knew that a bunch of Midwestern states that are always up for grabs were once again up for grabs. Knowing this, Hillary could have stumped in Wisconsin. Instead, she went to three performances of Hamilton. She didn’t have the time to tell Midwesterners living and voting today what she was planning to do for them, but she had plenty of time for encores of a trendy Broadway rap opera about what certain politically correct elements like to call dead white males. Engaged, independent-minded voters in the Midwest must be looking on like, what the fuck, man.

It’s perfectly reasonable, prudent, in fact, to wonder what the talented tenth wants to do with, or to, the teeming masses of provincial losers. I have a bachelor’s degree and no debt, and I just barely feel safe from their direct depredations. I have marketable craft and trade skills, too, and these seem pretty close to worthless in socioeconomic terms. It’s inevitable that the neoliberals will move the goalposts again, probably after they’ve successfully marketed their way into a STEM trainee glut.

Those of us left behind have been described as the “Unnecessariat.” The idea is that we’re surplus and irrelevant and therefore should be left to our own devices, to flounder. A darker, but no less credible, assessment is that our betters want us to go to hell and die. The link above includes some alarming maps of suicide and drug overdose epidemics. These are obviously true crises devastating large regions of the country. It should come as no surprise that voters in many of the affected counties supported Donald Trump. That’s the least they could do to rebuke the neoliberal order and the Wellesley-Yale yuppie trying to brightside them into continuing to support it.

The things that national and transnational elites have done to many of these communities are the stuff of civil wars. We’re all lucky that the devastation of these places hasn’t provoked systemic insurrection or guerrilla violence, but it would be hard to blame people for taking up arms when their hometowns are in the grip of deliberately engineered social collapses verging on genocide. The language and intellectual framework of international human rights policy really are apt and useful here. The neoliberal masters of the universe would rather not have to send in tanks stateside, but they most certainly are scheming to force the removal and internal displacement of vulnerable minorities from their hometowns. It’s no defense that these minorities happen to be majority-white and distinguished mainly by class, not indelible ethnic or racial markers. It’s still absolutely inexcusable.

Liberalism, as it has come to be construed over the past thirty or so years, doesn’t offer a fucking thing to the victims of this patchwork Trail of Tears. (Sick sidenote: more than a few of the white victims of the current dispossession campaign have significant Cherokee blood. #RaceTogether.) It offers sexual liberation on condition of chronic exposure to homelessness and starvation; fuck whom you like as you like, but go to hell if you expect to somehow get three hots and a cot out of this deal without enlisting in the armed forces. Don’t expect the universe to hand you enough money to afford car repairs, medical care, or food just because you work yourself to the bone every week, you whining ingrate.

This is a flagrantly illiberal regime. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: great, looks like we’re three for three in the foreclosure of human development in a country that was founded on that very proposition and continues to overflow with grievously misallocated wealth. This is a grotesque scandal.

And sexual liberation? Lol jk, you have to ask for explicit consent every fucking step of the way, all the way up to the actual fucking, or risk being accused of rape for making clumsy, artless moves on some club skank. Unless you’re a sexy scumbag, that is; in that case, you’ve got your license to grope a bitch. A decent person is hopeless to navigate this minefield of disorder, dysfunction, and burgeoning dysgenic horror, but an indecent person is in great shape.

Alcohol inevitably fits into this equation most uncomfortably. Americans have had a plainly insane relationship with alcohol for over a century and a half, in addition to our recurrently weird sexual hangups. If we were just privately dysfunctional that would be our unfortunate private problem, but we make public policy on the basis of this dysfunction. Alcohol has been used to catalyze sexual trysts for as long as there has been alcohol, but we’re really fucking touchy about both, so hoo boy, we’ve got trouble. We have an exceptionally louche celebrity culture and more than our share of alcoholics, many of them trying to ape that culture, but we also have a huge cottage industry of rape panic, very little of it focused on actual threats of actual rape. Brock Turner committed a true rape, but he can’t hold a candle to the sexual predation of Daniel Holtzclaw, and rather few of those who got swept up in the Turner thing seem to know the first thing about the Holtzclaw scandal, or to care.

I can’t shake the feeling that much of the outrage over Turner came from women who secretly wanted him to not exactly rape them but at least give them a good hard dominant fucking. Don’t get me wrong; I never thought the guy looked particularly handsome or charming, but I can see how he might, so I can definitely see some room for sexually repressed dipshits to project onto him and use him as their scapegoat for sins of the flesh. He may have had that almost sickly pale white look and been straying dangerously close to that classically sexy Lynn Majors hairstyle, but he was on an elite university swim team, and that’s almost as fuckable as the lax boys who captivated the Hall and Oates Effect bitch what’s-her-name who roomed with Charlotte Simmons. Nah, on second thought, Brock didn’t do that shabby, half-assed high-and-tight thing on top while letting it all hang out in the back, so I guess he had that going for him, but still.

Sexy male nurse Lynn Majors memes are still an improvement to the American sexual discourse. It’s that deadly. All these irresistible liberties are dangled in front of us, just beyond our reach. We’re allowed to indulge in theory, but in practice we lack either the time, the money, or the social skills to take advantage of them, and we’re liable to be punished arbitrarily for some trifling misstep or bit of forwardness while some total asshole gets off Scot free for everything shy of indecent exposure and public lewdness in the same trashy nightclub. Meanwhile women, especially, but maybe also men are supposedly unable to give any consent whatsoever to sex acts when they’re so much as mildly drunk, as if the average clubber goes out to stay sober or gets drunk to stay chaste.

There’s no coherence or principle to this regime. The cultural mainstream of sexual liberation in the United States is still decisively on the side of public loucheness under conditions of moderately diminished capacity; sober, thoughtful consent is for prostitutes, and so is not getting the damn clap every few weeks. No car salesman or military recruiter worth a damn would execute a contract with someone who showed up drunk, but the nightlife scene is deliberately set up to blur the lines between sobriety and intoxication, between reality and fantasy. Hey hey hey!

If we all assumed normal adult competency and ethics, adjusted for intoxication levels, this might be a manageable arrangement, but we’re beset with busybodies who insist that, especially where the fairer sex is concerned, there is no middle ground of competency between stone cold sobriety and Rob Ford muttering himself to sleep in an increasingly slurred and incoherent screed about the Jamaicans while the cocaine inevitably wears off and by the way Mark Saunders is second-in-command of the police force.

There’s always a middle class somewhere not that far off in the background, trying to make the center somehow hold. Or, in the US case, maybe there isn’t one. Let’s maybe not count on things that aren’t fully present and accounted for, how about that.

Cultural liberalism isn’t a slam-dunk in a country as traditionally religiously preoccupied as the United States, but paired with an economic platform that doesn’t beggar workaday people so that the already obscenely successful and wealthy may continue to gorge themselves, it’s somewhat within reach. For one thing, the working class in flyover country bristles at religiously tinged meddling in its sex and domestic lives by intrusive landlords, bosses, social workers, and the like.

So what does NPR do? Why, it flies a crew out to Muncie to brownnose factory owners while they complain about how the applicant pool is nothing but lowdown druggies. Everywhere it fucking goes, House Voice sniffs out the local yuppies and sucks up to them. This is what we get for allowing people who’ve known nothing but success and acclaim to run everything for us.

These assholes can’t imagine that struggling communities in forgotten, out-of-the-way places and the people trying to get by in them deserve some space to find their way and also some help when they ask for it: that is, the opposite of letting the company close the factory down and fire everyone without consequence and then telling the locals to pack up and abandon the lives they’ve struggled to build. They’re fine with “redevelopment” scams for the center-right and “revitalization” scams for the half-assed center-left, but they can’t brook any arrangement that doesn’t have some Boss Hogg or Elmer Gantry or yuppie asswipe wielding the whip hand over the most vulnerable and helpless.

How can I, a Palo Alto native and proud Californian, insist that these forgotten, godforsaken places in the hard interior deserve to exist and endure? Because it’s wrong to arbitrarily tell another person where to live. Because it’s wrong to destroy communities. Affluent people from the coasts and the big cities are free to buy getaways in the interior fairly; they have no right to have the natives run out like so many besieged Indians so that they can later snap up their abandoned property at fire-sale prices. That’s completely fucking wrong. Quiet resentment of losers in flyover country for actually having intact communities instead of loose, unreliable networks scattered across a multinational yuppie archipelago is no excuse. Cowboy the hell up and admit that the losers are clinging for dear life to something worth cherishing.

This is all easier said than done. Look at what the neoliberal ratfuckers did to New Orleans after Katrina, scattering the poor to Baton Rouge and Atlanta and Houston to more smoothly turn the husk of their city, the only place many of them had ever known, into a Cajun-Creole-ass tourist theme park. Look at what’s being done to Detroit, with all the whiteys rolling in from the suburbs while still registering their cars at Mom and Dad’s place back in Grosse Pointe to save on the insurance while amazingly not noticing the existence of black people in a city that’s ninety percent black and Kwesi Millington for Sheriff. Well, I’ll be shocked! Ray Nagin’s Chocolate City grandstanding was obnoxious, but conceiving of Detroit, of all places, as a Whitey Rez is batshit fucking insane and rather pernicious, even at a myopic neighborhood level. Like, do you motherfuckers have any idea of who has been living there? Any idea at all? For fuck’s sake, one of the black Detroit homicide detectives on The First 48 was raised in Hamtramck, which actually was Honkytown for a long time and still has more of a community than a Community.

It’s about time that I did some capitalization. Hell, the cracker contingent in Camden doesn’t erase anyone who doesn’t mind being around some damn drugs. Wasn’t no white people up in that motherfucker before the dope started shipping, or so goes the word on the street, but drugs were what integrated the West End of Sacramento before Brown v. Board of Education, too. #TeshTips: Alcohol is a drug. Why do we have more racial comity and goodwill from nihilistic dipshits who are chasing bad dope sets into the ghetto than from sober, stably employed bougies? Probably because they, unlike the gentrifiers, so cherish their drugs that they don’t mind living in the ghetto (in the ghetto) to get them. Elvis was against drugs when he wasn’t holed up in Graceland taking drugs, but at least the old boy ate well, and if you’re gonna die young, that’s the way to do it.

Drugs, amazingly enough, are a positive reason to move somewhere new. Best chicken in Camden, as the cops say when they figure that it’s futile to keep chasing junkies around the hood and they might as well just drive around until end of watch. Hey, it works for the California Highway Patrol when the lieutenant hasn’t approved an hour and a half straight on the clock at the Truckee Starbucks. I must grudgingly admit that gentrification scams are also a positive reason to move somewhere new. The arts district may be a gaping existential void, and it’d be a horror show to see who all they drove out of the neighborhood and where they drove them, but I generally avoid considering it my problem unless the yuppies are seriously fucking up Sacramento. (Spoiler: they are.)

What’s not a positive reason to leave town is that hostile outside forces shut down the mill and it’s just about impossible to make a living. That’s coercive, and coercion is inimical to liberty. Good luck explaining this to right-libertarians, but it’s true.

How crazy or pie-in-the-sky am I to assert that any legitimate liberal project would strive to eliminate this sort of economic coercion from citizens’ lives? Am I nuts to claim that this is the only way for liberalism to be electorally viable? FDR might not have carried on so about bottle rats at nightclubs when he had secretaries to bang, but this much he would have seconded wholeheartedly.

Let’s flip the script. How many bricks would be shit if the hip urban elements of the yuppie swarm were arbitrarily dispossessed and told that the Economy had moved to South Bend and Lincoln, which by the way had just seen the cost of housing multiply by a factor of five? Those are both cities that I’ve ridden through on the train and mean to visit before long, and Lincoln apparently has a labor market that isn’t in the toilet. The yuppie swarm would still be up in arms, and rightly so. It would be wrong to tell a bunch of people, okay, we just wrecked Brooklyn for shits and giggles, so you have to move to Nebraska at your own expense if you want to stay above water, and tough shit if you’re broke.

It’s just as wrong to tell people who’ve spent their whole lives in Crete or Friend or Youngstown or Flint that they have to pack up and move to one of a handful of overpriced hot markets on the coasts if they want to have a chance of not being completely ruined by hostile forces that are deliberately wrecking their local economies and public infrastructure for the easy profit. If the Democratic Party were actually liberal, there’d be no need to spell any of this out, and likewise if the Republican Party were actually conservative, but thievery isn’t an ideology.

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Russian to judgment

Uh, shit, that was uncalled for, but so is the endless Democratic Russia hysteria.

Look, I’ve been to Russia. I spent a full month staying with host families there, first in Moscow and then in St. Petersburg, in the summer of 2002. My personal feelings about Russia are complicated and ambivalent, but they’re personal. They have to do with stuff that has no bearing on Russia’s foreign policy and only accidentally anything to do with its domestic policy. I don’t feel like ruminating over the details, but my worst experience was a run-in with some bad cops, so I have no trouble believing that Russia has serious civil liberties shortcomings. I also walked by at a distance of ten or twenty yards while a guy was getting kicked repeatedly in the guts by two other men on a side street off the Nevsky Prospekt, in a part of St. Petersburg that I otherwise took to be exceptionally prosperous and orderly, and quite a few of the Russians I’ve met over the years, both in country and back in the US, back in the USSA, have had an unnerving nihilistic bearing. I also know full well that I came nowhere close to seeing the worst that Russia has to offer.

The point is that no one has to convince me that Russia can be fucked up. Mine own lying eyes have seen it. Truth be told, few things have made me prouder or more grateful to be an American than personally discovering and then reading further about what a social and political clusterfuck Russia is. In many crucial ways it is a deeply troubled and unhealthy society. I doubt any significant part of it has fully turned the corner in the past fifteen years, and by some measures it regressed greatly after I made it back home (notably, on racist and xenophobic violence). So I’m not averse to legitimate criticism of the old bear den.

Nothing about the moral panic over Russian interference in the 2016 US elections is legitimate or sane. It’s the batshit fucking insane raving of pig-ignorant political extremists. It’s rabies. These deranged shitbirds have poisoned the well so badly that I can hardly trust a bad word about the Kremlin from the BBC, an organization that would hopefully be in a position to hold the Kremlin to some account. NPR is a hopelessly lost cause. I thought things were getting sketchy after they fired Bob Edwards and ramped up the House Voice, but I couldn’t see anything this surreally crazy coming down the pike.

Every time Russia engages in some modest bit of statecraft or spycraft, it magically becomes the world’s premier force of fifth-column subversion and international mind control. It’s unbelievable that we’re hearing about this absolutely insane shit on NPR and not on Coast to Coast AM. The Kremlin hired a few hundred undercover PR flacks to propagandize and troll American voters on social media. It spent a couple hundred grand on Facebook ads. Big fucking deal. We just had an election season that cost multiple billions of dollars and produced a big drop in turnout from 2012, along with a huge undervote in the presidential race, which is usually the main attraction when it’s on the ballot. The Kremlin was an irrelevancy. It was spitting into the wind.

Besides, everything the Kremlin has been accused of doing is done on a much wider and more sustained basis by Western spooks, lobbyists, and fellow-traveling shady pieces of shit. We never hear the hysterical Russia horseshit broadened to criticize AIPAC, the Pentagon bot army, or the multinational corporate leviathans. These outfits are the ones responsible for the serious propaganda. It’s not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a start. The Kremlin hiring underemployed twentagers to engage Americans with their our hearts go out to the Ceausescu family, sad day for Nicolae English can’t hold a candle to this fog machine.

If we’re worried about their ads corrupting our citizens’ minds, uh, Citizens United, fuckwits. Pervasive, unrelenting advertisement campaigns orchestrated by Bernaysian master manipulators are fine as long as they’re being run out of the usual WASP nests (Madison Avenue, K Street, Langley, Silicon Valley) (and, yes, they’re cooler than they once were with the Irish and the Jews and so forth), but Katie bar the fucking door if someone shows up at a Moscow ad agency with a hundred grand to spend on English-language copy. When our old boys do it on a colossal scale, it’s mere advertising; when the damn Red Octobers do it on an almost bashfully modest scale, it’s high treason.

Now we’re hearing feverish calls for Russia Today to be registered and surveilled as a foreign lobbying organization. Gee, with a name like that, you don’t say that it has possible cultural or political ties to Russia. What’s so rich a Yank could barf about this is that RT is open about its presumable ties to the Kremlin (not much of a Union of Right Forces organ, to judge from its coverage), while CNN, the WaPo, and so forth fraudulently pretend not to be crawling with Anglo-American spies, junta-ready generals, ruling politicians, seedy party hacks, and similar trash.

This doesn’t even begin to touch the endless corporate interference, even in NPR and PBS, our federally chartered and funded public broadcasting syndicates. Julie Rovner reports for Kaiser Health News now; no way that’s run by a major for-profit health insurance company and hospital operator that might have a political or policy ax to grind. And no way are my insurance premiums somehow being pooled to fund this highbrow Intelligence for Your Life crap. The mainstream media in the US are little more than payola, product placement, and Pravda-grade regime bulletins these days. NPR and PBS manage to simultaneously suck up every bit of compromising corporate funding they can sniff out, tangle with bumptious, grandstanding Congressmen in annual government funding disputes, AND bother their viewers with grating, guilt-trippy calls for alms several times a year. The PBS NewsHour is brought to you by Tote Bag Nation, some passive-aggressive assholes in Congress, and BNSF: The Little Engine That Could Get Out of the Southwest Chief’s Way But Totally Won’t.

Then we’ve got the cool stories about blackmail, the famous Piss-Trump kompromat. Yeah, nothing reminiscent of the Hastert thing there, or possibly similar to Roy Moore’s political relationship to Alabama’s business elite. The same assholes who got blindsided, or so they say, by J. Denny Dundiddly and Gadsden Lovin’ are sure that the most unabashedly louche president anyone can remember is vulnerable to Kremlin blackmail because he was videotaped getting off while a couple of hookers peed on a hotel bed.

A couple of questions come to mind here. First, who the fuck is Christopher Steele? He sounds like the pen name of a third-rate potboiler spy novelist with a first-rate drinking problem. Does he exist? Did the guy playing him ever work for the clandestine services? Is he a mercenary crisis actor, or is he a glory-whoring fabulist? Nobody has produced the fucking pee tape. Nobody has even produced a forgery purporting to show King Bigly and the Honeypot Rent Harem defiling the sacred one-time marriage bed of his predecessor. Plenty of people have fabricated ridiculous stories to position themselves under the glow of much lesser glories. Maybe the bastard is who he says he is and did what he says he did, but we can’t exactly believe him or anyone associated with him. His supposed employers, Her Majesty’s Spying Limeys, are some of the most incorrigible liars and dissemblers on earth. They’re a bit on the ridiculous side, but the idea that they’d keep some washed-up Oxbridge decoder ring wannabe with an unsubstantiated story about a video showing some whores wetting a bed on their international A Team is strictly for public consumption. One way or another, they’re punking us with this fool.

The Democrats used to lose elections honorably. Nobody really had great hopes for Mondale or Dukakis. Gore was reluctant to challenge the results of a blatantly corrupt election in Florida, by some accounts because he’d been advised that being a sore loser who brought the Brooks Brothers Rioters into the disrepute that they deserved was not the way to secure a feeding spot at the retirement trough. My man Long Face acted like, well, I tried, but shucks. He failed me and a whole lot of other hopeful Democratic voters, but he didn’t dishonor us.

2016 was the first time that the Democrats dredged up a ridiculous foreign scapegoat for their failures. It figures that they did this after trying and failing to force the pack to eat a sickening helping of their dog food on behalf of their raging bitch of a candidate. It figures that they did this after their scandal-plagued disaster of a queen failed to follow up her party coronation with campaign stops in the Midwestern swing states everyone with a lick of sense knew she needed to win, managing to lose the Electoral College in spite of a national popular vote lead in the millions. The Clintons have always had a loose relationship with the truth, but under Bill this relationship was cordial enough. Under Hillary it’s frostier than a February dawn in Vladivostok. He was the irresistibly charming Arkie son of a bitch; she is the repulsively charmless ice queen who’s bitter towards her husband for being a chronic adulterer, bitter towards Mocha Haole for beating her the first time around (“that man,” as Bill is said to refer to him), bitter towards Bernie for nearly beating her even though her operatives tipped the scales, and bitter towards the Donald for having the unexpected amateur’s horse sense to actually pull off a victory as a first-time candidate for public office.

If anyone would blame Kremlin mind control for a political loss, it would be this grotesque hag and her sycophants. The disreputable response is a function of a disreputable candidate and campaign. These losers lose sorely because they’re sore losers. Their form is too disordered to permit normal functioning.

It can’t be that they fucked up an already weak and shitty campaign; it must have been long-distance Russian brainwashing. The voters who got Trump over the top can’t have had rational or coherent reasons for voting for him and against Clinton; they must have been feebleminded enough to fall for a mind control campaign run by junior political operatives engaged in nothing worse than rude internet chatter. America was already great; there’s no way a sensible American could have thought otherwise, no way that a savvy political outsider could have tapped into the formerly unexpressed grievances of an aggrieved public by hammering on a catchy four-word campaign slogan. Russians must have convinced them that the United States had some kind of unresolved class problem, just as the damn pink Soviets were the only reason why anyone thought the midcentury United States had a race or civil rights problem.

Surely it was the Russians who fabricated the sexual assault allegations against George Takei to interfere with his meme warfare, not anyone who was still personally upset with George Takei for having sexually assaulted him. If that horseshit can be proof positive that the victor didn’t legitimately win the presidential election, surely it can be reasonable doubt for a sexual assault case in the court of public opinion.

Joe McCarthy sincerely regarded the Soviet Union as a menace to his country, not to his party or his career. That’s the difference between honest paranoia and the sorest losers ever endlessly grinding a political ax. These shitheads don’t care who or what they destroy as long as they either come out on top or, barring that, find a way to take cheap revenge on their proliferating enemies.

Fuck the Democratic Party. It has to either be reclaimed by decent people or allowed to convulse its way to its belated death. I can’t stand popcorn, but if I can’t vote it back from its current eighth circle of hell land of make-believe, I’ll be glad to grab a cup of coffee and maybe some hash browns and pull up a chair.

The Further Adventures of the Dick Strict Attorney

When the sex pest allegations against Roy Moore really started sounding credible, I expected him to scurry away like a little rat within a day or two. There were too many women going on the record with serious allegations indicating a pattern of serious sexual misconduct to write the scandal off as a dirty political trick. The things Moore was accused of having done to young women, in his capacity as a sitting county prosecutor, no less, went directly against his ostentatious public religious morality, which, as extreme or crazy as it could be, had looked sincere enough. National Republican leaders who normally would want nothing to do with a Democratic colleague from the Alabama delegation to the United States Senate lined up on short order to declare their scandal at what Moore was accused of having done, asked him to step aside if there was any truth to the allegations, and began working on plans for a write-in campaign. Beyond mere politics, the cultural environment looked newly inhospitable to someone in Moore’s position: a wave of powerful men, most of them famous, had just had their careers quickly and publicly go down in flames over mostly decades-old allegations of sexual harassment or assault.

It turns out that Moore is the one guy caught in this delayed-action Chris Hansen trap who’s arrogant enough to maintain his frame and go down swinging. Maybe this shouldn’t be too surprising after his notorious tenacity on the Alabama Supreme Court, but it surprised me. What he’s doing takes a truly special level of bravado. It takes a truly special combination of chutzpah, confidence, and acting skill. Moore looks a bit rattled from time to time, but most of the time he looks self-righteously angry at the same secular elites he’s been accusing of campaigning to destroy Alabama’s cherished Southern Christian culture for his entire career. Three or four times already I’ve heard some news bulletin about the Moore scandal and expected him to finally tear up and admit that he did some folks wrong, only to see that, no shit, the son of a bitch once again doubled the hell down.

It’s an amazing episode. I get plenty jaded and cynical about American politics as it has come to be practiced, I’m less and less easily shocked by extreme hypocrisy and sleaze, but the Moore thing is something else. The revelations (heh) that he got frisky with uncomfortable young women half his age are the least of it, even though I never expected Roy Moore, of all people, to get caught with his pants down. The really crazy part is the guy’s reaction. The fights that he picked with the federal judiciary over his beloved courthouse religion and then over same-sex marriage weren’t personal crises; he was acting fully in accordance with his own sworn principles. This new Lolita stuff is a personal crisis, but damned if he isn’t steaming full David Farragut straight into the firestorm all the same.

No white flag, he will go down with this ship. Dido has nothing on this fucker. *Leon Bridges, back on the bridge* Good. Stay on your own ship, boss.

At a strictly personal level, Moore’s confident defiance is more dignified than the shambolic stories of one Hollywood rat after another scurrying off to Cannes or Sedona or who the fuck knows where for “intensive” sex “counseling” (one out of three is a start), and in circumstances like these a man’s man like Roy Moore inevitably carries himself better than George “Russia Did It” Takei. No way around it, these are Darwinian limbic exercises, and Moore is just the reptile to hiss and fight his way out of a good hard bind.

But Moore is no more a private man than any of the past month’s other newly exposed sexual predators. As a general public matter, the way Moore has been reacting to the allegations is no less disgusting than the stances taken by any of his colleagues in perv, and for being so defiant and demagogic as a candidate for the United States Senate he is uniquely dangerous to his nation. A person who doesn’t follow pop culture or celebrity gossip might be completely disinterested in the existence of Kevin Spacey or Harvey Weinstein. Any American who follows our national politics will inevitably be confronted with the rude, gross truth that for God’s sake this handsy godbothering piece of shit in tighty whities may actually be elected to the United States Senate, to make law and policy for us all.

Roy Moore has cultivated, flourished in, and brought out the very worst of the hard right wing. He’s reinvigorated a bunch of deeply sick motherfuckers. He’s got all these people who talk a loud game about conservatism and law and order (specifically SVU, am I right) insisting that a sitting county prosecutor going around serially pestering the local high school girls for easy action was in fact nothing more than a Southern gentleman looking to go a-courtin’ to put an end to his thirty-something bachelorhood. He did eventually manage to take a young woman’s hand in marriage as a result of this ongoing effort, but that was practically a coincidence. Seriously dating women who were young enough to be his daughter wasn’t why he got banned from the fucking mall. Five-O wasn’t cultivating Paul Blart as a permanent informant because the DA had a mildly scandalous private romantic life. Moore was banned from the mall for repeatedly harassing strangers. That isn’t an acceptable thing to do under desexualized auspices to a legal adult. There are certain things that one just doesn’t do if one wants to remain welcome at the mall, like incorrigibly harassing other customers against their obvious wishes to be left alone.

It wasn’t just a weirdo being weird after hours, either. Moore implicitly threatened to perjure himself against at least one of his victims in his capacity as a court officer if she dared press charges against him. Who’re they gonna believe: the Deputy District Attorney or a child? The sexual liberty for me but not for thee guy selectively regarded high school girls as old enough to consent to his sexual advances but also too young to be believed in a court of law if they dared refuse their consent, i.e., too young for civil rights.

Why on earth shouldn’t we utter his name in the same breath as Daniel Holtzclaw’s? They used exactly the same playbook to prey upon and intimidate the vulnerable.

Then there was the rest of the Etowah County public safety and legal community, the cops, prosecutors, judges, social workers, clerks, and so forth who twiddled their thumbs for thirty years while a man they either suspected or outright knew to be a raging creep rose to the highest judicial office in their state. It was only after national news outlets based a thousand miles away did the legwork, as outsiders, to confirm allegations against Roy Moore that these good old boys and girls back home finally admitted that, yeah, we kinda knew the fella was a bit off.

Great timing, honkeys. They could have done all sorts of things to put an end to Moore’s perverted behavior around Gadsden or sabotage his career. What they actually did about him, as far as I’ve heard, was jack shit. Did some dirty cop with an aggrieved sense of right and wrong frame him for some penny-ante drug crime just to make him squirm and shrink away in disgrace? Of course not. Did anyone in power give him 48 hours to leave town or be exposed? Nope. Did anyone in a position of authority publicly blow the whistle on him? Hell no. Did anyone privately complain to the Alabama Bar Association about Moore’s moral turpitude and ask it to investigate his fitness for membership? Possibly; an ethical complaint, especially an unsubstantiated one, might not be publicly divulged; but unlikely. A security guard at the mall told a reporter that a Gadsden police officer wouldn’t tell him why he wanted to be called right away if Moore showed up again, just that he’d “take care of him.”

This wasn’t mere discretion. It was a systematic coverup of a powerful man’s misdeeds by a town full of chickenshit officials. They knew that what Moore was doing was wrong and scandalous; that’s why they kept mum. This shit was kept hush-hush for three to four decades–roughly my entire life–until the Washington Post and the New Yorker finally aired Gadsden’s dirty laundry because its most famous native son was on the verge of winning a Senate seat that might determine the balance of federal power.

If we’re to conclude anything about small-town values from this political history, it’s that they come straight out of hell and should be eradicated. The rural South has a reputation for being a hotbed of gossip, and yet when Roy Moore was imposing himself on unwilling young women under color of his authority as a prosecutor, the grapevine mysteriously went silent for two full generations, until the Yankee press showed up during a statewide election of national importance to rake the town muck.

This is fucking disgraceful, a far worse scandal than the DA being a local wannabe teenybopper sex pest. I realize that gossip can be a crude tool of spite, and I’ve personally benefited greatly from gossip items about me going cold because the second or third degrees of separation from the source couldn’t be bothered to give a shit. But Roy Moore wasn’t some common adulterer or drunk. He was abusing his office to facilitate and cover up serial sexual assault against underage girls. He was getting himself banned from the mall, and then sneaking back in when security wasn’t looking, as a thirty-something court officer in the same fucking county. It isn’t gossip to go to the State Attorney General’s office or the State Police and say, look, I don’t like doing this, but I’m really concerned that Mr. Moore is committing rape.

Scum-of-the-earth outlets like Chateau Heartiste celebrate Roy Moore for being a sexual predator because they’re the scum of the earth. It’s unfortunate but predictable that predatory authoritarian evil is a latent element of the human condition that sometimes asserts itself in ugly ways. The internet harbors everything under the sun, not all of it wholesome. What’s more troubling from an American political perspective is that we have entire states, in this case Alabama, acting as regional reservoirs of privileged depravity and wholesale dysfunctional behavior enabling it. The owners and managers of malls network with one another across county lines. One might expect the commercial real estate magnates in Gadsden to pass the word about Moore to their colleagues in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville, and so on. They have an obvious interest in not allowing a good old boy to harass teenage girls on their property.

Or so one would think. The Southern Country Club set has a reputation, poorly appreciated in the North, for being scandalized by seedy good old boy antics, but there’s a fair amount of overlap between the two groups. In rural areas especially they can form a single unified overclass. It’s conceivable that Moore wasn’t bad enough for business in a town like Gadsden to be worth challenging. It might have been different if his teen fancying had driven away interstate or international engineering talent from, say, Mobile or Huntsville. Mind you, I’m not arguing that the Country Club snots have any sort of moral compass or spine, just that they won’t countenance bullshit that threatens the bottom line (bathroom bill grandstanding driving convention business away from Charlotte and Raleigh, to take a prominent example), and that, depending on local group dynamics, they may get terminally fed up with good ol’ boy horseshit for what are basically aesthetic reasons and decide to clean house.

This is where Alabama’s economic backwardness comes into play. North Carolina and Georgia went through major economic transformations starting in the mid-twentieth century that involved huge influxes of newcomers, diluting their old-line white electorates. One fascinating explanation I’ve seen for Alabama getting stuck in ye olden Bull Connor times is that Atlanta got the big Southern hub airport, not Birmingham. That is, Delta Airlines was in a position to lift one Southern state out of the dark ages, and it chose Georgia. This is something of an oversimplification, but it makes sense. Not long before its merger into Delta, Northwest ineptly tried to set up a small hub at Memphis (Mississippi’s biggest airport, to be honest), where FedEx was already successfully operating a cargo superhub. American ran a half-assed hub at Raleigh-Durham for a decade or two, briefly along with a much shorter-lived hub at Nashville, before folding the lion’s share of its operations in the Mid-South into the Charlotte hub that it had taken over from US Airways. (AA continues to serve Florida Man surprisingly well out of Miami, but we’re focusing on the Upper 47 here.)

Southern partisans don’t much care to hear that sort of argument from a Damn Yankee. I’d defer to them if I could be convinced that I’ve been arguing out of prejudice or bad faith, but it’s disingenuous authoritarian shitbirds like Roy Moore and his defenders who are poisoning this well, and they’re poisoning it for our entire nation. I’m not here to denigrate the folkways of Appalachian coal miners or Cajun shrimpers. My paternal grandmother was born in rural Alabama, about a third of the way from Gadsden to Atlanta, as it turns out, and raised from the age of eight onwards in rural Northeast Kansas at a time when Topeka was still legally segregated. This was the side of the family that lost its load of watermelon to high water, not hell. I’ve known quite a few Southerners who have had reasonable objections to the way they’ve been smeared with a broad brush by prejudiced Northerners.

For a proud lifelong Yankee, then, I’m awfully protective of the good names of Southerners and the South. I find it disreputable and embarrassing for other Northerners to scapegoat an entire sector of our country based on their most ignorant prejudices in the interest of failing to examine their own racial and class bigotries.

Roy Moore doesn’t represent the decent South. He represents the indecent South. I’m a Yankee, but I can tell the fucking difference. That man lives to subjugate other Southerners: the black, the poor, the non-Christian, the non-evangelical. That’s blatantly obvious by now. He picked up a minor outside a fucking child custody hearing, for crying out loud, and now that he’s been exposed as a predator he’s got dipshits earnestly comparing him to Joseph, Stepfather of God.

How hard is it to imagine that the Alabamans who exploit this predatory privilege do so at the expense of other Alabamans? It was local girls that Roy Moore regarded as competent adults when he felt being his supremely gentlemanly underwear-clad self with them and incompetent children the moment they threatened to blow the whistle on his predatory behavior. The Alabama Constitution currently disenfranchises thirty percent of its black citizenry by barring ex-convicts from voting, but don’t think for a second that the local fuzz never locks up a cracker.

The Roy Moore dirty thirties scandal is showing once again that Alabama is an unreconstructed slave state. It’s run by a rogue’s gallery of slavers, holy roller nutjobs with closets full of sexual skeletons, and other equally dangerous thugs. A free citizenry has no obligation to tolerate anything of the sort in its own country, let alone to speak kindly of it.

Imagine some dipshit insisting that Diddlin’ Dennis is the epitome of Midwestern values, the Flower of the Heartland. That would be fucking ridiculous. Imagine assertions that Our Lord’s Servant Gerald is truly one of the great and sacrosanct Pennsylvanians. I don’t have to imagine such veneration of Our Lord Joseph, since I was around for it. It was vile, of course. I’d already heard plenty of bad things about Penn State in general from the inside, but the JoePa worship was a special evil. This is why I approved of the otherwise bumptious dipshit buddy of the Insurance Schmuck, the one who wrote into the alumni magazine with the blather about Nisbet and Durden being great Dickinsonians, when he heard “Sweet Caroline” playing on the loudspeakers at the Homecoming football game and told us, “They like to play this one at Penn State, in honor of Jerry and Joe.”

Turning to Roy Moore as a defender of local values in the face of his exposure as a serial sexual predator is disreputable and scandalous. That’s all there fucking is to it. Only a cult would vomit up a man of his rotten character as an indispensable paragon of Christian virtue. The Deep South would have been unable to maintain chattel slavery for centuries and Jim Crow for most of another century had it not been run as a totalitarian cult. One of the treasured cult leaders has gotten caught up in a particularly sordid and hypocritical sex scandal, but it’s axiomatic that he dindu nuffin, because crime, you see, that’s for the colored folk and the white trash, and so several decades’ worth of compulsory try-hard cultural conservatism evaporates overnight, replaced by an orgy of postmodernist nihilism.

The US Senate has its own closet full of skeletons, but this clusterfuck out of Alabama is serious enough that, should Roy Moore actually pull it out and win the election, the worthiest thing it could do would be to refuse to seat him. Send his ass back to Alabammy, back to the arms of his dear old mammy, etc. Moore has already fucked up badly enough that Republican kingmakers are scheming to kick their old boy the Third Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions (well now, WHY do I keep thinking of him in that fashion?) back down to his very recent spot in the Senate by drafting him as their endorsed write-in candidate next month. That smirking Keebler-looking piece of shit shouldn’t be anywhere near the federal government, but demoting him back to the August Body would be an improvement over the wretched scandal of allowing him to serve as the Attorney General, and sending Roy Moore back home like a dirtbag Roland Burris would be better than seating him.

This is why we’re singin’ Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth. Mercy, that again! I know that Southerners still admire FDR for rural electrification, not urban electrification, so I have no idea what got into me. The TVA never was battery-powered, so I have no idea why I keep seeing Roy Moore throwing the bench at little Jefferson’s elf house, either. Or why I keep thinking that Northside Juice and the Shady Blues are THE defense against the Asian carp getting into the Great Lakes.

Nah, I know exactly why: it’s because fishing, even if it’s really just Monty Robinson getting piss-ass drunk and falling out of the Jeep into the river, is such a relief from politics. In this case, it’s also a great opportunity to remind a downhome creep about options for intervention from the North, whose drunks have historically also included Ulysses S. Grant.

A fella cain’t hardly take it no moore

The Roy Moore thing just goes to show how disturbed the Republican Party has become. Nothing that I’ve heard or read about the GOP under Eisenhower, Nixon, or Ford remotely resembles this horseshit. Reagan triangulated his way to power with the help of some unsavory Christian theocratic elements, using them in a rather cynical and insincere fashion, it seems, but he didn’t cater to their sick, repressed impulses. Even George W. Bush, the vicious scion of a crime family, was a paragon of sexual virtue and coherence by comparison to the unfolding freak show that we’re forced to watch under Trump. All he had to do to look good in this regard was refrain from directly pandering to the creeps, and indeed, he appealed mainly to higher-minded elements of the Christian right wing.

The stuff that Chateau Heartiste is publishing about this mess is inevitably filthy. I don’t feel like inviting the trolls over here again by linking to it, but it’s instructive to look at this shortread that Roissy (or whatever the fuck mass of self-loathing Jewry is running the show now) published under an allied user’s comment on Gab, a sort of anti-Twitter, accusing Jonah Goldberg of being bitter and resentful because he, in contrast to Roy Moore, is married to an older woman:

So much sublimated bitterness and spite from prissy white knights who couldn’t pull the young tail Roy Moore pulled. The history of the world can be explained by the envy of the beta bitchboy mob and ugly feminists clawing and tearing at anything beautiful and true and natural.

That’s ugly but credible until we remember that what Roy Moore did to his jailbait wasn’t exactly pulling tail. He mostly just slobbered all over them while they squirmed uncomfortably and told him to keep his hands to himself. He stumbled shambolically into first or second base with a string of reluctant girls, some of whom couldn’t stand him. This doesn’t mean that the internet’s incel hordes can’t be induced to live vicariously through the pitiful, long-past exploits of this dipshit, or that they can’t be convinced that Donald Trump’s presumably undersexed marriage to his dimwitted, gold-digging Slovenian ice queen is the most enviable relationship on earth. That a thirty-something Roy Moore was more sexually active and satisfied than these losers wasn’t a great sociosexual accomplishment. As far as Jonah Goldberg is concerned here, I don’t know enough about Mrs. Moore to say whether I’d have any desire to fuck her, nor do I care to investigate, and I assume Goldberg is equally disinterested in this line of inquiry.

The same guys who abet this coveting of neighbors’ wives in one breath endlessly bemoan the secular liberal assault on traditional, conservative Christianity in the next. As an expression of Christian morality, this should feel devious and immoral, but for the most part it feels merely pathetic. Then again, I stopped taking this shit seriously years ago, around the time I started seeing prostitutes, and I have only a vague idea of the wretched cult followers I’ve left behind and just how disordered they are.

In general terms, the problem with coveting one’s neighbor’s spouse is that such covetousness tends to destabilize society. Manosphere demagogues discuss this destabilization from time to time, usually to express their assumption that the men they’re trying to reach are already living in extreme social chaos that they’re hopeless to navigate left to their own devices, hence the need for advice about the cultivation and use of crude sexual trickery to bed amoral bar sluts. For extra fun, this poison is routinely mixed with the most vile sorts of racial bigotry, even on sites that started off eschewing racebaiting, such as Return of Kings. The chronic griping about how hopelessly immoral Western society has become is punctuated with gushing assertions about how Donald Trump is the sine qua non panacea that will magically fix everything. It doesn’t take awfully much critical thinking to see how embarrassing it should be to fall for this facile shtick, but the creeps advancing it are obviously catering to timid, socially disoriented, cult-prone authoritarians.

Until recently, I assumed that garbage like Chateau Heartiste was a small, marginal part of the right wing. It alarmed me and looked capable of turning into the next Nazi Party, but I assumed that it had yet to start its integration into the Republican mainstream and its empowerment. Really, however, I wrote it off as a fringe clown show because I didn’t have the stomach to think seriously about how deeply closely related forms of psychosexual toxicity had infiltrated the Republican Party or how influential they had become. I wanted to believe that there was still a strong rump of active Republicans who were reasonable people of goodwill. Barring the goodwill that was obviously going AWOL, I wanted to believe that no matter how greedy and conniving the party faithful were, or how much lazier than they’d ever admit, they were at least sane and coherent.

They aren’t. The hardcore elements that have taken over the party are full of raving lunatics who want to rut with the crazy bitches they see on Fox News because they go on air wearing short skirts and low-cut tops. Oceans of ink have been spilled denouncing Fox News for degrading the reporter’s craft and standards, and rightly so, but it’s a hell of a thing to stop merely conceding in cold intellectual terms and start directly observing and contemplating. It’s a national psychosis. The prospect of entertainers reverting to forms of public sex work, in accordance with ancient traditions, isn’t scandalous to anyone familiar with cultural history. What’s dangerous here is that the women Fox News deploys have explicit pretensions of being reporters and political analysts. It’s a gigantic mindfuck. Sean Hannity is similarly dangerous in a highbrow masculine way: he’s the fraternity pledgemaster who somehow never went to prison for felony assault. (Bill O’Reilly brings nothing to the table but stewing ill humor.)

For years I looked away from this horror show because it was so dispiriting. I’m finding it harder to ignore now that it’s injecting outrageous derangement and fraud into a US Senate race in a state that has repeatedly been a political millstone around this nation’s neck. Alabama gave us more than its share of vicious slavers and Jim Crow thugs. It gave us Jeff Sessions, first as a Senator too scandalous to be confirmed into high federal office, then as one who lasted long enough as a regional curiosity to finally be confirmed as Attorney General by colleagues whose collective morals had gone to shit. Now it is giving us Roy Moore, not just as a longtime religious scold but as a repressed, hypocritical freak who used his office to chase high school girls around the courthouse square during his working hours and then pester them for sex come nightfall.

But it isn’t just Moore. Todd Akin, the legitimate rape guy, was vile, but he immediately turned himself into a pariah in his own party by running his foul mouth to vent his foul mind. Moore has proxies for his party’s sitting president praising him as a great sexual conquistador and good old boys down home comparing him to Joseph, of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Some asshole (I don’t care to look up who) went on the radio to assert that the marriage of Mary and Joseph was between a grown carpenter and a teen bride, and that turned out well, so we’d be wrong to judge Roy Moore for engaging in the Christian courtship of a Southern gentleman.

Good fucking grief, these guys are nothing but vipers. They’re turning their entire party into a snake pit that makes James Carville look mammalian. I’m familiar with conservative Christian courtship rituals, albeit as a quasi-outsider. What Roy Moore did with those teenage girls was not Christian courtship, and anyone who says it was is a lying sack of shit.

This is one of the stunning things about religious right apologetics. When activists trying to liberalize conservative Christian denominations deploy disingenuous talking points, they immediately sound untrustworthy, condescending, and ridiculous. When reactionary authoritarians deploy equally false talking points from the hard right, they have the brute confidence and aggression to sound like they’ll actually convince their followers of their arguments, which are consistently some of the most vile things on earth. They run scorched-earth campaigns against enemies who look uncomfortable taking up secondhand pocketknives as arms.

It’s conceivable enough that a thirty-something man and a teenage girl might enter into an affair worthwhile to both of them: a teacher and a student, say. It would probably become messy, but so do many relationships, and the morality of such an affair is separate from its strict legality or illegality. What Moore is accused of doing doesn’t even rise to the level of a proper episode of adultery. He’s handsome, charming, and apparently socially capable enough that it’s hard to see how the hell making a sex pest of himself to girls he hardly knew was the only way he could get some action when he was barely past thirty. That is, he doesn’t look like a guy who would have gotten desperately thirsty. His impositions on these young women, some of them very young, were fucking pathetic, but we’re being told that he was just channeling old St. Joseph. A good Southern Christian dominionist wouldn’t dare think to compare his fellow gentleman of faith to one of the many pertinent characters in the Holy Bible, which, as Mark Twain gloated, has some impressively dirty parts.

Rahab would be an improvement over any of these freaks. Getting everyone involved in this blooming onion of sexual repression and coercion, as a participant or a spectator, laid regularly couldn’t hurt. The Democratic Party establishment might conceivably have a principled stand to take against these seedy bastards, but they’re all too busy turning to Bill Clinton for celebrity inspiration, and that handsy old rapist actually does make Roy Moore look like a gentleman.

The high school girl I overheard telling her friends about how much dick she could have gotten that week but didn’t needs to run for city council the moment she attains majority, even if her platform is nothing more than Sequoia is a fucking bitch. We need sexually well-adjusted officials in public office, not a grab bag of resentniks and perverts. We need to recolonize the ecosystem against the next Gateside Downlow and, God forbid, J. Denny Dundiddly. They’re starting to rehabilitate Coach as a worthy political emeritus, you know. He’s out; put me in!

I have no idea whether Sequoia is actually a bitch. It’s not like she’s Roy Moore or the Third Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions.

Lolita on the Courthouse Steps

Sweet mussiful Lawd, O’Hara, I do reckon that our old boy Roy done goofed with his fancy for the young thangs.

Proud Damn Yankee that I am, I’m not one to insist that Roy Moore, courthouse jailbait enthusiast, is too disgraceful a scandal even for the Alabama electorate. I’ve hardly spent any time in Alabama, I can’t think of any Alabamans whom I know at all well, and I’m familiar with the state’s long and enduring history of truly hideous politics. For that matter, I’ve never been particularly bothered by statutory rape per se, due to all the nuances involved (younger vs. older teens, individual maturation, the particular power dynamics, if any, between the teen and the adult, etc.), and as sanctimonious and pushy as Roy Moore can be, I’ve come to find him very much less odious and frightening than Jeff Sessions. All the same, I’ll be surprised if the courthouse kissyface stories don’t significantly weaken Moore’s Senate campaign and not at all surprised if they put Doug Jones over the top.

Roy Moore didn’t stumble into some Chris Hansen honeypot sting. He was a county prosecutor who made moves on a fourteen-year-old girl immediately in front of the courthouse while her mother was inside on official business. This was a blatant abuse of power by a sitting court officer, a glaring failure of self-control and professionalism. A prosecutor who abuses his power in that fashion is a threat to the safety, welfare, and civil rights of adults, not just children. What Moore did is a red flag for rape under color of authority. That’s exactly the sort of predator who can be expected to coerce sex out of civilians by threatening to prosecute them if they resist or promising to drop or reduce charges if they comply. It’s the wellspring of Holtzclaw. We may yet learn that he abused his offices to coerce sex out of adult victims. The aura of statutory rape and ephebophilia is much more salacious, especially to a society as sexually deranged as America, than the rape of streetwalkers or drug suspects. Recall how many of Daniel Holtzclaw’s victims were reluctant to press charges and ended up being tracked down by sex crimes detectives after Jannie Ligons came forward.

Vicious power dynamics such as these are traditional in the Deep South, going straight back to white settlement. The ruling elite in the old cotton belt will gladly prey upon the local white trash if it can’t find a black victim pool, and sometimes it will go after both at once, but of course the most systematic repression has targeted blacks. Roy Moore is not reputed to be a racist, unlike the Third Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions, and the vibe I’ve gotten from him has always been straight-up Bible thumper, not slavedriving bigot. This alone, however, won’t put him in the good graces of black voters. What he did would have gotten a black man lynched. Even today, a black man ineptly trying to seduce white teenage girls would be lucky to get away with his life and his limbs. White voters may not care to think about this, but black voters will certainly notice the white privilege, which for Roy Moore was about as blatant as it gets, and few of them will admire him for taking advantage of his race in that gross fashion. A handful may find him somehow charming or badass, but there’s no way he won’t suffer a net loss of black votes for being exposed as a teen fancier. This is the stuff of burning black resentment, and for compelling and worthy reasons.

The horserace angle here does not look good at all for our horsey-horse boy Roy. He had a natural support base among a wide swath of conservative black evangelical Christians for his ostentatious public commemorations of the Ten Commandments. This is the same constituency that Bernie Sanders openly expected to lose to Hillary Clinton on account of its conservatism. A good old boy who has a reputation for being decent to African-Americans and fame for forcing religions back into the public sphere would normally go over pretty well with the black religious right, which is large and politically engaged enough to determine close elections in much of the South. Even many black evangelical voters who vote against Moore for other reasons are surely supportive of his official displays of piety.

There has already been a groundswell of black political activism and voting in other parts of the South this year, most famously in Virginia but also in Jackson, Mississippi. Moore is running against a former prosecutor who sent Klansmen to jail for racial violence, and now he’s been accused of getting off Scot-free for decades for sexual liberties a sliver of which got Emmett Till murdered. His level of black support is going to plummet next month. Those who don’t merely resent or revile him for his white privilege in tighty whities will think about what he has been allowed to do to white girls and wonder with alarm what in the hell he has gotten away with doing to black girls and women. He may have been in a position to win twenty or thirty percent of the black vote prior to these accusations, although probably somewhat less; now, he’ll be lucky to clear five percent and likelier to win one or two.

Roll Tide Whitey must not be unanimously thrilled with his sexual background, either. White Alabama isn’t just temporarily embarrassed millionaires looking to keep the black man down. It also includes the members of integrated industrial unions and scions of generationally poor families who see Roy Moore as fighting against them in a class war that they always lose. It could have been their daughter that he molested, and they could have been the powerless, humiliated parents cowed by the district attorney’s office. This is a low-turnout constituency, but Doug Jones, an energetic, engaged, savvy campaigner, is likelier than most Democrats to give them a reason to vote.

Then there are the state’s educated transplants, concentrated in the aerospace and auto industries in places such as Huntsville, Birmingham, and Mobile. They’re a small constituency, but they lean Republican and turn out more reliably than the poor. Many of them will be fucking gobsmacked by Roy Moore’s combination of public Christian values grandstanding and private louche come-ons to teenage girls. They’ll look at him as exactly what is wrong with Alabama. They’re trying to build rockets and shit, and meanwhile their party’s candidate for the United States Senate is a ridiculous Gone With The Wind dandy and loudmouth religious scold who likes to pick up high school freshmen in front of the courthouse where he works and take them home to consort with them in their undies.

There’s no making this shit up. Big fucking deal if Lindsey Graham is a genteel closet case, since a bachelor like him doesn’t know the half of what a pain in the ass marriage can be, but this planter sex pest who’s trying to relitigate the Scopes monkey trial and martyr himself before the US Supreme Court in Jesus’ name when he isn’t out ineptly scheming to fuck high school girls who want nothing to do with him is a special kind of Southern freak show. Disgust with his ridiculous hypocrisy won’t completely obliterate Moore’s support among the educated upper middle class, but it’s sure to cause a drop in enthusiasm, and as Hillary Clinton showed, a candidate is just as much of a loser for losing an election through undervoting as for being swamped by the opposition.

It’s hard to say whether the Alabama Republican Party has ever coughed up someone so goddamned ridiculous. Sessions is a classic Dixie disgrace, but he keeps his mouth shut when it counts. Before the courthouse Lolita thing, Moore seemed competent, if vicious. Now he looks like a fucking buffoon, and the party faithful look like dupes for falling for him instead of sending one of the candidates who didn’t try to fool around with teenagers while yelling about cultural conservatism to the general election.

This is way crazier than Trump; Trump never pretended to keep it in his pants. Once again, we have Roy Orbison singing for the horny. Mercy.

Federal Weiner Trap

By the time we rolled into Reno the other morning, Anthony Weiner had rolled into FMC Deviants–I mean, Devens. How do I ever come by such notions? It couldn’t have anything to do with that mandatory Masshole now living in a facility whose population is 40% registered sex offenders.

They act like they’re gonna fix the sorry bastard by stashing him there. Good fucking luck. It would be possible, and indeed historically was exactly the case, to deal with the town perverts by integrating them into a society that naturally put some limits on their perversions. There would still be the occasional hardcore predator who needed to be segregated or killed for society’s protection, but a minor pest could be convinced easily enough to take his shambling act down to the red light district and refrain from darkening the schoolhouse door. The local children, meanwhile, to the extent that anyone even conceived of them as children, could be taught that anyone old enough to form a complete sentence who deliberately associates with such a ridiculous man is a blame fool, let alone someone who is old enough to bear children herself. There’s no guarantee that vigilantes wouldn’t have assassinated a man of Weiner’s character in ye olden days, or that there wouldn’t have been a bloody code straight out of hell at the ready to burn him at the stake for adultery, but there would not have been the bizarre half-punitive, half-quasi-therapeutic prison hospital apparatus that Weiner must endure today, at such great expense to the federal treasury and everyone who funds it. The guy wouldn’t have ended up chargeable to the state for a term of years just for being notoriously dissolute in a bad part of town.

The internet, as chronically enjoyed by Dick Pic Tony, is an exceptionally bad part of town. Parents in decades and centuries past worried about their teenagers going downtown to gawk at the rent boys and the tranny hookers. Parents in the new millennium worry about their teenagers texting out their nude self-portraits and being prosecuted for child pornography. A feeling of outrage and scandal at the discovery that the sexually mature have normal sexual anatomy and function is for busybody idiots, but that never stopped a grandstanding district attorney, or the federal prosecutorial apparatus, for that matter.

Hence the Weiner Trap. Carolina Jailbait was hanging out on virtual skid row, and don’tcha fucking know, she saw some gross shit. Or so we’re told. We’re admonished that she was a mere child, and yet she was old enough to be a successful honeypot for a former US Congressman, apparently without direct, explicit handlers. I don’t suppose that I’d enjoy the unexpected delivery of a picture of Anthony Weiner’s junk, but I’m a straight guy, and I have no basis to know that Carolina Jailbait was or was not so much as grossed out by the sight of Weiner’s wiener. We do know, as a matter of public record, that his precious victim shopped her story around to every seedy two-bit tabloid that showed a flicker of interest. A credible victim with a credible claim of harm would have been likelier to immediately go to the police, or at least to a teacher or guidance counselor, than to repeatedly masturbate by video hookup for a dirty old man and then, upon the sorry fellow’s exposure as an even edgier sex pest than before, go full Daily Mail Story Whore.

And so now they want to fix the bastard by locking him up on a yard full of Jerry Sandusky replicants. For all we know, and God help us, he may be in the midst of baby rapists. A normal, healthy society would never end up with a neighborhood of 40% confirmed sexual deviants. FMC Devens is basically rural Antioch with bars. Antioch, we should keep in mind, was where that creep and his sad sack wife were able to keep Jaycee Dugard for a couple of decades. All the bad shit floats inland in California; feel free to consider Reno a part of my fair state. On the outside, integrated into the general population, Weiner at least had some alternative sexual and social stimuli acting as negative feedbacks, albeit weak ones, on his weirder impulses.

What he has now are certifiable pervs by the full yard and “mental health” and “sex addiction” counselors who are willing to work around hundreds of men like him and worse. The psych staff at that facility are super questionable. They’ve chosen to take up their line of work instead of any of the other options, including the night shift at 7-Eleven and shaking a cup full of loose change in front of the T station. Go ahead and tell me that this staff in no way resembles the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston circa 1970-2005, either in composition or in function. Underground sexual minorities naturally form underground communication networks, and pedophilia is pretty deep underground.

My mission here, of course, is to get Charlie off. CHAHLEE! Decent people have suffered grievously from the suppression of homosexuality and prostitution. Those who suffer from the suppression of pedophilia, pedophiles, are a noticeably more indecent lot. There are compelling arguments in favor of forcing the likes of Our Lord’s Servant Gerald to scurry around like sewer rats. With luck, they’ll do less harm that way and be easier to catch.

Putting hundred of them in the same institution under the guidance of staff who choose to work full-time with remanded perverts does not drive the perverts or their perversion underground. If the honor-among-thugs boys wanted to beat the pervs into submission as a public service, as they sometimes do at other institutions, FMC Deviants would have too many of them for a medically healthy population to cow, let alone a grab bag of amputees, diabetics, diabetic amputees, congestive heart failure cases, and other medical unfortunates. What are they gonna do? Have Raj Rajaratnam sit on a creep? Not a hell of a lot of clean paper floating around that joint, big guy.

Anthony Weiner has a weird-ass fetish that would have been utterly impossible a century ago. It might have been barely feasible by fax, a Depression-era technology; any earlier and Weiner would have been a loser sitting around in his bachelor pad surrounded by piles of dirty magazines. Prostitution sounds healthier every sentence. Seriously, the guy’s e-flashing might abate itself if he were just boning hos every night. I’m not into neuroscience (STEM!) or philosophy enough to say for sure that it’s possible to rewire the mind of such a freak, but it would be worth a try. Instead, he’s been sentenced to a sausage fest that will be leavened only by some of the guards, psychologists, social workers, and whatever the fuck else the BOP has the budget to hire in a futile effort to reprogram dirty old men as obedient eunuchs. From that perspective, the saving grace would be the lady guards and shrinks sexing the inmates. Everything else that they’d think to do to the guys would be worse, for everyone, both inside the prison and out. Momma’s got a squeezebox, etc.

Look at it this way: every minute that Anthony Weiner is boning a guard is a minute that he isn’t thinking wistfully with all his mind and all his soul about distracting a tenth-grader from her pre-calc homework and/or Instagram account. Sure, it’s against the rules, but a gigantic shitload of practices that might make our hellscape of a country more livable are against the rules. Paying a squad of slutty guards to take cock all watch would be a waste of taxpayer money, but so is paying shrinks to talk Dick Pic Tony into no longer enjoying electronic junk shots. If we weren’t looking to waste taxpayer money, maybe we’d shut down most of the federal prison system. Maybe we’d empty and close the Gulag Archipelago. Kolyma or Coleman, that’s exactly what it is.

We’ve got a few truly hard cases in Florence Admax who actually need to be in prison: Shoes Go Boom, Mr. Explodeypants, the ex-guard from FCI Danbury who got jealous over his jailbird lover and went around paying for hits on romantic rivals. This doesn’t explain what the hell anyone is gaining from Rod Blagojevich’s twelve-year membership in the Rocky Mountain Club. The correctional unions don’t count; their members are free to seek other lines of work, and it’s political intransigence and malice, not fiscal incapacity, that keeps us from expanding public assistance to a scope that would easily absorb every laid-off prison employee. Our state and federal governments have had overwhelming success in their efforts to order civilians not to be Ariel Castro for a living. There are no technical obstacles to their holding prison staff to the same standards of basic human decency. The problems we face here are political.

My Id found it disappointing not to watch Dick Pic Tony enter his assigned sausage shop. The Rod Unspared looked about as comfortable as anyone in his circumstances could have hoped to feel going through the narrow gate into his new home on the range. J. Denny Dundiddly’s grand entrance wasn’t as much fun, but it was fun enough to feature his bumping his wheelchair into a fucking curb. It would have been fun to watch the Weiner slip into his new hole (giggity), but they’re keeping him at the back end of a private access road or some shit.

This is mainly a prurient interest, but it isn’t exclusively. We deserve to be faced with what we, as a society, do to our convicts, and a small part of me hopes that we might actually learn that what we’re doing to them is evil. For every hardened criminal like Larry Silverstein that we’re trying to segregate for our own safety, we have hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners who are frankly harmless. The fact that so many of them are allowed to surrender peacefully is a sign that we have no business locking them up.

Certainly not for years at a time. There are predatory criminals who would be reformed by a few weeks or months in prison, but the way we operate our judicial systems is deep into the diminishing returns. Who exactly will think twice about running a Ponzi scheme just because Bernie Madoff won his lifetime membership in the Butner Jewish Gentlemen’s Kaffeeklatsch? Hell, the only reliable way to go to prison for monkey business at Wells Fargo is to rob a branch. Bernie Madoff with the money of a bunch of other Jews. He ran a classic affinity fraud. There’s no jailing a society’s way out of affinity.

At some point, we really have to just suck it up and tell damned fools to stop being so fucking gullible. At some point we have to just tell teenagers that they’re likely to come across some gross shit online, and encourage them not to live their entire lives online. Nobody’s clawing the Madoff money back; excluding what little has already been clawed back, it’s all been spent. We might make the crook do some honest labor now and then as a very partial restitution to society; instead, we’re paying him to sit around drinking coffee and chatting with Jonathan Pollard in a rec room that is at once quite shabby and obscenely expensive.

We gain nothing by punishing con men for ripping off the affluent (and the downright wealthy) of some less than catastrophic portion of their personal wealth. There is a fairly spacious middle ground between actual impunity and a hundred-year bid at Coleman, but we’re too vicious and pigheaded to imagine it. We’re too dense to imagine a regime that deters financial crime without sending an occasional scapegoat to prison for life, or to imagine one that keeps vulnerable people from losing their life’s savings while also encouraging affluent fools on the warpath for that wicked alpha to check out some FDIC-insured products, dawg.

By the way, Club Fed does not actually exist. It’s a fabrication propagated by a sophomorically clever writer and some lazy editors. The United States has luxury prisons in the same way that the Shits-Carlton is a chain of hotels. Andrew Chan had tennis court privileges at Kerobokan, too. I hear he’s doing great now that he’s back home in Australia.

Perspective

Facebook is a fascinating source of ethnographic material. As an objective survey, it’s useless, but as a window into what our society strives to be, as filtered through whatever fresh hell Mark Zuckerberg and the intelligence services have in mind for us, it is, in the sense of the reputed ancient Chinese curse, interesting. It’s a treasury of our communal values, maybe not values that we’d wish to contemplate ourselves holding, and probably to some barely fathomable extent really just those of Zuck as seconded by the most obnoxious elements of the herd, but in that way it’s a diversified online version of America’s hellish mass broadcasting.

We might, God help us, watch Dr. Phil for a glimpse of the mass mind, say, because our tires need a rotation and that’s what’s on at Les Schwab, or, God grant us an airsickness bag so capacious, Ellen. We might listen to #BigBandStyle MILF magnet John Tesh’s laughable but engagingly sonorous ideas of intelligence (they don’t always raise them right on the Guyland, but they raise them fun), or, readying the barf bag anew, put up with whatever excruciatingly maudlin tale of emotionally projectile romantic dysfunction and paired Top 40 Easy Listening horror Delilah is spewing forth to bridge the gap between evening drivetime and Coast to Coast. (Come to think of it, the aliens are more mature and coherent than that, and so are those phoning in with their observations.)

These are terrible options, but the terrible so often intersects with the popular. Of course, there’s always the question of why exactly this shit is popular. K-Love could air Christian music by the Taylor Grocery Band, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, or even Mr. Mister, if I’m interpreting it right. What it actually broadcasts is grating, smug, endlessly preachy horseshit, offenses to art and failures of theology which it is the audience’s solemn duty to listen to exclusively for its own edification. Communist authorities have traditionally taken a similar stance, sometimes with better music. Fuck, I’m waxing all Vaclav Havel now, czech it out. But it’s true. That shit sucks ass, and on the secular side it can be even worse. (NB: Not necessarily worse than the pro-life music that I stumbled upon in Redding, back before I memorized the local NPR and classic rock frequencies.) Secular pop helpfully advises me that I, as a recurrently homeless person who sometimes wakes up disoriented at rest areas and has a sporadic, modestly desultory social life, am like The Bird. #TeshTips, bitch. IFY fuckin L.

Summon him posthaste; I need him to put me out of my misery with his song.

For all else that’s wrong with Facebook, it’s a more novel, varied, and interesting expression of the mass man than any of that. Your mileage may vary, but I’m relieved and encouraged to be in touch with friends, mentors, acquaintances, Romans, citizens, and whatever who aren’t exclusively a rabble of brainwashed gibbering retards. Mind you, I’ve got people in my feed who regurgitate PR copy and post Rich Kids of Instagram shit like they just borrowed Phineas Gage’s tamping iron, but there’s a reasonable breadth to their retardation, and besides, I’ve got others in my feed who comport themselves like respectable adults.

There’s notoriously a whole lot of bias affecting what shows up where in Facebook feeds, and what doesn’t show up at all, and there are too many variables at play to come up with a comprehensive, statistically significant assessment of jack shit. I took a semester of 100-level statistics for my math distribution requirement in college because high school pre-calc had been very le hard, but I know more than some econ majors know about median household incomes in their hometowns and counties, and more about the existence of Hamid Karzai and Pervez Musharraf than some international studies majors. If you or your kids or whoever goes to a fancy college, y’all, too, can be graced with regular high life updates from dozens of preppy douchebags.

Don’t.

So far we have sampling biases, in my case due to the domination of my feed by douchecanoes from *MY OLD SCHOOL*. We haven’t discussed the undisclosed in-house filtering of what Facebook shows us on our feeds and in what order. In pop-psych terms this is called gaslighting. In legal and ethical terms, it’s called pyschological experiementation on nonconsenting test subjects commissioned by the military and intelligence services and undertaken without prior disclosure or institutional review. If I had to bet either that this manipulation provoked suicides on the part of Facebook users or that it did not, I’d bet on suicide. In a properly functioning republic, this situation would have the experimenters and everyone complicit with them shitting bricks; they’d all be online looking up residency requirements in Costa Rica and Switzerland. In our current republic, as we have kept it, those involved are more like, lol, bitch, move to Yemen and we can use a remote-controlled plane with heat-seeking artillery to burn you alive in your apartment.

Then there’s all the self-censorship, brand management, and other disgraceful chickenshit behavior on the part of individual Facebook users. In my experience it’s the Big Dick crowd that goes all in with these impulsive emissions. Giggity. Them, plus a few stray social climbers I met through an MBA program that I audited a couple of times for shits and giggles. I’m a rare bird for publishing uninhibited (or, per the less charitable, disinhibited) rants that don’t sugarcoat every turd I see floating by. An old mentor recently told me that the pattern seems to be six or eight rants followed by days or weeks of silence. That sounds about right. Noted Humboldt County drowning enthusiast Sara Bareilles is right: it’s honesty and bravery and shit.

Hell if I’m not Vaclav Havel again. I don’t want to puff myself up like Jonn Paul II or Lech Walesa staring down a line of tanks on the waterfront or whatever the fuck, but it’s hard not to feel like John the Baptist or some shit for apparently being the only person writing candidly about bad circumstances in the face of an onslaught of scrupulously cultivated false fronts that are constantly being heaved into my feed by dozens of phony, dissembling moral derelicts. Go get ’em, Brando; there’ll be plenty of time for lunch afterwards. Facebook is such an array of funhouse mirrors that it’s hard not to feel like the only person there who isn’t running a fog machine.

My objections aren’t to those who are consistently circumspect online or too discouraged, humiliated, and overwhelmed to know where to start even if they want to reach out to the community for help; rather, they’re to those who blow sunshine up everyone’s ass in public even though I definitively know them to be dysfunctional hot messes, and to those who chide me for not getting with this program. As in programming, in the transitive sense of the term. Much as in any number of totalitarian regimes, the normies and those trying to pass for normal keep their mouths shut. (You think Solzhenitsyn was well-adjusted?) Gee, maybe we aren’t actually a free citizenry; maybe someone has quietly put us in chains.

The ones left speaking candidly, then, can be a pretty sorry bunch. As I’ve implied before, the Dunkin’ Doorman enjoys and exercises more freedom of speech than the Insurance Schmuck, but the Dunkin’ Doorman operates in meatspace. Dude’s old-school. Online, the candor and liberty comes from freaks like a guy I’ll call the Temple Clinger, a fat, slovenly, goofy-looking mid-functioning sperg who uses Facebook to white-knight high-maintenance sexy bitches with hamfisted compliments and post crazy racist uncle comments under socially fraught news stories. Scout’s Honor, his compliments have included a number of close variations on “in words of rapper psy sexy ladies whoop whoop compliment.” No joke, this dense fucker specifies that he’s complimenting women strange to him by appending “compliment” as a Japanese-style all-purpose suffix. It nicely complements his hikikomori-grade social skills compliment.

I’ve never actually met the dude, but I feel like I know him, and he may well feel the same way about me. #Compliment. I added him on Facebook for spergsploitative purposes after he freaked out several of the Insurance Schmuck’s future fiancee’s girlfriends by talking to them obsessively about girls and how he’d never had a girlfriend when he’d just met them. Never had I seen nor have I seen since a white boy who so badly needed to take his ass down to Cecil B. Moore and pay for some caramel lovin’. Nothing else had a chance of blowing off the Temple Clinger’s head of incel steam and piercing his shield of kooky racism.

The Temple Clinger is perverely encouraging just for providing a measuring stick by which I am obviously not THAT fucked up. That’s a start. Otherwise, I’m comparing myself to old friends whose kids I’m watching grow up online, even though I’ve never met them. Worse, I end up comparing myself to all the childless jet-setters. I try to keep these things in perspective, to remember the sheer privilege that these dipshits so blithely and smugly enjoy, and I’m probably better than most people in my circumstances of remaining mindful, but it’s still tricky. Overcoming the gaslight so that it’s now an annoyance instead of a cause of distress doesn’t turn off the damn flame. It still flickers in the corner. It still distracts.

I’ve still got the Insurance Schmuck’s ex-fiancee, who, judging from her feed, does yoga on the beach in San Diego for a living. She claims to work, or have worked, in what I assume is a nontechnical position at some company that does health technology bullshit, but she never seems to mention going to work. I still have the gay New Yorker who is no longer flying from Hong Kong to Sydney every week or two, in addition to trips to Kuala Lumpur, because he’s now living in Sydney. (He isn’t technically American, but his ties to his entirely unexpected old country were ancient history by the time I met him.) I still have the abrasive weirdo, also in some high finance shit, who flew from Brussels to Tokyo via Bangkok the other day and just yesterday posted pictures of brunch just below the cloud ceiling in a luxury hotel room in Nagoya. I still have the friend who travels on a more or less annual basis from the United States to Mexico, Morocco, AND Nepal, through funding mechanisms that I’ve never entirely scoped out but that I know to include enough of an inheritance from her grandmother to buy a house with land in Oregon.

I still have the Insurance Schmuck flying all over hell for conferences and posting horseshit from them, although since his mother set him up with a new girlfriend she’d met at a bar in Havre de Grace (his parents’ new lifestyle is going out and getting drunk as a skunk four or five nights a week), he’s for once not screwing God couldn’t predict whom from weekend to weekend, like that half-Dutch, half-Indonesian bimbo from Tuscon he banged in Denver, the one who didn’t know that Indonesia had been a Dutch colony. I had something close to a panic attack when I excused myself from traveling to Baltimore for #YachtLife during the Freddy Gray trials. It worried me that any of those guys thought it was a good idea to schedule a bachelor party for whitey opposite an imminent bonfire of the vanities in a city they barely knew. That’s what Fred Rogers called the Land of Make-Believe, except he actually knew that it wasn’t for real.

Back on the West Coast I’ve managed to stay in touch with a group somehow isn’t a bunch of stuck-up assholes about living coastside in the OC and owning sailboats, Cessnas, fractional shares of business jets, and the like. I met them through a chick I’d met when I was taking nursing prerequisites in Eureka. They’re old lifeguarding colleagues and buddies of hers. She’s an RN now, and I curate the internet’s sexy male nurse Lynn Majors memes. Don’t worry: that’s still less disgusting than nursing, and it can’t hold a candle to the horror show that is healthcare as we practice it in the United States. Amazingly, none of these people are how I have one degree of separation from Laird Hamilton. That’s my get-baked-and-get-abrasive frenemy Island Boy, who also knows a guy who knows Pierce Brosnan from the neighborhood because he hawks CD’s out of a cart in front of Foodland. The OC crowd is my connection to Dana Rohrabacher. He looks and sounds like less of an asshole than Nancy Pelosi, of Chuck and Nancy, who worked with another friend of mine on a North Bay social services advisory board, where she was uncaring, fake, and useless. If we must have bad leaders, we ought to at least have as our bad leaders hail-fellow-well-met beefcakes who know how to catch a sick wave.

That isn’t an exhaustive list of famous people I almost know. I’m all like dude I met these people on the trolley who know Kevin Faulconer because I omit my connections to the real power players in the interest of dox abatement and shooing away those who might give me shit for namedropping or get worked up about my activities in these pages. Those who are interested and attentive enough should be able to figure it out; it’s just that I’m not giving anyone any direct help, and for the love of all holiness be discreet about it. Levi Johnston, a gentleman, doesn’t kiss and tell, and neither should you. I’m probably not as discreet about my identity as I ought to be, but I’d still like any nosy fuckers among you to connect the dots in a spirit of discretion and reverent silence. Don’t go around bragging about how you boinked the governor’s daughter in her house, that kind of thing. The truth is out there, though, and the internet is majestic.

As Roger Bellin put it, love to engage in the new public sphere , , on line. I’ve got nurses who go to nightclubs and polo matches and shit in my feed, and meanwhile I’m chiming in with reposts of that crazy-ass white meat trooper from the Ferguson press conferences, lengthy denunciations of Hillary Clinton, and stories about how I don’t exactly have a place to live but have been riding around on hella different trains. It’s hard not to feel like a loser compared to some of these people, but I’ll be the one finishing the calendar year with Select Plus status in Amtrak Guest Rewards. #WINNING, bitch. Not that I can afford high rises or business class. When I get back to Reno I’ll be eating at Maverik again, and I’m not in that for the Gram. Hell, that isn’t nearly as bleak as things get out on the ground in flyover country. We can’t all be up in the front of the plane with the champagne and the lie-flat cubicle seats.

Truth be told, the way to keep this shit in perspective is to keep it in Perspectives with Lionel Osborne. Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? Lionel cares, and he doesn’t quip that it’s time for you to get a watch. Now, there’s a fellow who will give you the time of day. I hate to say it, but that whole gag was less deranged than the dipshits who pollute my Facebook feed from oh, the places you will go. Not me specifically, of course, and maybe not you, either. Do I sound like I’ll be flying business class to Tokyo when I offset the cost of coach rail fare from Schenectady to Chicago against the room I don’t need to book that night? Lol no, mofo. Enjoy the fucking journey.

It’s 4:51 in the AM. Everybody’s welcome and his son is dead.