The bear ate my homework

It should be axiomatic by now that the grand Russia conspiracy theory is a clumsy psyop against the American public, but this is the Democratic Party in the time of the Clintons, so should hasn’t got a thing to do with any of it. The Clintons have never been ones to accept responsibility for things that they can blame on someone else, and they’re getting worse with age. At the same time, they’re entrenching themselves as pillars of the political establishment, where before they were McDreamy the Lace Curtain Trailer Arkie and his rather frighteningly icy shrew of a perennially scorned wife. A hundred million dollars plus of baksheesh plus whatever hits the Clintons did or did not order on their political opponents can do that for a power couple, and we know that they’re capable of politically strategic homicide because Bill didn’t give their political opponent Ricky Ray Rector the opportunity to have dessert.

The Russia thing is pure Clintonworld agitprop. Shattered reports that the Clinton team settled on the Kremlin scapegoating campaign within 24 hours of the Queen’s loss to the Donald. The public bearbaiting certainly hit a fever pitch out of nowhere in a hurry after the election, and the Cathedral hasn’t piped down about it since. Mencius Moldbug is a bit eccentric and maybe goofy, but he seems spot on about the existence of an elaborate insiders’ conspiracy under the auspices of self-dealing institutions and the direction of a malign clerisy. This conspiratorial explanation makes a hell of a lot more sense than the coincidental alignment of a fiercely independent press with the entire Clinton agenda, kooky geopolitical grievances and all. Contra Moldbug, perhaps, this conspiracy may be less a megalomaniacal social engineering project than a function of the Clinton machine’s Ephesians 3:20 disbursements of cash, exposure, and collateral contracts to its legions of camp followers, allowing C. S. Lewis’s robber barons to rape us a bit more softly than his moral busybodies would, or perhaps to kill us not quite as softly as he did with his song. That was wrong, but so is Hillary Clinton being the successful fugeetive from justice and Danbury that Lauryn Hill was not.

You only thought this story was going to get better. Of course it didn’t; it’s still about Billary, and their Infernoesque concentric hell on earth of sycophants, mercenaries, and similar trash is still all about Russia. The Russia conspiracy theory isn’t even fun. The US government using secret bases around Roswell to house its very illegal aliens? That’s fun. Hitting Century Boulevard with the Inglewood mental health community for a conversation about planes that may not actually be on approach to LAX because, well, do we really know that, now? That’s definitely fun. The Russia thing? That’s just tiresome. It’s a constant, self-serious lecture about breaches of propriety from the lying mouths of people who actually have none themselves and are cravenly smearing an agreed-upon scapegoat as a distraction from their own monumental political incompetence. People who are actually crazy can be great entertainment, but the bearbaiters are really just lying sacks of shit who won’t stop bothering us with their endlessly repetitive, ever more mindnumbing lies.

Even if they start to believe their own bullshit, they still lack the polish of the properly crazy. They’re aren’t wandering around a light rail station yelling about dirty-ass motherfuckers who can’t wipe their own asses; they aren’t that novel, or that eloquent. Or so honest, but that much should go without saying. That’s a true story, regardless of whether homegirl is lucid enough to correctly identify the motherfuckers in question or the dates, times, places, or forms of their filth. Her other story, about niggas and prison, was also true, if mangled. I didn’t catch all the details of that one, except to ascertain that they were all over the place, but as the internet autists have taken to saying, there are many such cases.

The Russia stuff didn’t happen. Most of it is as nonfictional as Harry Potter. That’s another story that Democrats have come to enjoy far too enthusiastically, too, less as an opportunity for finite literary escapism than as a biography of what their own lives should be and would be if it weren’t for, oh, Donny Pisspotter and the Kremlin School of Wizardry. Russia didn’t hack US voting systems. Russia didn’t unleash targeted mind control operations against US citizens to compel them to vote for a man they otherwise would have abhorred. Russian agents and assets did cultivate business and political relationships with US counterparts, some of these relationships being unseemly, but so do the agents and assets of every other fucking country on the face of the earth that has more sovereign wherewithal than Somalia or Yemen. Not to put too fine a point on it, Russia dindu nuffin. Big Bear Man dindu nundat, comrade.

The omissions from the Russia conspiracy theory are damning. It’s nothing but shamelessly selective outrage. Michael Flynn may be something of a crook who wheels and deals with foreign unsavories, but there would be nothing unusual about that for a retired flag officer in the US armed forces, or a serving flag officer for that matter. Regardless of what else is objectionable about him, he didn’t set a precedent for dubious foreign entanglements on the part of the officer corps in the time of Fat Leonard. Where do these fuckers live? Mars? Shit, the entire US military is formally entangled with unsavory foreign governments, some of them blatantly hostile to the United States. We’ve got our national panties in a bunch over rumors and feverish inferences that a salty dog general was party to a handful of backchannel communications with Kremlin counterparts in the course of helping set up an administrative apparatus for a first-time president-elect from scratch, and meanwhile we give Saudi Arabia a pass for allowing no less than its midlevel officials to fund and orchestrate 9/11. This is because Saudi is our ally. That’s what allies do for each other: hire suicidal psychopaths to hijack one another’s commercial aircraft and fly them into office buildings on weekday mornings for maximum casualties. Duh. Note, too, that the smearing of Flynn as an international crook worthy of the Logan Act is coming from partisans of–who else?–the Clintons, lately of the Foundation and the Global Initiative, formerly of the Lincoln Bedroom. What crooked foreign government have those two not conspired to gladhand for bribes?

Hostile governments, by contrast, promptly cable the FBI when they have surveilled a US resident associating with known radicals back in the, back in the USSR and have reason to believe that he may be planning bad acts on US soil. The Tsarnaev clusterfuck sure makes the FSB look more concerned than the FBI about public safety in the United States. Put yourself in the shoes of a mythical FSB agent who wishes the United States and its residents harm. You just watched some shithead with a Green Card come back to Mother Russia and yuk it up with a bunch of beards whom you’ve had under surveillance for being involved in a religiously inspired conspiracy to commit secessionist political violence against your country. If you let the shithead go back to the United States unmolested, he’ll be in place to take out his rage on his adopted land and people. If you alert the US authorities, they may decide to yank his Green Card and send him back to Russia, his country of origin, where he’ll become your problem until he finds some other country to take him in. If he doesn’t find a third country to bother, this will turn him into a permanent liability for Russia.

Do you tell the Americans about the Conclave of the Caucasians? Of course not. You let the shithead take his Green Card back to the United States whenever he gets bored with his communion with his old crowd and revert to being a threat to the US’s public safety, not Russia’s. Unless you care about the safety of Americans, that is, and can’t abide the thought of knowingly allowing a religious thug to hatch plots in his birth country and then abuse his immigration privileges to threaten the life and limb of his neighbors in his adopted country. In that case, you alert the G-Men to the Caucus of the Caucasus and encourage them to keep an eye on the creep.

No, I’m not kidding. The FSB, the KGB’s direct successor, was a more credible protector of US public safety in this case than the FBI. The FSB is the agency that took Tamerlan Tsarnaev seriously and sounded the alarm. Of all the Muslims the FBI has surveilled, often without cause, and of all the Muslims its informants have baited and goaded into half-cocked terrorist plots (“Hey man, wanna do some jihad?”  “I dunno, I think I’d rather play some more GTA, but if you really want, yeah, I guess we can do some jihad.”), why the hell couldn’t it put a surveillance team on Tsarnaev, keep an eye on his contacts, tap his phones, and figure out that he was building a fucking bomb and planning to use it? How the fuck is this the one bomb plotter they managed to miss after they were specifically and directly warned about him by a foreign intelligence service? Even if they suspected that the FSB had gotten a false positive, they could have quietly kept an eye on him, just to see if anything was up. They could have checked with local police agencies around Boston to see if they had any intelligence on him. Dude had all the peaceable nature and ethnic goodwill of a young Mark Wahlberg, the Russians were rattled enough about him to reach out, and he’s the one bad motherfucker the combined forces of the FBI and the sworn Southie Irish could neither catch doing bomb stuff nor take down in a meathead’s honeypot? Ooh, I’m getting a raging clue! I think I’m gonna shoot clue goo all over Uncle Joe!

Ah, Maahky Maahk. The basteahd put a guy’s eye oot in a bah fight, but now he’s up theah on the silvah screen, playing a steyahff seahgeant.

Of course these assholes would rather turn the rumor mill against Russia than blame the FBI for getting three people killed and dozens of others liberated of their legs by dropping the ball on a thug the FSB had specifically told them to monitor. Look at how they’re suddenly rehabilitating Jim Comey, all because that oaf fired him and then ran his mouth again.

John Kerry didn’t act anything like this after he lost his own run for the presidency. I wasn’t gung-ho enough to knock on doors for more than a few minutes, but I was gung-ho enough to help man the Kerry-Edwards table at the fairgrounds in a two-thirds Republican county and field rhetorical questions from hostile ammosexuals. When Long Face lost, he was enough of a statesman and a class act to accept defeat graciously and honorably, without running around stirring up a moral panic against a foreign folk devil. There’s been nothing like 2016 (and now 2017, because we’re a wicked people deserving of our punishment, or else horribly unlucky) to bring into contrast just how classy that Masshole was, as a contender and then as a loser. He coulda been one, Brando. Okay, maybe he couldn’ta. He was a weak candidate and a terrible communicator going up against a deceptively skilled communicator who was backed by the mother of all political war machines, but he didn’t make an ass of himself when his Quixotic run flopped in the end.

The grievances about bad processes back then were credible, or at least plausible, mostly having to do with Republican electoral skulduggery, which had a blatant precedent in Florida in 2000. Hence my beloved bumper sticker with a solid blue map of Florida and the caption, “Electile Dysfunction.” I knew conservatives who quite enjoyed it, too. But that was under the leadership of a failed presidential candidate who had some fucking scruples and self-respect and respect for the electorate that had declined to elect him. It wasn’t a simpler time, but it was, at least in this narrow respect, a much less disgusting one.

What we’re hearing now amounts to omg MedvedKekKek1488 called me a cunt and posted some Pepe memes over on Reddit. We’re hearing shock and outrage that the Kremlin hired some internet trolls (which the Pentagon would never do) and bought some PR in US news outlets (which the Pentagon would never do). I couldn’t even get anyone to call me a faggot when I jumped into a raging flame war over Donald Trump on the KMTR Facebook page and noted that Kwesi Millington for President would have been an improvement over that thread (“As they say, he’s electrifying”), so I’m not sure how ubiquitous this Russian troll army was, especially relative to the total numbers of the creepy sockpuppets who keep getting caught using DoD IP addresses to threadjack alternative blogs with utterly retarded drivel.

The Russia thing presumes that voters en masse disregarded everything that they were able to personally observe about their own circumstances and the condition of their lives and everything that they could discern about the candidates for the presidency from countless sources, formal and informal alike, because they had been brainwashed by a almost amateurish Kremlin international mind control operation. The brainwashing aspect of this conspiracy theory is mostly projection; it takes a brainwasher to hallucinate a brainwasher, and the mainstream media constitute most of the ministry of information of Brain Washington. I’m with Sarah Palin on this much: it is in fact a lamestream media, although in the strict sense of the term, the mainstream media are PC Principal-juiced to the lame, dumb ass of TIMMMEHHH, and that’s why they’re dangerous. Objectively, the horseshit about Russia should be too lame to go anywhere, but it’s been propagated among the intelligentsia and wannabe intelligentsia with incredible success.

As someone who has watched otherwise engaged, critically thinking loved ones fall for this horseshit just because it bears the imprimatur of Serious News Organizations and act like I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid for not putting credence in it, I resent this propaganda campaign more deeply than I can describe. Everyone responsible for it should be ashamed to hell, but I know better than to think that that crowd is capable of healthy emotional feedback; it wouldn’t be able to turn its tricks at work if it were. Think “trick” more as in “Tricky Dick” and less as in “thicky trick.” To paraphrase no less than Peace at the Center himself, people have, uh, uh, uh, whores, but some have better classes of whores and don’t glorify it on public television and so forth and so on.

It stands to reason that the Harry Potter set would project credence before the most ridiculous alt-factual propaganda onto its opposition and accuse the latter’s voters of rolling in the deep in a political fantasia. People who cast themselves in their own meritocratic wizard fan fiction wouldn’t be ones to credit a television oaf’s downmarket voters with any rational reason for derailing the ambitions of their yuppie queen. Again, this is not a fun kind of crazy like smashed in his knees with a two-by-four, smashed in his knees with a sledge HAMMER! That’s fun–from a distance, at which God may not be watching us, but at which I most certainly am keeping an eye on the poor man’s Peter Gabriel, as one does who treasures his own kneecaps. You, too, could have a speed train, but not at Market East, cracka. The Harry Potter stuff is just a bunch of self-important assholes who are obsessed with overrated children’s literature because they have yet to mature to Tom Wolfe and show no signs of doing so in this lifetime. Meanwhile they’re pointing and sneering at factory workers, miners, truckers, and farmers, accusing them of being out-of-touch juvenile losers for holding down real jobs.

If the 2016 election had been decided on the conscious, explicit basis of how voters felt about a Democratic Party whose most catered-to constituencies form their politics and their aspirations around bumptious fantasy fiction (including their beloved alt-presidential Bartlett bullshit, too), Trump would have clobbered the bejeezus out of Clinton in a 400-vote electoral sweep that would have spared him the need to indulge in Kobach-compliant White Whines about how Democratic electoral fraud was the only reason he lost the national popular vote. It’s a testament to the graciousness, pragmatism, and openmindedness of the American electorate that anything close to a national plurality of voters was willing to vote for a ticket burdened by all the shitty cultural baggage of the credentialed high end of the Democratic Party. It ain’t me, lawd, it ain’t me that did any of that, but it was quite a few others.

Hillary is the unlucky convict who managed to get shot, gassed, electrocuted, and hanged for the same crime, except that she did it to herself. The same thing is true of the Democratic Party for slashing and burning a path to put that cackling shitbeast on the top of its ticket and then dredging up an unctuous, swish neoliberal obscurity (who conveniently evoked thoughts of sexual weirdness, even among staunch Democrats) to run for veep, on the bizarre electoral logic that he’d bring enough of a home field advantage to carry Virginia. As I think it over, I’m almost certain that Hillary would have won the general election if she had chosen Bernie Sanders as her running mate. As her lieutenant, Bernie would have brought a huge (yuge!) amount of energy and credibility to Hillary’s campaign, enough to easily flip the rust belt in her favor. As a recently ratfucked surrogate trying to reunite the Democratic Party against an opponent whose sworn platform dovetailed significantly with his own, he had no such credibility. Plenty of voters who still admired him didn’t believe what he was saying about the party and the candidates it was now running in the aftermath of his defeat.

The reason Hillary didn’t choose Bernie as her running mate is the same reason why her campaign and the DNC ratfucked him: they all despised and distrusted him and did not want him in a position of influence. Their revealed preference was blatant and a lot cruder than they probably thought it looked. They were sheepdogging us, and enough of us knew it and resented it to sink her campaign in the end.

For a party that swore it needed all the solidarity it could get from points to the left, the Democrats have expended an awful lot of energy smearing Stein voters for ratfucking them. As if we give a shit. Do I really sound like I care that Jill Stein’s other voters were a bunch of anti-vaxxers and healing crystals dipshits? No, that isn’t quite right. Do I sound like I care that butthurt Democrats believe Stein’s constituency to be crunchy energy-field morons who cause measles outbreaks in Pacific Palisades because of some nonsense that they read about iatrogenic autism in Goop? Of course not. I’m not that fucking petty. The rest of her constituency could have been a total freak show and I still would have been, yes, #WithHer. As it happens, I don’t believe these broad-brush smears any more than I believe  broad-brush smears of Trump voters as a bunch of knuckledragging, hopelessly nostalgic bigots. Besides, as proud as I am to have contributed to a 5.5% county-level vote for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, their national vote totals sucked. Sure, they were third-party dark horses, but even for an obscure third-party ticket they performed weakly.

There’s a strain of Democratic apologist that figures that, well, now, that’s a rather grandiose stance for a California voter to take towards a state-level race that Hillary Clinton didn’t have a chance of losing. Under this condescending gloss, it was acceptable for me to waste my ballot voting for a couple of hopeless fruitcakes because it was going to be canceled out by my mature fellow citizens, i.e., it didn’t make a difference. It did for getting the Green Party over 5% in Humboldt County, bitch, and as someone who likes the idea of a political movement that is on the left but not the fucking Democrats, I can stand by that vote. But what would I have done had I voted in a state that was up for grabs?

I probably would have voted for Trump.

Yes, you read that right. I can’t say so for sure, since I’d been seriously considering voting for California to MAGA, too, but it would have been a factor for me. “How can you POSSIBLY vote for that man?” rhetoric SHOULD backfire. Any candidate whose pitches boil down to a demand that all educated people show their cultural solidarity and intellectual self-respect by voting for her is morally bankrupt and politically weak. These are both things that a great many voters thought about Hillary in the first place, so the sheepdogging frenzy complemented quite nicely their fears of an overbearing, hostile clerisy taking over the Democratic Party against the wishes of its voters.

Republicans and independents had similar but starker reasons to be distrustful, insofar as they didn’t reluctantly regard Hillary as the closest thing to a Republican running in the general election. I have a Republican friend in suburban Philadelphia who voted for Clinton because he was horrified by Trump. Shortly after the convention, he told me, “My only hope at this point is that the Republican Party can rescind Trump’s nomination.” After the general election, he said, “I voted for Hillary and immediately felt bad afterwards.” I felt bad that this fellow, one of the most upstanding people I’ve ever known, couldn’t find anyone running for president to vote for who didn’t immediately fill him with a sense of regret and disquiet, but I can’t object to his discernment that he had to vote for what he considered the lesser of two evils, even a lesser evil whom he found appalling in her own right. Millions of American voters found themselves in a similar position last fall. Some find themselves there at every election. This friend of mine seems more willing to work within the two-party system than I am, or than many other voters are, for that matter, certainly including the tens of millions who are eligible but don’t turn out. Good God, Y’all/Absolutely Nothing is a popular third option, although not one that I can personally countenance supporting.

The friend I just described comes from exactly the constituency that Ed Rendell has said the Democratic Party can and should tap to balance out its losses in the rust belt. Think about that: a sleazy but frankly popular former mayor of Philadelphia and governor of Pennsylvania wants his party to assemble a new coalition from people who feel either no affiliation with his party or a traditional affiliation with its opposition and who feel like shit for having reluctantly voted for its headliner candidate. Can you see now how this party keeps losing elections?

I wonder whether Bernie Sanders isn’t just delineating the extent of the rot in order to have an irrefutable case ready when he finally sets up a third party, loosely resembling the early Republicans, as the new political home for the entire downmarket left and center. He’ll piss off a bunch of bougie Democrats if he turns out to have been on a surveying mission all along, but he’s already pissed them off; much of the hardcore Hillary wing is already apoplectic about what he’s done to their party (i.e., win back constituencies that FDR would have been horrified to accidentally alienate).

This is what Lambert Strether calls deploying the blame cannons. Clintonworld is itching to go full Bull Connor and the fire hose on a critical mass of its own base, which it also insists it needs to win over in order to take back Congress and a large minority of state governments. It’s message is basically, hell yes, we’re on your side, how can you possibly say otherwise, you miserable bastards. Whether the goal is really to win us back or punish us is hard to say, and beyond a certain point–say, the Bern Unit fielding Democratic candidates who aren’t greasy shitbirds–it becomes irrelevant. This is why Tom Perez is trying to ride Bernie’s coattails to something other than centrist welfare press obscurity. Shit. Shit. Shit. This is really impressive. The victorious faction is trying to draft up the hill behind the guy it just defeated. Wow Much pyrrhic Such bizarre None gracious Many hubristic Omg victor caldera Very confuse.

#TeshTips: Look up the second last part in full quotation marks. I was surprised to discover that there wasn’t just one of him. But at least I know when I’ve been watching too much television.

The Clinton team’s smears of swing voters are legendary by now, but they still bear recapitulation just to reiterate what an object lesson in political disaster the whole damn campaign was. There was the basket of deplorables fuckup, which was enough on its own to tip half a dozen states into the shitter. This comment was a gaffe in the truest sense, an indiscreet, politically incorrect confession of unspeakable personal feeling. Voters heard this and immediately knew that it was consistent with what they had feared about her ill will towards them. Clinton’s campaign, the sloppy, unfocused mess that it was, was unable to even start the damage repair that would have been necessary to recover from this scandal, and remember, at its head was a woman who valued repeat visits to Hamilton over first-time visits to Wisconsin.

It’s a major county in Ohio, too, you know. Or maybe you don’t. Clinton was famously touted as a policy wonk who had a masterful command of granular details about everything, for what good that did her in counties that she all but explicitly smeared as dens of reactionary hillbillies. This is another thing that’s alienating about all the wonks and avowedly educated poseurs who couldn’t imagine how Trump ever won the damn thing. They looked down on anyone whose gut feeling or anecdotal evidence said that Trump had a good chance of going the distance as an unqualified barstool bullshitter, in contrast to professionals like Nate Silver, who measure shit. Yeah, their own. The entire Democratic establishment amounts to grown children going, okay, is that a little poopy, or a big poopy, or maybe a medium-sized poopy, and meanwhile they somehow don’t notice that the baby hasn’t been fed or changed all day and the house is on fire. I fail to see what’s wrong with taking schadenfreude in the discovery that overeducated quants can be paid and celebrated for dissing observant, engaged private citizens as lunatics for arguing that the dark horse has a real chance and then, on election night, come away looking like idiots and sore losers. Baby, it’s three am, I must be ornery. That isn’t the only good feel I got on election night, but it is not one that I’m embarrassed to admit having indulged. Remember, that dork Silver still gets paid to look like an upstaged fool. Me, I ain’t never touched dem shine ricebowl; dat kine, it ain’t mine.

What’s worth looking at in a bit more detail is how badly Hillary misjudged the national mood with her yuppie feminist shtick. This turned out to be a monumental screwup. It wasn’t that the country was fundamentally unready for a female president. An environment of systemic misogyny wouldn’t have let Clinton anywhere close to the presidency, and the Clinton campaign made it impossible to isolate the variable of womanly leadership in general from the variables of I swear to God I hate that bitch and by the way that’s a crime family. A key Clinton strategy to was to conflate all of this and shame reluctant voters for not being ready to elect a woman to the presidency. The campaign explicitly ran on this theme with its famous #WithHer rhetoric, and it almost ran with the even more entitled “It’s Her Turn.” As I’ve said before, when that’s the kind of arrogant language that cooler heads have to veto, a campaign is fucked from the start. It’s like starting a golf game from a sand trap while hip-deep in a water hazard.

And it wasn’t just the arrogance or the entitlement. Hillary and her crew were mouthing off with this feminist shit in a time of enduring mass male unemployment, educational underachievement, incarceration, disenfranchisement, unhappy bachelorhood, involuntary celibacy, and general malaise. (Hey, Jimmeh.) If the campaign had actually paid attention to granular data, it would have understood the gist of this situation perfectly well and made an effort, as Bernie and Donald both did, to propose real solutions to the grievances of marginalized men. There wasn’t even any need to explicitly appeal to a sense of men’s welfare; speaking frankly and sincerely about the plight of marginalized working and unemployed people would have been enough.

Instead, Hillary lashed out at the alt-right, a movement that was oriented in large part towards explicit solutions for aggrieved men. This was part of a well-established pattern on the Clinton machine’s part of dealing with dissastisfied constituencies by telling them to quit their bitching, suck it up, and vote for Clinton. It successfully pissed off voters from across the political spectrum. Anyone familiar with the alt-right would have recognized that it was taking seriously some very serious objections that American (nay, Western) men had to the way they were being treated, men who had been left in the gutter by decades of hostile neoliberal policy. Instead of telling disadvantaged men and their loved ones what she was offering them, Hillary went up on stage with a script and bitched about Pepe. In other comments, she or her close surrogates complained to no end about BernieBros, basement dwellers, chicks who were on Bernie’s side only because they were trying to hook up with his misogynist bro followers, and other backwards reactionary elements that any good Maoist outfit would also denounce.

The really stupid thing about this strategy was the assumption that it would alienate only unemployed and menially employed white males. Cue endless carping about the white working class, if you can stomach more of it. This campaign could not fucking imagine that its smears of white working people would be taken personally by working people of other races or that its smears of marginalized, adrift men would be taken personally by those men’s loved ones or, for that matter, that its smears of entire American communities would be taken personally by anyone in a position to swing the election. Oh hai, Ohio.

Stunningly, Hillary and her campaign could not appreciate the optics of running a former first lady with a notorious lech of a husband as the human vanguard of careerist feminism. They couldn’t imagine that this would possibly look bad. In their world, you see, career women were respected, and Hillary was a career woman, not an obscure Ivy League lawyer and commodities inside trader who shrewdly married one of her country’s most preternaturally talented politicians. They were too myopic to appreciate the first two thirds of their candidate’s biography. They had a few million true believers in their orbit who believed this nonsense about Hillary being a model of womanly independence rather than a craven influence-peddler who had parlayed her cockhound husband’s juice into a carpetbag position in the US Senate. (*Very Tom Lehrer Voice* I’m from Massachusetts, and we feel a certain sense of superiority over the other states because Massachusetts is the only state with three senators.) Being unable or unwilling to recognize how sparse these true believers were nationally, they inevitably were also ignorant of how far out of the mainstream their politics were and of how widely despised they were as yuppie scum.

Here they were running a notorious feminazi harpy who had somehow been the one woman to stand by her man while her man stood fully erect for that woman, Miss Lewinsky. The calculating insincerity of it all shone through. Tens of millions of American women would have divorced his sleazy lying two-timing ass. Tens of millions more would have put up with it in some fashion because he was providing for the family or was a good lay or a fun companion but wouldn’t have done so for the purpose of setting themselves up in spousal political careers or cashing out for nine figures’ worth of FIRE sector and sovereign wealth fund baksheesh. Hillary wasn’t just involved in a possible marriage of convenience to a manslut; both she and her husband were tied up with every vile, murderous, explicitly misogynistic government with the money to pay them off. And here this bitch had the nerve to lecture every feminist and woke male ally in the country to vote for her for the sake of women’s empowerment, even though she had possibly the worst feminist praxis of any public figure in her country.

This was a flagrantly bogus campaign by a notoriously insincere and inflammatory politician infamous for despising her own fellow citizens but also ordering them to vote for her. The notion that Hillary Clinton is a crazy bitch didn’t come out of nowhere, and it is not an opinion of male privilege. Where the hell did any of these people get the idea that women never hate other women? Never mind; there are entire textbooks devoted to such bollocks, and their authors, unlike yours truly, get paid to write that shit. Chelsea Clinton is now among them, because mass-casualty crashes of the Staten Island Ferry never kill any of the New Yorkers who could use one. But really, Staten Island always was for the white (-ish; to wit, Snooki and the Situation) scapegoats that an urban overclass so cherishes when it’s too chickenshit to speak ill of losers in the South Bronx. #RaceTogether.

Did it piss off the men, too? Duh. In a sense, the Clinton campaign was a wholesale shit test which she narrowly failed. The Big Dog has too many other options at his disposal to keep passing the Big Bitch’s shit tests (probably one reason why he read embarrassingly treacly neoliberal drivel about “the conversation” of his marriage at the Democratic National Convention). He isn’t the only man who’s driven into the arms of whores by such behavior (many such cases!), but he has more money to accomplish this than most (few such cases!). He’s also the one who famously socialized the maintenance costs of That Woman through the White House internship program and the existing socioeconomic structures of the medical field in Los Angeles. (More #TeshTips: If you’re doing well in it, not just good, that ain’t what you call it, and the kinds of doctors you’ll take into your marriage bed with that kind of language aren’t generally the kinds who are worth having.) This is a fellow who has, uh, uh, uh, whores, and we all glorified on public television his heterosexuality. No, I’m no saying that Lewinsky was a hooker; she was way too crazy and had shit for boundaries. But hey, it was an expensive unconsummated relationship for the taxpaying American public but a free series of blowjobs (and some gross stuff, according to the Smoking Gun) for the leader of the free world and shit.

That said, not all shit tests are designed to be passed. Hillary has a reputation for cursing Secret Service agents into the curtains, and those guys aren’t wimps. As in Alaska, the women are men, too. It’s not like she’s just picking on some shlemazel pool. She hurls abuse, and reputedly vases, at her ultra-alpha husband, and once the outburst has died down, he rolls his eyes and rolls into the sack with whoever is tickling much more than just his fancy at the moment. She hurls much more inexplicable abuse, totally without justification, at the most dutiful hoteps and shanty Irish and Mormon soldiers of the law in the land, and they start the mental notes for their memoirs from behind the curtains; they might as well get some kind of deferred payout for their trouble, too. She smears entire demographic swathes of voters as losers and then turns around and demands their votes on the basis that she’s running against a vulgar nut who hates women, unable to imagine that a number of other women might find the oaf more fun and less creepy than they find her. As Madeleine Albright will aver, there’s a special place in hell for them, notwithstanding the possibility that hell can include a public sphere of recurrent Hillary Clinton, Your Fleek Abuela, complemented with occasional lectures from Your Rabbi, Madeleine Albright. Voters start to believe that their suspicions have been confirmed, namely, that Hillary Clinton is verily one crazy bitch.

Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for all of this.

Fyre Island: a schadenfreudetastic overseas overproduction of elites

Haven’t there been enough hot takes about the Fyre Festival clusterfuck already? Of course not.

The setting:

Great Exuma. (I’m sorry to hear that you have such a condition.)

The promise: 

Bitchin’ tunes performed beachside by some of today’s hippest musical acts before an audience of marriageable and eligible young people of a certain class in a certain decorously partial* state of undress, complemented by deluxe chartered transportation, real good eats, fine-ass crash pads, and opportunities for audiences with visiting gods from the extended Kardashian Pantheon.

*(The author did not mean to imply that any of this is not horseshit. I report; you decide. And many of you decide to read only Dubai Porta Potty, so there’s that.)

The reality: 

Conveniently absent entertainment acts/gods, soaking wet disaster relief tents, canceled charter flights, an unannounced lock-in in an airport terminal without air conditioning, and crappy cold sandwiches.

Plaintiffs’ complaint: 

Defendants conspired to communicate to create expectations of Instagrammable Fun Stuff fully in accordance with the Harris Standard.** Instead, they forced defendants to live like refugees on a vacation to the Bahamas, Madoff with their money, and fed them deficient forms of Sammich.

**As in Crystal.

Those three words, though. No, not the three that inspire soft rock emo acts to tendentious song because they cannot otherwise muster the courage to express their love to their love. Does that storytelling former horse friend have to be the Sheriff of the Bahamas now, too? Is it, as they always say, because he’s black? Maybe, if I were more culturally sensitive in these matters, or hadn’t done exceptionally no travel in Florida and the Caribbean for someone who spent his high school years as a junior member of the Pennsylvania haute bourgeoisie, I would understand that Grenada isn’t part of the Bahamas. Besides, si je me souviens correctement, Northside Juice was born in Montreal, which is as Canadian as repeatedly threatening to secede from the Confederation over pissant linguistic disputes. If that happened, what on earth would the Francosecesh do with one D. Russell Williams, formerly of Trenton, currently of Port-Cartier, and forever of his own interest in your daughter’s drawer full of drawers? Guess you’ll have to find someone else to maintenir le droit maintenant, mec.

That’s more than some of my prep school classmates remember from our French classes. It’s also more, I was told, more than some of them could remember of where they had changed planes on vacation the previous week.

Defendants’ response: 

“[I]t was NOT A SCAM!…. I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT….”

Dissenting victim impact statement: 

Yeah, it kinda sucked, but as a merely middle-class party crasher, I very much enjoyed watching the rich bitch about a bunch of petty shit. Verdict: #WINNING!

Governmental response: 

Significantly more diligence and competence from the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, an agency with a vague, general fiduciary responsibility to tourists visiting the Bahamas, than from the festival’s organizers, who had an explicit contractual responsibility to their guests to deliver on their promises barring unforeseeable acts of God, a responsibility that is enforceable in US and Bahamian courts.

Precedents in musical history: 

Jim Morrison inciting his audience to a punk-on-pork riot in Hot Summer Chicago, then retreating backstage and fleeing through a private back door (mmm, mmm, mmm, lookin’ out mah….); The Rolling Stones’ Saigon-style aerial evacuation from Altamont in the face of the Hell’s Angels; any shitty, overpriced nightclub with a half-assed HVAC system and no kitchen.

Aggravating factors: 

Kendall Jenner took undisclosed payments well into the six figures to promote the Fyre Festival, causing it to materialize out of thin air as a cultural phenomenon. This was a violation of FCC regulations requiring the disclosure of paid content on electronic media, and it was done under the auspices of a commercial festival that was mismanaged to the point of wholesale fraud. If she does federal time, even in pretrial detention, for this scam (which was NOT A SCAM!), we’ll know that there’s still, or again, something like the rule of law in the United States. Or maybe in the Bahamas. The Bahamian authorities can always file extradition papers against Kendall Jenner, Ja Rule, and their crew once they’ve filed indictments, and a chartered international Con Air flight might do these fuckers some good.

Then there’s the sandwich thing. Someone took the time to make and box shitty sandwiches by the hundreds in the midst of a logistical crisis affecting hundreds of visitors. Any wildfire food service contractor can have a decent hot chow line up and running within a matter of hours of touchdown on site. So could many amateur church disaster response operations. The Fyre Festival took place on a site adjacent to a Sandals Resort. If that joint didn’t have enough spare kitchen capacity and staff to do a hot catering job on short notice for a market-rate fee, I’m Paul Prudhomme.

Mitigating factors: 

I’ve taken the Reno bus system to gas stations and eaten better than that. Get your white ass into Maverik before eight in the evening and you can procure world-class sammich, too. Or after eight, depending on what the specific store has in stock. It’s open all night long.

The point is, these festivalgoers were idiots. We had some preppy douchebag from Raleigh carrying a generationally proliferating diversity of Roman numerals behind his surname and complaining about how he’d paid too much for some sandwiches, and meanwhile I’m over here, warm homeless, eating a hundred times better for eight dollars a meal, if I’m a glutton who gets the damn Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookie, too, at a convenience store chain that I can reach on a bus through skid row with a $3.75 prepaid day pass. What a fucking dumbass. Not me, of course; that WASP shithead from Raleigh.

I’ve been told that I’d love Burning Man, for that matter. What absolute nonsense. I might as well pick up some thugs and losers from the rescue mission, go roll around in the dirt somewhere out near Fernley all weekend, like a fucking animal, and then throw a wad of twenties into the Truckee River. Can it just be that I live too close to the edge these days to be taken with a stone-idiotic latter-day potlatch for White People? Burning Man is one of the stupidest goddamned things I’ve heard of in my life. Lately it’s had class divisions and resentments on account of luxury tents. Great: techdicks pulling Muammar Qaddafi shit and riling up a bunch of lesser assholes who still have the money to LARP that Sudan refugee camp lifestyle and then bitch about how down-to-earth and oppressed they are.

Why does the Air Force never test-bomb the parts of the desert that could use a good nuking? To Burn Man: It’s a Barbecue Book.

Of course there’s always a barely hidden sexual purpose to these festivals. They may not be breeding grounds, exactly, or courtship grounds in any proper sense, but they have an unmistakable matchmaking purpose. They unite people of reproductive age who are presumably sexually fit and compatible under the auspices of approved chaperone organizations that tacitly promise to keep out the riffraff and fuglies. The idea here is that if you get raped, it’ll be a proper Brock Turner rape, not the ineffectual ministrations of some hopeless dweeb, or if you’re a dude, you won’t be pawed by homely bitches with weak social skills all weekend. *Most Maggie Smith Voice* What is a “week-end?” No, come to think of it, it’s more about class than looks, and when it’s about looks, it’s about looks that reinforce the same poisonous class expectations as ever. The young men at these festivals would sooner be expected to marry some none-too-pretty debutante mean girl from a good family (sic, probably) in Laguna Niguel or Alpharetta than dilute the family fortune with the smoking hot, genuinely down-to-earth maid’s daughter from Boyle Heights or trysts with some working girl from the Pork-n-Beans. I don’t know much about Florida, but what I do maybe I shouldn’t. At least I know when I’ve changed planes in Miami.

These dumbass festivals just pretend to be countercultural and subversive. Hell, the Fyre Festival was hardly even countercultural, given how thoroughly celebrity bullshit has crowded out square middle-class values in the mass mind. Surely the potential upsides to currying favor with Ja Rule and the Kardashians is greater than the upside of extra shifts doing whatever the fuck it is that the scions of the Roman numeral set in Raleigh do for a purported living. Plus one would be hanging out with the kind of people who also have enough disposable income to fly overseas in the hope of chilling with Kendall Jenner. Write it off as a networking expense, brah.

I’m more subversive than that by taking the bus. I’m more subversive than that by chatting with bums at Starbucks. There isn’t any money to be hustled out of my listening to Psychotarp’s nonsense for half an hour straight or giving the RTC another $3.75, though. For that matter, I don’t think most of the hookers I’ve hired are being shaken down by organized crime to any bothersome extent, which I can’t say about the Fyre Festival’s attendees. Some of them (the hookers, not the idiots with the case of Exuma) I know for the next thing to a fact are not being shaken down, and I’m including among these an admitted junkie and a lady with a $300-a-month lease on a Mini Cooper. I can’t stop the small businesswomen I support from supporting expensive forms of big business. For that matter, I’m not the kind of grandiose prick who thinks he should.

It isn’t necessarily that hard to cut off the racketeers. All it takes is the wherewithal to find businesses that aren’t bloody obvious rackets and do business with them instead. Thing is, you don’t get the social proof that comes with the popular insiders’ rackets that way. It’s just you and some hooker, or you and some convenience store clerk and some Cheddarwurst. That may not be Germany’s Best Wurst, but I’ve had the latter, too, at the Heidelberg in Queensbury. Not that I know Cousin Gigolo and his landlady to be classy and/or solvent enough to put on the ritz and spend ten dollars apiece eating out. Uh, not that way. But at least he gets free rent out of the deal. Some of the other fuckwads above spent more on a single case of Great Exuma than Cousin Gigolo doesn’t spend on rent in two years.

The most appalling thing about the Fyre Festival is that these rich shitheads got taken over by other rich shitheads. The Dunkin’ Doorman may not deserve my coffee money, but he damn well deserves theirs.

Give a man a fish and he’ll maybe be glad you gave him a fish dinner instead of another lecture

This is one of the shadiest, most disgusting things I’ve seen recently. It’s almost bad enough to make me give derelict traveling kids walking-around money, and I never give the circuit-riding hippie swarm their daily bread. Some other chump is offering them that abundant portion; if they weren’t getting any, they wouldn’t be out on the town squares in suspiciously hip towns doing fuck-all all the live-long day.

The approach I just described is the adult one: homeskillet looks like a willfully useless deadbeat piece of shit, and one doesn’t fancy giving money to the undeserving poor, so one doesn’t hand him that dollar. That was easy, wasn’t it? All it takes is the discernment, independence of mind, and assertiveness that comes with not being a stone idiot or the world’s easiest pushover. It doesn’t require a fucking ad campaign to tell grown-ass adults how to spend their money. Shit, that sounded pretty anti-American, but it’s true. As I’ve been told the retarded are taught in their group homes, we’re adults, so we get to make our own decisions. Surely that applies to the majority of us who are not profoundly retarded, too.

What we really have here is people who are butthurt that other competent adults are choosing to give their own money to bums they’d herd into workhouses if they ruled the world, or maybe onto killing fields, just to burn off the dead wood. They’re sore in the ass because they don’t get to dictate the terms of other people’s charity in ways that force the poor (and, in the case of our traveling friends above, the allegedly poor) into the shadows, where they may meekly inherit absolutely none of the earth. The visible existence of the poor makes them uncomfortable, and the assertiveness of the poor as alms-beggars in decent neighborhoods offends their precious sense of the proper social order.

Handouts don’t help? Where the fuck did they get a dumbass idea like that, and why the hell is it a public service announcement with a printable don’t-feed-the-critters sign? Isn’t there some faint possibility that panhandlers pass the hat for that love offering because they could use some damn money? They want some help, and they often get some help; how does that not help? As Dmitry Orlov beautifully explained the sort of Americans who are too proud to take charity, what do these dummies find so objectionable about the free money: that it’s money, or that it’s free? Panhandlers have material needs that they’re looking to meet, and money allows them to meet some of these needs. Again, if you think they’re getting enough money from this line of work (sic, but not entirely), you don’t have to personally cough yours up. (I like to assume that I don’t write for shlemazels, but with all the referred traffic I keep getting on account of Dubai Porta Potty, I probably kid myself.)

There’s a PSA campaign about this because we live in an earthly hell of omnipresent fnords. I refer mainly to Americans here, but not exclusively. (God, the fucking English. What the hell is being done to them, or what are they doing to themselves? I hardly know which question to ask.) This fnordscape is lovingly constructed and maintained by our betters for our own betterment, but really for theirs. The “service” in these public announcements is part of the ongoing campaign to serve man. There’s a book about us, guys, a cookbook, of all things. If we aren’t the servants, we’re the ones being served. The Handouts Don’t Help website does not attribute itself to any individual or organization; there’s no disclosure of who is behind the campaign, so on our own we can only guess as to the motives, but we can assume that they aren’t good. Any halfway reputable individual or organization would take credit for its public campaigns, but here we have utterly anonymous communication by a presumably influential outfit (I first saw the sign posted to the window of a Starbucks) on a subject that is not sensitive enough to warrant anonymity (big money doesn’t like bums, and you shouldn’t, either). This is nothing like whistleblowing or private citizens blowing off steam about pain-in-the-ass associates on an anonymous gossip blog. It’s much more like the creepy Values (TM) billboards badgering the public to stop being so whiny and defeatist. We’re on point to ask why the hell a billionaire recluse is funding that shit and what the real point of it is, since there’s a kind of Arbeit Macht Frei quality to it.

How’s that, again? It’s part of the “nudge theory?” That was more than just a “nudge,” Coach Hastert.

The other thing that’s going on with these signs is that professional do-gooders in social services are upset by the feeling that they’re being cut out of the ecosystem of poverty. They want nothing more than to be the dominant parties in this ecosystem, so bums who don’t reach out for help as the submissive parties really kill their vibe. They don’t like feeling irrelevant and useless to society on account of their being given nothing to do; that feels too much like panhandling. One of the explicit goals of the Handouts Don’t Help campaign is to flush charity cases out of the shadows and into the formal social services system by denying them all informal assistance from other private citizens. The campaign asserts, rather unbelievably, that panhandling revenue keeps street people from seeking the services that they need. Aside from the obvious usefulness of cash to enable individuals to purchase needed goods and services from any willing vendor within their physical reach, the assertion that street people are distracted from reputable, competent social services organizations by the easy money ignores the very real possibility that these organizations are not in fact reputable or competent. The streets know things, and it’s well known on the streets that social services come at some pretty steep costs: you know, every form of refuge having its price, but Don Henley enjoying nicer forms than your sorry white ass ever will, that kind of thing. Panhandlers take a huge amount of shit from hostile passersby, and often from bad cops, but they also get quite a bit of companionship and material assistance from other passersby who treat them as social equals, and they don’t have to jump through hoops for that.

The lack of empathy necessary not to see that this arrangement has the potential to offer more human dignity and less humiliation than submission to formal social services is powerful, but social services are infested by ostentatious do-gooders who have too strong a sense of personal superiority to feel any such empathy. They’re in it for the right reasons, after all, so why wouldn’t some desperate bum recognize this and submit accordingly? Getting pho money from Willie Brown in the course of pointing out to him that Kaitlin is a trans-Jenner sounds like better eating and better company than being condescended to by godbothering scolds behind the Salvation Army chow line who call themselves Major. It’s still a degraded lifestyle, and one is still a charity case (for that matter, you’ll never guess who’s buried in Grant’s tomb), but at least it isn’t an unrelentingly invasive bureaucratic nightmare worthy of the DMV unfolding every night in a religious panopticon. Everything about chatting about Brutlin Jenner with Willie Brown is trashy, but at least it’s consistent with full citizenship and the rights and liberties thereto appertaining. You might even read about it afterwards in the San Francisco Chronicle, a newspaper by and for freemen (although you’d be better off reading C. W. Nevius instead, which might result in something closer to self-government than ad hoc bread and circuses). The Salvation Army? That ain’t freedom they’re offering you, kid. The Arabs have a word for what they’re really after in you: islam.

Let’s give street people some credit: they generally know when they’re around people who are out to prey on the vulnerable. They have to be street-smart to survive. Even the floridly psychotic among them tend to have a horse sense about who’s looking to do them harm and who’s looking to do them genuine good, a horse sense that only the most extreme, most acute, most violent psychosis can overwhelm. If your don’t think they’re mistreated in mental hospitals, I’ve got a room in Sonoma that you might like to sublet. Sure, there are a lot of people out on the streets who are in the grip of clinical paranoia that embellishes and distorts their observations into delusions having no readily identifiable bearing on reality, but many of these delusions contain a very real kernel of truth. It isn’t just a persecution complex if one is actually being persecuted, and the vulnerable (e.g., the homeless and the mentally ill) are irresistible targets for persecution. They have weaknesses that predators cannot miss.

Social services do a poor job of screening out predators, and slumlords that take social services vouchers for the indigent often actively recruit predators into their management. Similarly, Psychotarp was not off-base when he wrote that the Housing Authority had revoked Joe Dirtbag’s rental authority, just confused about the details: he was almost certainly referring to the code inspection that I had requested on account of Pot-o-Shit Friend and company. Psychotarp correctly noticed that things were amiss and untoward around the farm, and he’s absolutely fucking batshit, the craziest person I’ve ever known. The poor in general are exposed to bad conditions and mistreatment that the affluent would either buy their way out of or, in the rare situations where they couldn’t, sue into full abatement. The lifelong affluent have trouble believing some of these stories because they’re so outrageous and grotesque, but they’re true.

For many street people, staying on the streets means not being lectured and surveilled by grandiose, paranoid scolds who attach a mesh of strings to every bit of their charity they dole out and assume that everyone they serve (that word again) has a substance abuse problem. This is one of the flaws in social services that housing first programs cut out by not giving petty tyrants with authoritarian personalities opportunities to act as gatekeepers. The charity provided by many rescue missions, sober living houses, and the like isn’t nearly as charitable as a direct handout to a panhandler. Charity as leverage to force full behavioral compliance for the sake of moral regimentation is not charity; it’s bullying, and like all bullies, those offering it target the weakest, most vulnerable people they can find. Giving a bum money with no assurances of how he’ll spend it is true charity. Giving someone food and drink unconditionally is true charity. When I say “unconditionally,” of course, I mean that it doesn’t require attendance at a religious service, baroque intake procedures, or any other gatekeeping bullshit. Give a man a meal, and he’ll probably eat it, although if it’s repulsive, he might not. A decent charity cookout at the park will be received more gratefully than a shitty pile of canned slop in a mess hall after a three-hour intake wait. Denny’s will have better eating, too, and definitely better hours. Begrudging a bum his Crazy Spicy Skillet is, for lack of a better term, crazy salty. No, that’s Panda Express. If this is all about incentives, what the hell is wrong with incentives for people to do honest labor providing wholesome, tasty food at a clean restaurant open to the public instead of virtue-signaling how much they care about the poor by ritually feeding them crap with strings attached in a soup kitchen?

Sure, there are more efficient ways to feed the poor, at least in theory. Food banks work, but mainly for people who have kitchens at home, and as with soup kitchens, they tend to be huge time sinks. This totally isn’t a problem for anyone who isn’t personally poor, vulnerable, and forced to hurry up and wait for some do-gooder to actually do good. The armed forces pay their personnel to put up with this kind of shit; rescue missions don’t pay their clients, so maybe they shouldn’t put up with it. This is exactly why we have media of exchange, i.e., money: to avoid timewasting clusterfucks. If some assholes at the Oregon Country Fair want to barter an old VW bus for a barrel of pickles, that’s their business for throwing the pearls of their own affluence into the swine pit; being affluent, that probably isn’t their full pearl supply. Demanding that the poor live in a similar fashion as a way of showing their gratitude is evil.

It turns out that Handouts Don’t Help is a local campaign in Redding. That’s even more reason to be leery of it. Redding is the home of Bethel Church, a powerfully insane congregation that should never be given authority over charity distribution. As it happens, Bethel is all about handouts for its own operations, and its congregants are always begging for alms for frivolous travel expenses on mission trips, usually to nice neighborhoods in nice towns. This is a city whose dominant religious congregation, which is not the only one of its worldview, is exceptionally nutty and profligate. Any charitable contributions that get into the hands of an outfit like that might as well be used for a good asswiping and flushed. We’re talking about a city swarming with charismatic kooks with axes to grind who are constantly networking with wealthy benefactor (for money) and vulnerable pushovers (for narcissistic supply, which they self-charitably call ministry). Handouts Don’t Help offers absolutely no description of how it disburses the contributions that it collects, a red flag for any charity but an especially bright one for an umbrella organization operating in a city in the sway of extremely well connected religious nutcases with an appallingly superficial, emotionally unhinged sense of spirituality that includes “coffee with Jesus.” If I don’t know for a fact that charitable contributions solicited by a bum-shaming campaign are not going to any programs under the auspices of a church that was too extreme for the Assemblies of God and now encourages its spinsters to set a place at the table for the Lord, I’d give a decent loafaday bum a bit of Denny’s/bottle shop/whoring money instead, because at least that way there isn’t a chance for asshole middlemen to get in the way and divert it to total dipshits before it’s even been spent.

That’s the other glaring category error in Handouts Don’t Help: it assumes that anyone giving money to panhandlers does not give money to food banks, shelters, or any other organized charitable programs. This is fucking nuts. Individuals’ personal finances are finite, and compassion fatigue sets in at some point, but there’s nothing stopping someone from giving both direct alms and indirect support for the poor to charities. I’ve given money to my disabled vet sign-flying buddy from the rest stops for his migrations to Stand Downs in Washington State, and I’ve given money to food banks. How in hell are these donations mutually exclusive? The food bank that I’ve usually supported puts out coupons at the local grocery store that customers can rip off and hand to the cashier. It’s easy as shit if I’m not feeling miserly, and I’m confident that the money goes to a reputable organization that actually feeds the hungry, not to no telling who may be hanging out behind closed doors with a Chamber of Commerce front group that wants me to give money to formal charities as a way of chastising the poor.

I know, it’s our hard-earned money and shit, so do I work for a living? I took my ass into BottleDrop this morning, so I did last night. If I were a psychopath, I might not find this as enjoyable as making the indigent sing for their supper, but like any sensible bum, I welcome the money and the cash.

Go shorty, it’s your Earth Day; we’re gonna party, like it’s your Earth Day

Ali G. once got Christie Todd Whitman to recite this bit of poetry in her capacity as an EPA administrator, and coming from her under his tutelage it was indeed poetic. Ali G. was one of the few public figures not only to discern but also to successfully apply the truly proper ways to approach self-important members of the White community. Although Whitman was always fairly down-to-earth for a daughter of the New Jersey Hunt Country, her gracious submission to a shitty Anglo-Jamaican rap number and a spurious but actually pertinent question about the possibility that whale shit pollutes the ocean was a rare opportunity to demonstrate that she wasn’t just another high hat from the upcountry. As I’ve said about the LCDS community, the Hunt Country is full of people who would benefit greatly from a reminder that they, too, are of the flesh, and Ash Wednesday, even for those who fancy themselves devout Catholics, just doesn’t get the job done like bullshit about whale shit. Whitman handled the whale dookie question about as well as anyone would, with a succinct comment to the effect that even though whales take huge dumps, the ocean is really yuge. The biggest. Elegant.

I can’t count the number of self-important upper-crust types from back east (including a Southerner here and there) who would have responded to a question like that with Giuliani-at-the-Al-Smith-Dinner levels of petulance and ill humor. American customs outside the strongly Millington for Sheriff parts of the South don’t encourage the address of these shitheads as m’lord or m’lady, so maybe all they have left to cling to so bitterly is their prissy, gratuitous, self-aggrandizing sense of high manners. This is why Americans didn’t start addressing the adult Jeff Sessions as “boy” nearly soon enough, and why if we are indeed a society that believes in second chances, we should start right now. That should fit neatly into our national treasury of conversion stories: “I was near thirty-five when I was convicted in my heart that it was wrong to call a neotenous, bigoted creep with planter pretensions ‘colonel’ or even ‘sir,’ as a fellow might address a peaceable sharecropper when passing him on the street.” It doesn’t because, well, Millington, what’s your twenty? The Attorney General is throwing furniture again. Rundel, grab your net; this one’s gonna be slimy.

One local elite from back east (Appalachian/fringe Midwest rust belt, really) who didn’t have his head all the way up his own ass on the maintenance of the social order was a college buddy with an almost Churchillian eloquence and an exceptionally bad case of the family eccentricity. Some friends once took him out to a strip club for his birthday, where the chorus line serenaded him with the go shorty birthday song (I have reasons for not frequenting these establishments) and a stripper pointed at her crotch and told him, “This is where babies come from, bitch!” (I have additional reasons). As my buddy related the story, “‘Excuse me?’ And she repeated, ‘This is where babies come from, BITCH!’ Yes, so I had been told; thank you for confirming my suspicions.” This dude has lately taken to haplessly trying to wine and dine amateur girls of loosely his class at fancy dinner joints on the Main Line, using comingled personal and parental allowance funds. The fair ladies in question routinely cancel on him but he doesn’t have the heart to call the restaurants and cancel his dinner reservations, so he calls the Insurance Schmuck over for a mandate instead. Heh. I think I spelled that correctly after all. He’d do better to hire sex workers, but given his experience with strippers, I can’t entirely blame him for thinking that they’re just about as insane as his family and friends.

I slept in my car last night and haven’t changed my clothes yet. I say “my car” because this week is the first in something like eighteen that I’ve had a car of my own. Super Civic’s replacement is a 2010 Focus from one of the shabbier but more reputable car lots in Merced. It had 89,600 on the odometer when I bought it, it runs nicely and handles very nicely, and I’ve gotten it up to 42 mpg on the highway. I paid a bit over $8,400 in all after the DMV and its state entourage took their pound of flesh. Why the fuck am I talking about my car all of a sudden? That’s a fair question, but it’s more relevant than it may look at first glance. My old highbrow crowd back east wouldn’t be caught dead with title to a used Focus. I’m not sure I’ll be caught live with it, either, since I bought the car on something of an impulse and had the paperwork mailed to my old address in Rancho, meaning that I may have to threaten management with legal action to successfully take delivery of my own US Mail. I lives here; can I come in and get that stuff and immediately leave again? The latest bit of middle-class shiznit that I’m lusting after is a PO Box at Fort Sutter. If one is available, six months’ rent will probably cost less than dinner with or (presumably) without the latest flaky chick in some Second Empire-ass Addams Family mansion in Radnor or some shit.

This weekend, I’m driving from Merced to Crescent City to at least start cleaning out my second storage unit. I had no desire to drive half the length and width of California during a total closure of 101 at the Mendocino-Humboldt county line due to a massive landslide; 101 in Northern Humboldt and Del Norte and 299 over from Redding are undergoing their own emergency debris removals, too. It’s a pain in the ass, but qualifying for a rental car without a credit card is even worse. I’ve finally been approved for one with my parents as cosigners, but the physical card is still either in production or in the mail to their house. Just as a matter of environmental principle I don’t like putting ultra-high mileage on cars when I could take public transportation part or all of the way instead, but in this case the perfect (someone else directly using the skies as a tailpipe sewer instead) is the enemy of the good (finally clearing out the storage unit and no longer paying $44 a month, increasing in June to $50, to rent the damn thing).

A great many of the middle and upper classes in this country don’t make the least effort. Some of these pretend to care about the environment, even deeply and passionately so. I find it impossible to decide whether the greenwashing hypocrites or the climate change deniers are ultimately worse. There’s no objective truth to any of their stances. One side is captivated by its own ritual fealty to science and the purchase of a dizzying variety of Veblen goods featuring state-of-the-art energy-saving technologies. In its zeal to save the earth (sic), this side promotes outright frauds, notably including carbon offsets in which someone is allegedly hired out of the kampong to plant endemic seedlings on the ruins of an abandoned palm oil plantation, totally sucking up all the carbon dioxide emitted by one’s flights to Costa Rica, because everyone knows that Indonesian business concerns have never engaged in corrupt practices and can reliably be remote-audited from Falls Church. The other side indignantly denies over a century of reputable hard science (the actual science, not the Nye/Tyson metascience for mass audiences, which one fucking loves in the name of science that one hardly understands), calling it an elaborate conspiracy and hoax, because admitting that, yeah, burning millennia worth of sequestered carbon and releasing it into the atmosphere with no meaningful recapture process might destabilize climates in unpredictable ways, would get in the way of the full enjoyment of crew cab pickups and dirt bikes and shit. Yeah, that was unwieldy, but you can republish it with your own editing if it’s that important to you.

It’s hard to believe that either side believes its own talking points. If they’re serious, they have to be nuts. This says some extremely bad things about our national leadership, but it should come as no surprise. Of all the poster children the climate change activist movement could have promoted, why the fuck did it ever tolerate Al Gore? Uh, yeah, we all need to have fewer children and drive less, so here’s a guy who has four kids, flies all over hell every week lecturing grandees about climate change, and lives in a mansion the size of a small warehouse. The denialist side is represented by equally ridiculous shitheads who effectively argue that there’s no way they’d get sickened or killed if a Peterbilt’s exhaust pipe were hooked up to their home HVAC systems. Okay, then, I’m sure James Inhofe won’t object to my rolling a dumpster full of yard debris, cow pies, and spent batteries into his living room and setting it on fire with a liberal dose of lighter fluid. Oh, he’d object to the liberalism? Good to know.

The sanctimony from both sides is over the top. The denialists use kooky interpretations of some of the most dubious passages in the Bible to bolster their nonsense: it doesn’t matter because Jesus is coming back soon anyway (gaudeamus igitur for the Junior Anti-Sex League) (alternately, let’s have this man we revere clean up after us like we’re toddlers who just dumped Costco bulk scrambled eggs all over the carpet), the Book of Genesis is a math textbook, there was only ever one Flood, ad nauseam. The climate change promoters (construe as you wish) smugly quote passages from a Bible that a great many of them avowedly disbelieve, their point being that their opponents are piss-poor stewards of God’s creation. They’re right in exactly the same way that Rob Ford would have been right to warn Amy Winehouse about the dangers of hard liquor and cocaine. No, that isn’t quite it; they’re right in the same way that the mayor would have been right to call the cabbie’s daughter a dirty drunken crack slut.

Of course, the worst side effects of this orgy of consumption fall on the poor. It falls onto Waffle House waitresses living in falling-down two-bedroom ranch houses in a neighborhood between the freeway and the refinery where raw sewage backs up into the streets every time it rains and everyone has cancer by the age of thirty. The political class in this country does not live in such neighborhoods, and it does not socialize with their residents. The local elites in the same counties don’t socialize with or listen to these poors, either, although they make a lot of noise about speaking on behalf of all salt-of-the-earth American Christians.

Earth Day, then, is one of our national gifts as a post-Lenten society. If ever there was a spirit of voluntary, thoughtful asceticism in the US mainstream, it was nowhere to be found by my time. Self-denial is left to the desperately poor, for whom it is a matter of survival. It isn’t really so much self-denial, then, as other-denial. New Orleans celebrates the hell out of Mardi Gras, generally on a schedule independent of the parallel liturgical schedule of the Roman Catholic Church (hence New Orleans, not New Amsterdam or New York). Lent, one assumes, is neither big nor easy, and in truth, for those who observe it, or who try from time to time, it can be plenty long and hard. It certainly doesn’t fit marketing schedules as well as Fat Tuesday, the late winter feast, followed by Easter, the early spring feast.

We postmodern can add Earth Day, which isn’t formally a feast but is a perfectly serviceable Easter proxy for the unbelieving and the unobservant, a celebration perfectly consistent with Crystal Harris’s calendar of fun stuff. For the lucky among us, every day is Earth Day. For the unlucky, it’s Ash Wednesday and Good Friday all goddamn year long. One class does nothing but feast; another does nothing but fast. Any prudent person with even the dimmest sense of vaguely paranormal power would expect some form of damnation as a consequence for this arrangement. In the fogs of the not too distant past, we had a springtime feast to recover from a winter of privation and quiescence (verging on hibernation in many villages) and to replenish our energy for a summer of hard, hard work; in our own time, we have Picnic Day.

We are alienated from everything. Statistics show US Catholics taking more communion and less confession; one guess as to which one is a free snack. I don’t mean to write a Second Book of Isaiah about how we’re all just a bunch of vicious shitheads, or maybe I do. The story of a rich man, a camel, and the eye of a needle comes to mind. If I were one, I’d use my discretionary income to buy Steely Dan deep tracks on vinyl, not Fiddler on the Fucking Roof. I’d have to buy the record player, too, and housing close enough to proper shack size to safely house it. And myself. I’m in way the hell better socioeconomic shape than tens of millions of Americans, but I’ve still spent most of my adulthood surrounded by frightening low-class chaos that threatens to consume me.

Is it any wonder that an haute bourgeoisie that refuses to observe the common fasts also refuses to listen to the poor when they speak? I’m relieved whenever I can get a word in edgewise about the chaos I’ve seen and lived. I’m relieved whenever I can get my White People to take a break from their fun stuff and listen to real stuff that is unfun. A Hugh Hefner bimbo of the quarter is as fitting a herald of our times as anyone. That’s about as serious and mature as we seem to be. As I’ve said before, adulting is hard, but like Kajieme Powell, I’m taking a stab at it. Lord have mercy on us, because that last sentence was more mature than a number of entire American political movements. At least it wasn’t about Harry Potter, and I can’t say that about the Democratic Party.

Calling the United States a Protestant nation is a slur upon Protestantism. Calling us a Christian nation is a Piss Christ slur upon all of Christianity. The best I can say is that we’re at a really, really bad developmental stage that we refuse to recognize and can’t be bothered to transcend. The Benedict Option is about a lot more than two groups of assholes having a court fight over whether one of them will be forced to bake the wedding cake for the other. That’s just more national immaturity and petulance. I guess I have more common cause with Rod Dreher than you or he might think, at least when he isn’t bitching about Ariel Castro’s suicide as a failure of Orthodox penance. I’m living a more Lenten life this Easter afternoon just because I haven’t yet gotten around to food today than I find entire neighborhoods and congregations living during Lent, and that’s sad, because I suck at Lent. It means, I suspect, that many of us are fundamentally alienated from ourselves, just as we are alienated from our neighbors and our natural surroundings.

We live unbalanced, disordered lives. We keep the absolving forms of confession and indulgence in our carbon offsets, but we scrap whatever true repentance these old forms once inspired in us. It’s only fun stuff if we get automatic forgiveness and don’t have to change anything, after all. It isn’t as much fun to be an equal to the underclass on Yolobus as it is to lord it over an ever so slightly higher class of Help on Uber, where every day is Jeeves Fetch the Car Day. Judging from RT ridership stats and the cell phone lot at the Sacramento Airport last night, Sacramentans love them some Lyft. The airport put out a low-capacity portapotty at the cell phone lot for the jitney army. It’s always nice to see a government that spent a couple billion dollars on airport terminal expansion and a new basketball arena set up the conditions for a crowd-sourced Pot-o-Shit Friend situation on public property.

Environmentalism and social justice my fat white ass.

Brahmin pornography

It’s another Pleasant Valley Sunday, another day for you and me in paradise. Oh, look twice at this sloppy outburst of literary feminist navelgazing commissioned across the street from the Port Authority. Or, better yet, don’t look even once; it’s pretty dreadful. TL;DR: A chronic international student asks why it’s okay for men to wander vagrantly around the great (read: not totally dangerous) cities of the world when women are sometimes treated like common whores for doing likewise, and why the feminine version of the French masculine word for parasitical walkabout traditionally connotes sitting on ass like a proper lady, discovering in the course of her research that certain literary women before her did, in fact, partake of the Hemingway-on-the-loose shit, and incidentally some stuff about the existence of local working classes hidden in plain sight in the Beautiful Cookbook tableau of city life.

Alternate working title: Everybody’s Gone Swerfin’, Swerfin’ USA. Working girls, construed to also include laundresses and produce hawkers, were supposedly accorded the liberty to go out on the streets with whatever they were selling, while women who were evidently useless, but not their male counterparts, were not given the same street passes. The NYT being the NYT, there’s no ready way to tease the sexy sexual politics apart from the unsexy class politics, but this is no social science, it’s just another sticky day of literary horseshit for you. Yes, that was bad, but have you read the link yet? I still haven’t read it through, mainly because it sucks. Think about better uses of $27.00 plus applicable tax for ownership of a copy of this:

Following Elkin as she explores the city, we inch into memoir territory. Although she is a native of New York, she makes her first acquaintance with aimless urban walking in France. To her, the streets of Paris “seemed saturated with presence, even if there was no one there but me. These were places where something could happen, or had happened, or both, a feeling I could never have had at home in New York, where life is inflected with the future tense.”

Jesus Christ, Caulfield. At least she isn’t spending so much on cabfare. It’s fascinating to learn that New York City, whose history I’ve studied, doesn’t have one. 27 divided by 140/200/350/600/20/whatever=do your own damn math and you, too, can figure out how close the money you didn’t spend on that stupid book could get you to being able to hire your next honey. I decided not to exclude blow-and-go from thick, and I do mean thick, bitches in Over-the-Rhine, as portrayed on Police Women of Cincinnati. Maybe I should have, and by “maybe,” I mean “absolutely.” You’re welcome. Cincinnati is a famous city, too. Jerry Springer was once its mayor. Some redneck dipshits hollered vaguely aggressive abuse at me from their truck while I was walking around Newport (maybe Covington?), every bit as much on my own as these lit chicks. When school was dismissed, I got to hear a dirty white boy telling his eight-year-oldish daughter, “Daddy thought he was gonna have to go to jail today, but I told the judge, fuck that shit!” This was his response to hearing from the crossing guard, a kindly redneck lady growing old before her time, that his daughter had done really well on her most recent test and that he’d be proud of her for that. Should I write a book about any of this? No, that’s the wrong question. I could bang out something presentable and more or less coherent in a matter of days, but if I did, would I have a snowball’s chance on Diamond Head of getting it plugged in the NYT Book Review?

The most insightful take I’ve ever heard on The Catcher in the Rye was from some high school students in the South Bronx, who were floored that Holden Caulfield was so discontented when he had the privilege of being able to fuck around the nice parts of Manhattan in a taxi all day. Like, doesn’t that fool have to work? If he’s so privileged, why is he so unhappy? Aside from the litany of ways that the privileged sabotage their own psychic wellbeing and that of their dependents (let’s turn Big Ears Teddy around; he shouldn’t have to see that, either), these kids were right. If an overrated novel was going to inspire Mark David Chapman to off John Lennon, that was at least a fitting enough one. Mr. Lennon, most recently of New York, is certainly no longer inflected with the future tense.

I’ve bought day passes and gone joyriding on RTC to see if anything interesting was happening at the Reno Airport, largely because I couldn’t figure out what the hell else I was in a position to do with my week. Where’s my New York Times book review? More to the point, what’s the buy-in price on that scene? I have a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts from a regionally prestigious private college in the Northeast, and my network is fucking useless. What’s the source of the money that keeps these bitches wandering around Paris with no visible means of support? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s on an allowance. If I’m not mistaken, Reno is cheaper than Paris. I submit that these broads have access to capital. I personally know a woman who, for reasons not fully explained to me, has the means to frequently travel between the West Coast, expensive expat parts of Mexico, and Morocco, and, as far as I can tell, to do so without sleeping in doorways. She’s on the lit scene, too. I’m pretty sure JetBlue isn’t offering $84 specials to Casablanca.

According to the Emily Bailout story, the buy-in for a graduate sinecure at Alma Mater, Tried and True was Noble $50,000, payable upfront. My understanding is that Emily Bailout doesn’t even have a talent for writing overwrought Paris, Je T’aime bullshit. Whom am I failing to pay off for a damn job?

The most disgusting thing about this is the expectation that everyone agree with the proposition that the Times is a left-wing paper. It’s actually a mishmash of cultural limousine liberalism and reaction in crypsis that makes John Lindsay at his worst look like Richard Nixon at his best. There are reasons why Jacobin doesn’t have its own office tower on Eighth Avenue. Or, for that matter, its own postmodernist recreation of a Soviet secret police headquarters within walking distance of the White House. Democracy Dies in Darkness, after all, and the NYT and the WaPo, full as they are with spooks, know a thing or two about the dark side.

I believe the children are our future. Teach them STEM. Walk them around downtown Alexandria on a chain gang.

If you’ve loafed around these pages much, you won’t be surprised to hear that yuppie eugenics are a self-regenerative damnation upon America and that Jeremiah Wright’s prayers are superfluous. America is officially too woke for hard eugenics post Carrie Buck, that Austrian pest with the excessive interest in military stuff, and so forth. Soft eugenics is another matter, but not a much less appalling one. This is a fucking vicious country, and matters of hearth and kin are especially easy excuses for our violent outbursts of parochialism. The worst among us were already itching to hunt down the poor and brutalize them; “good neighborhoods” and “good schools” for our precious snowflakes are convenient justifications for terror campaigns, frequently racially coded, against the marginalized and the vulnerable that were on the agenda long before and irrespective of family formation. This way, the evil gets a pass because all the nice bitches at the HOA demand it on behalf of rugrats who are probably too resilient to need or expect communal interference against their integration with the local poor trash.

The kids are all right. No. They would be all right, or right enough, if their parents and their parents’ peers weren’t insane. There’s a billboard at the King Street Metro Station in Alexandria advertising STEM immersion classes for toddlers. This billboard raises a bunch of questions: Why does it exist? Why does the market for what it’s advertising exist? Why does anyone think it’s anything but pathological to force preschoolers into formal scientific training? They can hardly make it to the potty. Why does anyone think that little Madison gives a shit about STEM? I have a bachelor’s degree in geology and I think it’s a goddamn scam. Are the self-important shitheads who take that billboard seriously because they seek vicarious aggrandizement through their desultory, belated broods really crazy enough to expect their precious snowflakes to know what they want to do for a living before they’ve matriculated to kindergarten? In spite of all the bad things that the US workforce is, we do not live in a society of astronauts, marine biologists, and princesses. When trailer park boys (TM) tell their landladies (in the traditional feudal sense) that they’re “gonna collect a check, just like mamma did,” that’s just the preemptive triumph of realism over aspiration. If we want them to aspire to a more edifying reality, maybe we should make a justly compensated one possible for them instead of constantly berating them for not staying in school until they’re in debt for life.

There could be jobs for the native poor, but we give them to Mexicans. I simplify, but I don’t mislead. There is something else that I saw in Alexandria, even worse than the toddler STEM billboard. I saw a line of–I believe it was sixteen, although I was too floored to make a definitive count–toddlers tied by the wrists to a length of rope, staggered on alternating sides barely a pace apart, with a young Mexican lady in a daycare T-shirt tugging on the rope from their front, a second young Mexican lady pushing the line from the rear, and a third mamacita sheepdogging the line from the right. The lady in the front was pulling hard on this line of mostly unhappy and barely ambulatory tykes.

In retrospect, I don’t think it would have been wrong of me to call 911. Legal or not, that’s the kind of thing that ought to trigger a child abuse investigation. Cops ought to be called out to make sure that stunts like that don’t go one toe over the line into an actionable offense. What really floored me about it, in addition to the child abuse/neglect angle (like, who thinks a 5:1 brat:adult ratio is adequate for a toddler field trip, and where the hell are the parents?), was the Dixie angle. The Mason-Dixon Line, commemorated by Tom Lehrer in coarse, coarse song, is one formal frontier of the South, but Maryland isn’t wholeheartedly Southern. These assholes just had to deploy their children’s chain gang on the Washington & Lee side of the river. I immediately, of course, had vivid images of antebellum slavery. It didn’t matter that there was only one noticeably black child on the rope. One just doesn’t fucking do that in–dear God–Alexandria. Marse Bob himself wasn’t much of a racist, and certainly not a bigot (much like George Wallace). Dat Confederacy, tho. Or, perhaps, one does fucking do that in Virginia. It’s for Lovers. Loving (heh; look, I hardly slept last night) one’s children must be less convenient than hiring Mexicans to neglect and incidentally abuse them on public streets. This was happening on King Street in Old Alexandria, in a very ritzy neighborhood. I have to assume that the parents have significant financial resources to pay for daycare. They, of all people, should not have children being tied into a tug rope like prisoners and bodily jerked around by negligent Mexicans. If American migrant workers were doing that to Mexican children in Mexico, I’d be equally scandalized and even more furious at the gringos because, as their compatriot, I expect them to have better ethics than that in their dealings with small children.

That Kwesi Millington for Sheriff feeling surged through me, electrically (how else?), as I watched this scene. Every American who isn’t too retarded for the sixth grade should immediately and viscerally understand the implications of putting anyone in physical bondage as part of a group in the Tidewater South. George Washington stole teeth from slaves for his dentures not an hour by horseback downriver. Robert E. Lee, as I said, was a local boy done good, or bad, depending on taste. Mercy Street is filmed there, but its target audience is too busy with Downton Abbey reruns to watch it. These are, shall we say, ties that bind us to our history in the worst possible ways. Donald Trump was right about the slave chains: they’re not good, really not good. We should all agree with him on that much. And we should be absolutely sure that there is a compelling public safety interest in putting anyone into anything even resembling chain-gang bondage before readying the rope. Being too cheap to hire more Mexicans doesn’t cut it.

Especially in the fucking plantation South. What in God’s name is wrong with these people? Did they elect Jeff Sessions mayor? NoVa leans left, and to the extent that it leans right, it doesn’t lean mercy me and shut my mouth, I do declare the General Lee is late right. Looking at that toddlers’ chain gang, I’d sooner expect dandies and their ladies to don their Sunday best for a public slave whipping than Loudoun County libertarianism. If there was a consensus not to normalize the ugliest parts of the Old South for young children, it must have gotten lost in translation into the Spanish. Chicas: no es bueno. Comprende? No bueno. Madre de Diós. It’s like the gardener not understanding how you wanted the hedges trimmed, except it’s also child abuse, and we’ll be lucky if Neil Young doesn’t write another whiny song about old-fashioned Dixie bigots when he hears about this shit. #CanadianContent #CommunicateToCreate!

#NeverMind

Alienating the citizenry from the means of production is certainly a Tidewater classic. Here we can’t find Americans to watch their own countrymen’s kids, so we also can’t find enough Mexicans. Or Hondurans or whatever. Probably Mexicans, though. Do I sound like I give a shit if some campesino takes me for a Canuck because the gringos all look alike? A skeleton staff of foreign women who don’t so much speaka the English are hired to acculturate toddlers into felon work-release culture so that the toddlers’ parents can make a killing for, just a hunch, the Pentagon and its institutional sugar babies. National defense my fat white ass. We can’t find American girls to do that. What the hell is wrong with us? What the hell is wrong with our women? Judging from the staff at our massage parlors, we can’t even find American women to work as whores. Childrearing and whoring are basic as fuck. Most women will have an inclination to one or both, probably focusing on the former but not mutually exclusive. It would be like having a nation of men who are unable to do basic commercial yard work.

Oops. We have that, too, apparently, judging from the Mexican guys in the matching uniforms who got off the Metro at Pentagon City. We can’t rake a damn pile of leaves. Proficiency in English seems like a worthwhile secondary qualification in a gardener, but what do I know? I’m not in a position to lord it over my Mexicans, since I haven’t any. Proficiency in English definitely seems a worthwhile skill for a whore catering to American customers, but maybe I’m just old-fashioned for wanting to have a language in common for communication during casual trysts, for wanting the opportunity to cohere dates with prostitutes into a broader social context than a dozen badly mispronounced words, including “sucka” and “ooh, bigga cock!” These dates usually involve massage, allowing for even worse nonunderstandings having nothing to do with sex. Seriously, I’ve hired masseuses who couldn’t understand basic sentences immediately pertaining to their practice and who didn’t seem to understand a full dozen words of English.

It’s absurd, but come to think of it, what else should we expect as a society for not generally agreeing that proficiency in English should be a qualification for customer service positions? Do you expect your day laborer to speak any more English than “Home Depot?” Do you expect the staff at Panda Express to have souls?

This has been little more than a list of working stiffs that we don’t want to recruit from or integrate into a cohesive citizenry. It’s cheaper when the help doesn’t expect the privileges of citizenship. The way it treats children in daycare is certainly cheaper, in any event. The yuppies need to train little Parker to be the next Fleming right now, but they also must loot the federal treasury during entirely overlapping business hours, so I guess little Parker will have to ride that rope again, no matter how much it hurts his wrist. If that brat pack came from poverty, it would be under the watch of neighborhood aunts and grandmothers, not mercenary Mexicans in matching T-shirts. NoVa toddler STEM immersion and NoVa toddler chain gang forced marches are intersectional. They come from the same dark recess of the heart, and it ain’t a school recess, dawg.

More Filipina nurses should moonlight as hookers. We instituted English instruction in the Philippines and the government kept it up after independence (sic?), so it would be more culturally congruent than China’s bottomless surplus of women who avoided sex-selective abortion in utero. Lynn Majors may be the sexiest nurse, but he is not the ONLY sexy nurse. I got, like, an hour and a half of sleep on a train to Philadelphia just before dawn this morning, so of course that was inevitable. But who am I kidding? Most of you still come here for Dubai Porta Potty. Why do we keep getting non-English speaking massage whores from a largely industrialized country with a severe structural shortage of marriageable women? Organized crime has to play a role, but more in a stay quiet and I’ll smuggle you to the Promised Land sense and less in a Nick Kristof-engorging kawaii damsel-in-distress sense. (It’s easier to keep a kidnapping victim silent in a garment factory full of Fuzhounese women than in a whorehouse where most of the customers speak English and know how to call 911.) As badly as medicine has been corrupted, we still seem to expect more of nurses than that. They have to be able to say things like “just a little prick” (heh) and, like, know what insulin is.

What do we do to get English speakers into landscaping? I’ve already double-scheduled the Filipina nurses (again, I’m running on fumes), but our boy Lynn would look damn good mowing the lawn in a mullet. Chains or no chains, rope or no rope, only Joyce Mitchell would let Cullen out on furlough to tend the grounds.

Don’t go around saying that the foregoing was tasteless. I said Jesus Kristof’s name, but I had the restraint (okay, the computer-stupid) not to link to his work.

Christopher Cross crap, at a cost

My parents spent $13,000 or some shit on their pontoon boat and another thousand or two for the dock. Every year they spend, fuck if I can say for sure, but probably another thousand or fifteen hundred on dry dock storage in a big boat shed, glorified as a marina, and eight hundred or so for a crew of rednecks to do a sloppy, half-assed job installing the dock in the spring and removing and stacking it in the fall. They dock the boat in a shallow cove, the next thing to a marsh. It was dry over the summer, so their little bit of lakefront was marshier than usual. They had barely enough depth to get the boat out from the dock without scraping the muddy bottom. Every time they go out, the propeller gets covered with lily pads, algae, and other weedy slop that my dad (and I, if I’m around) have to scrape off. Rodents have already gotten into the engine housing at least once and chewed up the wiring. Water apparently got into the engine this summer, causing it to cough even at idle and to strain and buck at speeds as low as 2,000 RPM. You know, water: something your boat might be exposed to on a lake.

This next-to-useless money pit charms the sweet everloving shit out of my parents. I always figured they could rent a pontoon boat if they wanted to fuck around on one, but that would involve going to another lake, which would be problematic because reasons. Having a pontoon boat of one’s own on the lake of one’s own is excellent bougie for retirees of a certain class who regard Lake Winnipesaukee as overdeveloped and overromneyed to the point of untenable crassness and poor taste. They built a bunch of condos around it, libertarian twits won’t stop whipping out their live free or die stiffies, and a Mormon family showed up: more like Lake Wouppadefauquindoux, yes? Pardon my French, as they say; the Quebeckers aren’t reputed to speak it tout fauquin ouelle, either, and don’t forget, they produced Paul “Da Smoothie wif D Money” LePage. In my time, my parents have evolved from opposing pontoon boats on principle as noisy motorized affronts to proper armstrong-powered water recreation in crappy old canoes and rowboats to supporting pontoon boats as da good bougie kine. This change of heart (you could have one, Rikki) corresponds to their becoming older and less agile, and also to their becoming older and more affluent, so no, I don’t know where the correlations stop and the causations start.

What hasn’t changed is their obsessive Adirondack aesthetic, except to get stronger and worse. My parents weren’t culturally appropriating shit from the Dutch when they were living in Pennsylvania; it was too low-class. Now they’ve at last arrived in a place where one might summer, where my mom in fact did summer as a child, but on the cheap because her parents were semi-functional, not-too-poor poors with more education than sense, some long-term debt and, in my grandmother’s case at least, a weird sort of part-proto-hipster, part-earnest fascination with the Adirondacks’ low English drunks. A stray fruitboy could show up there, feel the abyss staring back, and frantically ask himself where the hell his plants went, but my parents didn’t raise me to be a fruitboy, so that’s my problem. God could I use a good berry patch up there just to keep the Devil away from my idle hands. The inchoate sense of this that I had as a child has been fully conscious for years as I’ve come to ever more fully realize that agriculturalists are way the hell saner than the sorts of layabouts, retirees (I repeat myself–mostly), drunks, generational welfare crackers, dissipated trust funders (I repeat myself again), summer camp weirdos, and other losers in the Game of Farming who retreat into the useless woods for a complete alienation from the means of production.

Don’t worry, though, Willie: this baby ain’t about to grow up to be a cowboy. Plants don’t shit everywhere. They don’t need anyone’s arm elbow-deep in their assholes at three am (I must not be nearly as lonely as I was hoping), their nuts cut off, or a big tube full of overnighted sperm from one of the lucky boys who got to keep his seed sack shot up their cunts in what P. J. O’Rourke called “like teenage pregnancy, only more so.” Cowgirls are supposedly all kinds of freaky good in the sack because, per Akinokure, they’re big-booty pastoralist chicks and, per country music, they’re cowgirls. Put two and two together and, ooh, you’ll get a clue, too! (Some moralizing Saudi fuckhead that Dinesh D’Souza (?) interviewed about same-sex marriage: “Men go into the desert and do shameful things with their camels, but this doesn’t mean that a man should be able to marry his camel.”) Some cowgirl’s daughter going from the corral to the pole to the bachelor fruitboy’s bed over the course of her career may raise questions you’d better not try to answer about how she got that way, but none of this is as fucked up as the Saratoga racing season. It’s one thing to stimulate the camel and cause milky explosion (Borat was right: there really are people who do that for a living) if the end result is meat, milk, pack, or draft animals; it’s quite another if the result is an inbred horse with weak bones being whipped halfway to death by a short guy who never gets enough to eat so that the posh have a theme for their gambling problems instead of a useful and edifying Maoist agricultural adventure. It might be excusable if we ate horse meat, as my mom has accused the Welsh of doing, but we don’t. I might even be able to put aside my aesthetic, ethical, economic, social, and philosophical objections to the races temporarily if ladies from the horsey-horse crowd put out for me, or if they just got kinda frisky with me, but that never happens, either. I’m still stuck buying that strange on overpriced markets.

As an Eastern European acquaintance explained when she was asked “why it is you women dress so revealingly,” “It is because we are a bunch of horse.” That’s a nice idea, in any event. So is a Saratoga economy that is not just a bunch of horse. So is a world in which I do not have a single degree of separation from the Council of the Sacred Horse. (It’s even worse than you imagine.) David Clayton-Thomas must be like, man, I dropped fucking acid and wrote a song about carousel horses, and I never came up with anything that bad. We know all too well by now what good too much royal horse time does to other criminally inadmissible friends from the great white north, but aside from Robinson and Millington both being strong Sheriff candidates, Sauce Boss would be a great cultural fit with the North Country just by virtue (sic) of his being a lying drunk with a Jeep.

Au Canada post-soviétique, le droit maintient VOUS! Of course this thing has come to Northside Juice and the Shady Blues memes. It’s come to far worse. Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t something screwy about me for noticing whether there’s an actual productive economy in my physical surroundings or just a bunch of hustling, scamming, parasitism, and living off the fat of outside lands dressed up as an economy. Is this a form of autism? Am I rolling in the deep on the Spectrum for being able to make accurate on-the-spot estimates of what percentages of each major ingredient in my food supply, and yours for that matter, are being grown in which places, sometimes to within twenty-mile radii? Am I the Rainman for being able to take the length and convolution of supply lines into account for these same impromptu mental calculations?

I mention these things because on their own they can make me feel like I’m living in a parallel world, looking in with uncomprehending horror on the world that most of those around me inhabit. I’m seeing things that other people aren’t. As a rule of thumb, this is regarded as psychosis. Just because the things I’m noticing are actually there–grain elevators and rail lines and orchards and Safeway warehouses and shit–doesn’t mean that it feels normal to notice them when hardly anyone around me does. There’s something that feels a bit paranoid about noticing how far a place is from the nearest farm valleys of any size and how far jobbers have to drive groceries from the nearest city with a warehouse to finally get that shit on the shelves. Glenn Beck might be interested in selling me some Mormon bulk emergency staples. But where the hell would I store any of them?

In the case of the Adirondacks specifically, I always find myself qualifying comments about what a pretty area my parents retired to with assertions that they’re way the hell north and remote. What’s actually going through my mind during these conversations (which are often with new acquaintances who have no idea about any of this shit) is a deluge of powerful but inarticulable uneasy feelings. When I was little, the most dysfunctional three weeks of my year were the ones we spent every summer, save one, on the lake with my grandmother and the rotating hillbilly horror show that made up most of her social circle. Thank God for the gentlemanly old drunk who was married to her childhood best friend; we didn’t see much of him because she was too busy with her Captain Cragen-looking shithead drunk of a boyfriend and his people, but we saw the Gentleman Drunkard often enough that I was usually able to maintain some hope. Now my mom has gotten my dad to help her one-up her mother by retiring in BoBo style to the same cove on the same fucking lake. Sometimes this includes my mom not getting showered and dressed until it’s time for dinner. Oh dear.

The uselessness of the Adirondack interior only adds to this ill feeling. Other than the sugarbush and a few specialty dairying operations that can hardly grow any of their own feed, the area is useless. As I’ve said before and will surely say again, this is why it attracts so many useless people. The earnestly trashy around there have trash for aesthetics. These can be found in many places that have productive economies, too, but they have an easier time blending into the woodwork around the working classes who are also present because they have work and are busy tending to it. What the Adirondacks also attract to a distressing extent are summer people, a higher class of white trash that cleans up better and highly esteems itself. Every time I see an Adirondack chair I die a little inside. This is not just because I was *GO DIPLOMATS!* a Dickinsonian who saw that misappropriated firewood supply arranged in circles on the Quad, although that doesn’t help my case a bit. Dickinson College was pathetically trying to cultivate the same New English wastrel aesthetic. With a social climber from Albany like Bill Durden at the helm, it would. Of course that fucker was down with retarded-looking, ergonomically disastrous lawn furniture culturally appropriated from an area with rampant untreated depression and ennui enough to floor Holden Caulfield. On second thought, the depression up there isn’t entirely untreated: alcohol can be a treatment. It was for the Gentleman Drunkard. He was from minor lace curtain Irish money, though, and I was from an upper middle class family on the make that championed middle-class sobriety and insisted on it by daylight, in addition to being a preteen. Faaaaaahhhhhk. I always got a bad feeling from the Adirondack chairs and the guide boats and the summer camps, like they’re gonna find someone’s body floating face-down in the lake before long. The coroner will have to notify the newly bereaved family, and it will be the North Country’s fault.

The woods, they haunt us. We don’t have a folkway to practice, and they’re gently, eerily telling us that we don’t belong, killing us softly with their song, killing us softly. Or hardly, we might say, perhaps in a classic North Country DUI. Watch out, or ew, you might get another clue! The Amish are more right than they are wrong about idle hands. Years ago a friend called me from Cape May to tell me that a crowd of dozens of tourists had stopped in front of a hotel to watch two seagulls mate on the eaves. People can get like that when they’re off work and at loose ends for less than a week. They flee to their expensive refuges from the rat race and end up watching birds fuck on a hotel rooftop. Anyone feel like insinuating that I’m a loser for picking blueberries for forty cents a pound now? Jonathan Livingston Stupid Sonofabitch.

The summer people came to the Adirondacks to get away from crazymaking, unhealthy work and living environments in New York City, and to the Jersey Shore to get away from similar environments in Philadelphia. The more time Brenda Jorett spends lounging on a beach chair, the less she spends scolding the Philadelphia area’s White Community. No, that is not a racial statement; if it were, I’d have omitted “White.” Now, that’s a helping of #TeshTips you won’t get on WHYY. Nor will they encourage you to spend less time working yourself to the point of exhaustion and also less downtime totally at loose ends all the live-long day for a week or two straight. That’s like treating a crack problem with heroin: it makes sense if you’re Charlie Sheen. Then again, we’re a pretty insane people.

My parents moved to the Adirondacks in pursuit of this bizarre, unspoken leisure ethic. Upstanding middle-class citizens aren’t supposed to be layabouts, and they certainly aren’t supposed to be proud of their own privileged indolence and irresponsibility, so everything salient about the bizarre lifestyles of affluent rural retirees is communicated in some bogus, inscrutable, and totally inappropriate manner. Taking this bullshit at face value is madness. So is attempting to decipher the actual motivations at play through the hurricane-force fog of passive-aggressiveness, disingenuousness, projection, subliminal messaging, and other habitual miscommuncation. There’s no winning this game.

There’s an incredible childishness to this shit. My mom told me once, during an angry argument provoked by my getting her car stuck at the bottom of the driveway during a modest snowfall because the driveway hadn’t been plowed, that there wouldn’t be a problem with her or my dad having a medical emergency at their house when the driveway was impassible because the ambulance crew could always carry them down the hill on a stretcher. I’d already been furious because she claimed to see nothing wrong with our being snowed in for a full day or two at a time when their road was fully passable solely because the company that plows driveways on their lake is a dipshit squad, so who cares about the last two hundred feet; when she made this comment about having an ambulance crew carry one of them down the hill on a strecher during a medical emergency, like it would somehow be normal and reasonable, I became horrified and frantic, too. I was dealing with a woman in her seventies who refused to admit any concern about the prospect of her overweight husband being carried down an icy 6-12% grade on a stretcher during a snowstorm because he’d just had a heart attack.

Again, this was my mom talking about herself and my dad. It was absolutely fucking nuts. I was an only child dealing with aging, isolated parents whose judgment was failing to the point that one of them was swearing that she’d rather have EMT’s do a Donner Party rescue at her house than live somewhere safe. The only hope and comfort I could take in this was that she was trying to save face in a domestic argument by taking a position so extreme and so reckless that I immediately got myself mentally prepared for the day when I’d have to call adult protective services. I’m lucky I didn’t end up feeling the need to do so that night. It was looking really fucking bad for an hour or so.

If I were really serious about my parents’ access to medical care, I wouldn’t let them forget that if they ever urgently need specalized care they’ll have to be medevacced to Burlington or Albany. From where we lived in Pennsylvania, the same radius would have covered an airlift to Lehigh Valley (site of a preeminent regional burn unit), and a slightly larger radius would have allowed us to be airlifted to Johns Hopkins, Jefferson, or Penn. As I said, the Adirondacks are fucking useless. You might as well catch a ride straight to Boston since they fired up the chopper.

Their solution to this is even worse: Oh, don’t worry, we’ll just move back to the Bay Area someday. Sweet Jesus. That will be a raging nightmare in its own right if they ever go through with it. For reasons that they’ve never justified, they insist that they’ll sell their Adirondack house–which my dad personally designed and they had built on a parcel my mom has owned since the mid-sixties–instead of renting it out, say, on a weekly basis to other summer people. I’m dreading this because moving away from the Adirondacks for good will destabilize my mom more than the deaths of some of her close friends. My only option may be to buy a trailer or hillbilly hut nearby and extend an open invitation to my parents to crash in it on visits to the area, but my mom would probably take offense at the low class and poor taste of such an offer, because that isn’t the kind of Adirondack lifestyle she wanted to cultivate. She wanted the one involving a $420,000 initial outlay (excluding the boat and dock) for a custom retirement house two doors down from her mother’s old cracker cabin, with no central air and no way to install window units without Magyver modifications to the doors. And where she’d better hope that the ambulance carries snowshoes and crampons. (She’s a chronically embittered atheist who resents the religious for their (our?) spiritual comfort, so she doesn’t pray.)

My most recent argument with my parents was over whether or not I should have a car of my own on the East Coast. They were adamant that there was no need for this. They got upset and maybe even offended by my insistence that borrowing one of their cars isn’t adequate. They must forget or not notice how nosy they get about why I want to leave the house (I’m not cruising for smack, so why does it matter?), and they verge on being shut-ins half the time, so it must not occur to them that I might be less interested than they are in personally leading such a lifestyle when I’m not even 35. I’m sure it doesn’t occur to them how they’d feel if they were dependent on me for a loaner car if they were staying with me and wanted to go anywhere.

This is another version of the idiotic mindset that finds snow days cute beyond the age of fourteen. I guess they’re cool for those who are on welfare, and in the North Country, you might as well be, but how the hell do you plan to get to your job and keep it if no one can figure out how to keep the streets clear? I’ve sporadically looked at job postings in the North Country, in the hope of arranging some interviews if my parents can ever get their heads out of their asses about how working in New York is consistent with my being a Californian or (please not) an Oregonian, but I can’t be relying on one of them for a commuter car, and I can’t be relying on some derelict redneck assholes who always drive 20 mph too fast on my parents’ road to plow their drive in time for me to leave for work.

This shit is now happening in spite of the $10,000 of EXTRA money that they wired me to buy a new car. Seriously. But in the meantime, my dad got on my case to go ahead and spend $12,000 on a Fit that I test-drove in Lancaster (it was nice, but not $12k nice), register it in California, and drive it out west by way of my parents’ place. That makes no fucking sense. There are some Kafkaesque licensure and residency requirements for personal vehicle registrations that I researched, to no real avail so far, but I’m not driving a car across the country just because I’m having a dispute with my parents about where I should legally reside, where I should actually live, and why. I went down that rabbit hole because a car salesman who may not know his ass from a hole in the ground told me that it’s illegal to register a vehicle in a state where one isn’t licensed to drive, and I still can’t tell whether he actually knew what the hell he was telling me about the regulations. The surreal thing is that if I can somehow get around the residency bullshit, or narrowly comply with it, I’d be able to get myself an adequately serviceable East Coast clunker for $1,500 or less and a newer, more bitchin’ West Coast ride for $5,000 or less.

To recap, the pontoon boat cost $13,000, and my parents have been sandbagging my proposal to buy a bare-bones car for my own use around their house, WHERE THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO PUBLIC TRANSIT. I’ve suspected as much for some time, but the only way I can resolve this mess is to blindside them and show up with a new used car. I told them that I wouldn’t be complaining about this if they lived in town in Glens Falls or Saratoga Springs, or really anywhere within liberal walking distance of bus or rail service, and given the amount of walking I’ve done to and from transit stops in multiple states, this is no empty promise. Then again, they always pretended that they took my interests into account when they moved north, which is bullshit. So was their ongoing conceit that I somehow wasn’t homeless. I’m not sure that they’ve gotten out of that chronic make-believe even now. It’s absurd, but the main reason I bite my tongue about my homelessness has been a desire not to upset the housed and make them feel awkward.

I really should go to Kamloops and buy freebase for home baking from the RCMP. It’s a bad idea, but it isn’t a relatively bad idea. Just look at what I’m trying to deal with now. It’s so neurotically goddamned middle-class. The upper class doesn’t give a shit about its residency when it wants to buy a Senate seat or, according to recent scuttlebutt, a 19% stake in Rosneft. The lower classes don’t give a shit about their legal addresses when they put their trucks up as collateral for gentlemen’s loans and then get their rigs quasi-stolen for nonpayment/general lender’s avarice because that motherfucker had a set of Duplicate Keys (TM), after all. For the middle class, though, it’s always like, where do you live? I dunno. What do you do for a living? I dunno. Realtalk, if I go fuck some Kamloops crackwhores at a discount by fixing them salmon dinners and shit so they aren’t spending their McDonald’s money on base at the Mountie barn (I’m thinking a sugar cure with a maple syrup glaze, since it’s on the flag, eh), that’ll be more civic and sensible before the lower classes than just about anything I’ve been getting from the upper middle class since at least 2007 as its downtwardly mobile scion. (Rob Ford? That boy wasn’t eating his salmon. That wasn’t an Omega 3 layer he was wearing, partner.)

Instead, I’m dealing with my mom’s intensifying cold sensitivity, which I’m sure has a psychosomatic component. You’re probably thinking, thanks for the diagnosis, Dr. Hasan. You’re welcome. It also has a why the fuck did she move to the Adirondacks if she didn’t want to get cold component. I’m past the point of prejudging Interior BC’s crackwhores as a worse kind of crazy when they could just be a different kind. Just last fall I had a dope whore jonesing in my car and then going into a gas station restroom to inject her latest set into her index finger when she got into a jam and I gave her a ride home. (Homeskillet: “Captain Save-a-Ho has arrived!”) She agrees with me: it isn’t glamorous. But neither is this North Country bullshit. Sobriety doesn’t fix jack shit up there, nor does intoxication, although it might be worth a shot.