I’m sure this is literally the worst thing a nurse ever did in Indiana

While Eli Lilly was out running more Tuskegee-grade medical experiments on Indy’s homeless, a newly licensed RN got fired from what sounds like her first job at IU Health for publishing a tasteless but Brandenburg-compliant tweet about the awfulness of white boys and the white mothers who raise them to be so awful:

“Every white woman raises a detriment to society when they raise a son. Someone with the HIGHEST propensity to be a terrorist, rapist, racist, killer, and domestic violence all star. Historically every son you had should be sacrificed to the wolves Bitch”

That’s certainly an indulgence in grand hyperbole and an offense to English composition, and homegirl used some dubious, muddled crime statistics. A scrubbed account under the same handle, @tai_fieri (hey now, haven’t the West Coast Italians been white meat since, like, 1850?), makes Taiyesha Baker out to have pulled a Cella with a professional license, but it isn’t clear whether her account got taken over by MAGA trolls after she deleted it or she reopened it to troll the shitlords.

The least disturbing thing about this scandal is that a nurse wrote some obnoxiously racist shit on a personal Twitter account that appeared to have been semi-anonymous, showing her face and using a handle based on her given name but not directly disclosing her legal name. We’ve apparently got internet sleuths doxing a junior nurse and ratting her out to her bosses. This is vicious, officious behavior that should be strongly discouraged. We’ve got dozens of the creepiest fucking right-wing nutjob sites aggregating this story that really amounts to a nurse being rude online and whipping it up into a moral panic. Human resources is involved, and that means that we’re the resources. Specifically, we have a hospital HR department throwing a new hire under the bus, scapegoating her as a one-off threat to patient welfare and safety, which, statistically, is closer to an absolute impossibility than an extreme improbability. It’s funny, but no one in HR ever says, gee, I’m a fucking grandstanding useless eater with n skill set and no ambition to lead any sort of reputable or productive life, so I think I’ll go fly a sign down by the freeway instead of shitting on someone who just passed a bunch of nursing classes and the NCLEX-RN for being mean online.

Nurse Baker sounds rather prejudiced, possibly unto bigotry, but take a fucking look at the creeps she’s riled up. I, for one, find it impossible not to fully and unabashedly take her side, not to endorse everything she wrote but to rebuke everyone who is willing to turn into a monster in order to punish junior employees like her for engaging in rude dissent.

A tweet montage assembled by PJ media (not sure I want to link to it in case it’s a cesspool, so feel free to look it up yourselves) included an all too apt complaint about racial prejudice in department stores: “Yt women steal more than anyone. they used to fuck nordstrom up. Only blacks got followed by lost prevention tho.” (Sic.) I don’t doubt this for a fucking second; that sort of shit is notorious, a serious, ongoing scandal that realistically will be brought to an end only with undercover stings followed by lawsuits.

Baker also complained about ammosexual white colleagues, and again, as much as I support broad gun rights for hunters and sport shooters and wish anti-gun elements wouldn’t be so ignorant and prejudiced about those who use guns responsibly, I’m all for the ridicule of ammosexual dipshits, who are a separate constituency from normal hunters and shooters. Hunting is a legitimate, useful folkway. I find sport shooting a bit foolish and frivolous, but there’s nothing really objectionable about it if it’s done safely, and every shooting instructor I ever had in the BSA was openly ready to rip any of us a new one for being reckless, inattentive, or, God forbid, insubordinate on the range. I’m glad I’ve done some sport shooting, then, and that I know how to use a gun safely. This is totally separate from believing that yahoos who think they’ll be able to charge into some shootout like Bat Masterson and successfully neutralize the combatants with a Glock that they keep in the purse are sacrosanct and beyond criticism.

This entire uproar is over political speech. There would be no way to fire every nurse who has noxious or bizarre political beliefs and still have a working healthcare system. And doctors? Holy shit, do you realize how many docs make Radovan Karadzic sound like Vaclav Havel? Physicians, surgeons, and for that matter dentists tend towards some fucking horrific politics. They believe some really bonechilling stuff. Some of it is about race, most of it is about class, and when it’s about race it’s reliably also about class. There’s a disturbing, credible body of research indicating that medical prejudice results in significantly worse treatment and outcomes for minority and poor patients, often due to implicit, not explicit, bias.

Coarse online venting or barstool talk is a red herring. The actual threats to patient welfare occur in actual clinical settings and involve actual clinical practices, just as anyone with any fucking sense would assume. A nurse who got her license last month has senior colleagues, charge nurses, and physicians regularly keeping an eye on her work. If she’s mistreating patients and the other staff on her floor aren’t out to lunch, they’ll catch her. This is basic shit.

The perfect is the enemy of the good here. We are never going to have a medical sector whose staff have flawless politics, and we’re fucking retarded if we think that this is even worth attempting. Policing clinicians’ off-duty political lives inevitably results in more staff disgruntlement, worse patient treatment and outcomes, higher staff turnover, and an ever worsening healthcare system. The sort of people who most successfully navigate politicized workplaces are the most manipulative and dishonest. More than a few of them are outright psychopaths. Taiyesha Baker was run out of her first professional job, and likely blacklisted, not for being politically controversial but for practicing poor social media opsec. HR, by gruesome contrast, is full of disingenuous, fake, craven shitbirds who have no principle whatsoever and are easily capable of Eichmann-grade institutional cruelty. These are the ones who are careful with their social media profiles. These are the ones who self-censor and stay on brand. Baker doesn’t scare me; these creeps do.

A well-run hospital or clinic has institutional controls in place to ensure that patients don’t fall victim to poor care for any reason. That includes purposeful mistreatment or neglect informed by the bigoted personal views of individual clinicians. But professional standards are maintained in the workplace, not by hounding employees after hours and ratting them out over politically inflammatory rhetoric that has no bearing on their professional lives. If a nurse is walking the floor muttering, “Damn, I fucking hate crackers,” that’s a problem. If a nurse vents about troublesome patients or colleagues (who most assuredly exist) away from the floor, that’s a safety valve, and probably a crucial one. Hospitals are full of aggravating people and situations, so of course the staff are going to have impolitic things to say about them. HR and other admin scum scrupulously pretend otherwise because they’re sheltered predators who will never concede their own great fitness for defenestration. That’s another great Central European political tradition, czech it out, but don’t worry, no one on the admin wing has heard of Havel, either.

Maybe the only people worse than people who admit to having vicious personal beliefs are those who successfully pretend that they don’t have vicious personal beliefs. That’s who runs modern neoliberal society. Everywhere we go in mainstream society we’re governed from some snakepit. It’s all too plain to see that the caliber of “human resources” “professionals” (I should have given prior warning to ready the airsickness bag) who fire the likes of Taiyesha Baker are incalculably worse and more dangerous than Taiyesha Baker. Does she sound like she has what it takes to get into corporate management today? Hell no. That’s why we should be on guard around those who know when to keep their mouths shut. Or as they say in Alabama, Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth.

No, Neil Young is not the most interesting Canadian. No reason they can’t sing that same tune north of the mighty Ohio, even on the banks of–my God, this is true; what surreal providence–the White River. This is like learning of Joey Buttafuoco all over again. It’s better than the possible existence of Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend. He may be a crisis actor for all I know, but it’s a good story. I’m publishing some rude, problematic #content here, too, but HR is what we get by endlessly seeking out politics that are safe for work.

Enough gendered comments about nurses, though. This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned that men can be nurses, too, and it won’t be the last. Nurse Lynn Majors? Ooh, she sounds sexy! Yes, you’re right about that. He’s dead sexy.

Don’t be surprised to read that; be surprised that it didn’t come up earlier. It was a long time coming. So was Mike Pence getting a bunch of people sickened and killed by blocking a needle exchange program in Scott County, but they were his constituents, not his patients, and whatever it is, you’re allowed to do it if you call it policy. Or if you call yourself Eli Lilly, apparently.

Lynn Majors may be the sexiest thing ever to happen to nursing, but I keep getting the feeling that he’s far from the worst thing to happen to it, just as I keep getting the feeling that Taiyesha Baker isn’t the worst thing to happen to Indiana’s white community. It’s not like he cleaned up well enough to get hired at Terre Haute, where they also keep a clean needle and drug supply, or like she got deployed to Vancouver fresh out of Depot. I might be literally shocked to see Gerry Rundel on the scene, but I wouldn’t to hear him rue the day he quit that fishing gig.

You know who’s all about staying on brand these days, though? That’s right: one Kwesi Sekou Millington. #CommunicateToCreate! Just in case Hitler wasn’t enough of an embarrassment to vegetarianism and the health cult, our old boy who sued the CBC for damaging his reputation is pitching something called Meatless Muscle, too. That’s what happens when you actually kill a white guy instead of going online to complain about white people. I’m sure the Dziekanski family is relieved that his problem isn’t with honkies, just with agitated guys.

We’re all living in a Black Mirror episode; I’m just trying to do a little something to chronicle it.

Hey, I just said “black!” Guess I’m not getting a job with language like that.

Advertisements

Old McPickton had a farm

E-I-E-I-Ew. What interests me about the Sick Willie case isn’t just that he’s a Canadian serial murderer, although there’s that, or that he was a test that the RCMP failed for years until that newjack swore out the search warrant over the gun complaint, driving home the impressively terrible track record that the Mounties have with guys named Robert on the Lower Mainland. These are the memes that sustain us, but what caught my attention about Robert Pickton as a local nuisance was that at a time when the Vancouver Police and the RCMP had their thumbs up their asses in the face of citizen suspicions that he was committing serial murders, the local authorities in Port Coquitlam successfully took him to court over code violations on his property. They got all up in his face about the squalor and disorder and noise and told him, look, champ, this ain’t a farm. They got a court to agree that keeping a few pigs in the middle of a junkyard and unlicensed rave venue was not a legitimate farming or animal husbandry practice and to broadly enjoin not just Pickton but anyone who was found on his property from being a dirty, licentious pain in the neighborhood’s ass.

This sort of code enforcement action chaps many an easily bruised rear. Hey, now, you can’t tell me what I can do with my own property! Oh yeah? We just did. Government overreach is certainly a possibility, but every derelict slumlord nuisance in the land thinks that his own catastrophe of a property is the victim of government overreach when the authorities tell him to clean it the hell up, so we get a whole lot of boys crying wolf. I don’t suppose Joe Dirtbag thought anyone had any business calling code enforcement over Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift and the proliferating rat mess, never mind that the trash can Pot-o-Shit Friend filled to permanent ruination was a piece of winery equipment stolen from a winery that I had helped fund and operate for years.

On second thought, I shouldn’t assume the permanent ritual uncleanliness of a trash can full of some pitiful little weenie’s shit in a community that tolerates Pot-o-Shit Friend in the first place. There’s always the chance that some filthy derelict will try to clean out the housewarming gift and puts its fine vessel back into normal service; this is the same farm where I once listened to a dipshit talk about how it was okay to cut corners on the composting of human waste in Hawaii because, you know, the weather is hot there and that moves things along. Joe Dirtbag isn’t necessarily any cleaner or more upstanding.

That whole joint is an infinitely intensifying haidt-fuck. That’s why society needs code enforcement: to forcibly clean up after the antisocially filthy. If no one forces them to clean up, they’ll endanger those living on their property and their neighbors. Fuck anyone who acts like government in Oregon has the meddlesome overreach of Santa Monica, the public corruption of Nigeria, or the incompetence of Somalia. I’m not here to run interference for dirty, derelict motherfuckers who allow their tenants to shit in trash cans or wrap their turds up in newspaper and toss them out the trailer door next to a heavily trafficked footpath.

Again, these things have actually happened on property that continues to be funded with money under my control. I’m a minority owner in the LLC, with a stake of only $15,000. There’s a total of something like a quarter million dollars in investor money tied up in this shit, in addition to probably over a hundred grand in outright gifts directed towards farm operations (including fifty from my dad alone to stave off foreclosure after JD orally amended the mortgage contract and came within months of losing the whole farm as a result.) Then there are all the other gifts that Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew solicit from their moneyed pushovers in one breath before proclaiming their proud self-reliance in the next: $15,000 from my dad for a Subaru, $5,000 or some shit for a new stove and refrigerator at home. Not that there’s any reason to stop at that when they can also get an electrician to rewire their house on an out-of-state license and no bond in exchange for the privilege to move into a garden shed in their front yard, after he’d spent several months paying them rent on behalf of his erstwhile roommate, their lifelong squatter, who had run the electrician out of his shack by going psycho again; or for JD to stop illegally collecting rent under the table on a collection of junkyard tenants when he shows no signs whatsoever of using any of their rent money to make renovations that have been past due for three decades.

If I ever take this shitshow over, I’m kicking the losers off the property as soon as I can line up adequate (i.e., much better) accommodations for them. This is all seriously fucking shady and unacceptable. When I go down to the farm, I do bona fide, productive work towards the maintenance and improvement of a property where money under my legal control is already tied up. I don’t go down there to live in an illegal trailer park. I imagine I’ll get pretty cross if any of these losers raises objections to my activities on the property, which include doing much of my work by flashlight or moonlight late at night. I work as quietly as I can to avoid disturbing anyone, and again, my money is tied up in that shit, so, yes, I damn well should be allowed to come and go as I fucking please. Nobody else seems to be clearing out the abandoned vineyard blocks. I’m getting shit done in a pretty unfavorable situation, not as much as I’d like but a decent little chunk of decades-deferred work.

If Joe Dirtbag were a normal person I’d talk to him about clearing out the abandoned blocks instead of sneaking onto the property like a guerrilla when he isn’t there, but he’s abnormal, and I’m not about to get sucked into one of his sandbagging campaigns. He can hem and haw and get in the way of productive work with someone else. For all I care, he can be shunned, leaving him with no one to sandbag but himself. I’m not about to reach out to liaise with any of his tenants, either, including the Ragin’ Canajun. I happened to talk to RC about what I was doing to clear out the abandoned shit a year or two ago, and he appreciated what I was doing, so I don’t really expect trouble from him. At the same time, I resent the very idea of people who are living in squalor on that property, against my wishes, claiming or being given a stake in my activities on separate parts of the property that, until I went in with my pruning shears, were entirely abandoned. This is first-in-time, first-in-line shit. I’m not letting anyone else actively obstruct my homesteading efforts there. I’m not hacking my way through that shit foot by foot in order to be groovy or sociable; I’m trying to get this property closer to turnkey condition for whenever JD dies or becomes too decrepit to keep fucking it up.

The Ragin’ Canajun is a serious, competent, upstanding farmer, and to be clear, I’ve never had any trouble with him; I’m just worried that he may get drawn into some drama opposite me at some point in his capacity as the lead tenant farmer. If he’s still at the farm, that is; since I haven’t socialized with anyone there this year and often work at night, I’m not sure, but I’ve noticed that his old truck hasn’t been there. I have no such generous feelings towards the other tenants. I basically figure, look, I don’t know who the hell you are, but I do notice that you’re living like Oscar the Grouch. What, you need to park your trailer right here, on a lot without a toilet? It’s already up on wheels and could be pulled out by any high-horsepower pickup truck, so no you fucking don’t. And stop calling it a “tiny house.” If it feels like a reduction in the standard of living to move into an seven-by-fifteen trailer, that’s because it’s a reduction in the standard of living, you daft cunt. Stop polishing that turd.

The bottom line is that these people are fucking pathetic. Any tenants’ rights movement would come down on Joe Dirtbag like a ton of bricks. They are never going to get minimally adequate housing out of that derelict bastard without taking him to court. He’s the one with the electrician living in a shed in exchange for off-the-books work that’s liable to get his home insurance policy canceled, if he has one. The electrician is on the lazy side, but he’s done extensive work both as a licensed electrician and as a short-order, which is how he met JD and FS; he was one of their employees. A day or two per year in either of his lines of work should more than pay for his fucking shed. The dipshits with the tiny house at the farm aren’t getting jack shit out of JD, either; all he did was allow them to haul a turnkey trailer that they’d build offsite at their own expense onto his property and set up a semi-legit electrical hookup. They owe him nothing beyond their electrical bill.

Then there’s Busboy, or whoever else may be living in the new and improved rundown thirty-foot school bus now that the funky old short bus is gone. It was reprehensible of Joe Dirtbag to harass him over his otherwise routine run-in with the cop, and Busboy and I both would have been well within our rights to sue JD over that shit (not so much for financial damages as to force him to account for his actions in a court of law and show that there are consequences for harassing workers and tenants). Busboy’s victimization does not, however, mean that he has any business living on the farm. I don’t mind him, but I certainly don’t need him around, either, and a sensible landowner would not have allowed a couple of losers to park a fucking stove-equipped school bus next to the path up from his fields to the main farm gate.

This is where the Ragin’ Canajun’s attitudes start to bother me. He was all annoyed that Busboy was such a slacker when his girlfriend was such a go-getter, with her plans to volunteer at the women’s collective in Nicaragua or whatever the fuck. Gee, a woman who doesn’t mind living in a fucking school bus is shacked up with a ne’er-do-well? You bloody don’t say. I always assumed she’d be the governor’s mistress.

The real problem here is expecting ANY work ethic or initiative from people who live like that. No one can legitimately demand reciprocity from people living in such half-assed conditions in the developed world. They have been given nothing of any worth to inhabit, so they owe nothing in return. They shack up in piece-of-shit disused school buses that would otherwise be broken up for scrap. For all I know, they’re setting up the next Pot-o-Shit Friendly treasure hunt for whoever cleans out their junkyard when they leave by making their own arrangements to avoid the pit outhouse. I got a really bad feeling when I saw a bucket sitting behind a tarp a bit past their junkyard a couple of years ago.

When I moved into my apartment in Eureka, which was managed by a building manager and an office staff who all belonged in federal prison, I had to clean some hair off the walls and some detritus off the stovetop. When the Ragin’ Canajun moved onto Joe Dirtbag’s farm a couple of years ago, he had to put on coveralls, get splashed with literal shit that sloshed out of a brimful trash can while he was disposing of it, and scoop piles of rat waste eighteen inches deep out of the walls. I would not be out of line to tell a man, no, you are not allowed to charge rent on a goddamn bat cave. I was not out of line to complain to code enforcement. I will not be out of line to call 911 if JD gets hostile with me for standing up to him about any of this horseshit.

I don’t envy Busboy for sitting on ass and having no ambition, but that’s his problem. JD using him as a source of drama and illegal rent on a property that we all funded to operate as a farm is my problem. JD allows the worst possible people down to the farm as de facto stakeholders whose interests must be considered, at the expense of ours, because they’re now wandering around the property for no good reason and likely as not getting in the way. It’s expensive enough for me to drive to Oregon and absorb overpriced lodging costs in order to tend the farm. Joe Dirtbag dumped another few thousand dollars’ worth of indirect expenses on me by tolerating Mixups in my Mind, whose presence seemed incompatible with my car’s. The ten dollars a day that I’ve spent on parking at no fewer than three airports functioned as a sort of loss damage waver on a planned nonoperational filing. That’s every bit as fucked up as it sounds, but the alternative was the risk of my car spatially coexisting with Mixups’ apparition of Satan during one of his smashing rages.

That’s JD’s problem more than his, since JD was sane enough to recognize that Mixups was violently psychotic and had a serious drinking problem. He’s the one I’d have to give most of the blame if Mixups somehow mixed up my car’s windshield with the Devil and took a length of pipe to it. That was the last straw for my parking my car at the farm while I was out of town. I wasn’t about to risk one of the craziest guys in the county waging spiritual warfare on my car at a time when I wasn’t carrying damage coverage. Besides, what would I tell the adjuster? Oh, yeah, that was just the paranoid schizophrenic squatter who sometimes bashes the nearest window to shards in fits of rage?

I love the virtue of doing farm work, so I feel no resentment of lazy dipshits who don’t as long as they stay out of my way. Busboy does. Mixups in my Mind and Psychotarp don’t, but they’re too crazy to be held accountable. Joe Dirtbag doesn’t, and that’s why I make sure that he’s away before I set foot on the farm.

Surely this well of piss shall not soon run dry.

That time Little Charlie rose to the occasion wasn’t the worst of it

Lordy, here I go again up to Old New England, where they also don’t so much pronounce their ahze, on a mission to get Charlie off. CHAHLEE!

Sure, Charlie Rose sounds pretty gross in private, but television is overflowing with talent (sic, often unto death) that’s shockingly gross by any decent standard in public and on purpose. Just the certainty that Rose’s hotel room and mansion appearances, toweled and otherwise, were not Bernaysian mass mind control works strongly in the droning geezer’s favor. A full hour of Charlie Rose making noticeably erect pelvic thrusts through his sweatpants on the LA Metro Gold Line would be less painful than the average minute of DeGeneres, E.

That name. They aren’t even trying to be subtle anymore. I was able to specify the agency, route, and clothing above because I once had the misfortune of witnessing exactly that on the part of a fellow much crazier, less handsome, and more disheveled than Charlie Rose on the way into Pasadena. I suppose I could have called 911 or some shit, but what would have been the point? There were already too many deputies and rentacops on the trains, mostly for over-the-top fare enforcement; as a fellow inbound Blue Line passenger complained to me upon receipt of her citation and not five hours before she was booked into jail for the night, “Sheriffs think they the motherfucking po lease!” On the letter of the law, she was all kinds of wrong, but civically she wasn’t too far off the mark.

Will I see YOU tonight? Amtrak runs the only train through Reno, so no. Instead I have television to keep me company in our common time of thanks. I’ve already managed to catch bits of Live PD and Chrisley Knows Best, and I didn’t come across anything so brain-deadening at Donner Pass last night, so I’m not off to the best start. I also tuned halfway in to Jeopardy, more because why not than why, and didn’t actively enough tune out the utterly meretricious human interest story of the day on the local news, about a homeless veteran in Philadelphia who got $160,000 in contributions a viral GoFundMe page set up by the stranded couple he bought gas with his last $20. Methodically and reliably giving a larger number of the down and out more manageable sums of money must not be heartwarming enough for this Satanic nation. I keep feeling bad that I dogged on the Dunkin’ Doorman for pestering me for a mere 20% cut of my lost and immediately found money. I got curt with a guy who may have the most middle-class set of values in Atlantic City, just because he was a whiny pain in my ass.

The couple that set up the GoFundMe page are distributing extra money to other homeless, but it’s still striking that they didn’t gross $160k in a week or whatever by setting up an general-purpose page to fund relief for the homeless. We are ever so fucked up to get our heartstrings arbitrarily tugged by this cloyingly sappy shit. The corporate powers that greenlight cherry-picked feel-good stories about do-gooders in a time of pervasive, unmet need that they deliberately fail to cover are plainly evil. As a people, we absolutely should not feel good about ourselves because we are objectively bad to one another. That’s the painful truth, and I don’t give a shit how offensive anyone finds it. It SHOULD be scandalous.

In this context, I can deal with some fucking Charlie Rose. The guy can be rather tendentious and self-serious, but he has a nice underrepresented regional accent, not another case of the House Voice. I don’t have the damnedest clue of what he finds so compelling about plain black studio backgrounds, but I’ve seen worse. Actually, on second thought, he’s probably just subtly communicating that we’re all groping our way haphazardly through life, gazing as we go into the featureless void.

Hey, I just said “grope!”

Correction: Hey hey hey! Do we not all want it? Do we not all want to hug, or at least to rhyme?

Charlie Rose will never be as bad as Nightly Business Report. Other than World News Tonight and the local weather report, that’s what I really watched this evening. To return to our topic from the other day about reasons why PBS doesn’t actually need or deserve our viewer support, that shit is produced by CNBC. Maybe it can also be funded by CNBC, then. They’re up to their eyeballs in corporate money; why the fuck do they need our money to air that shit, too?

When I was thinking about not writing this screed, it occurred to me that NBR must have terrible ratings and therefore be an inconsequential curiosity. On second thought, I realized that however bad its ratings are, its audience turns out to vote and probably does more than its expected share of bitching to elected officials until it gets its way, so I guess it’s worth a look.

Aesthetically, NBR is a small group of boring af bougies who are totally on Xanax, but small, carefully calibrated, old money doses, not holy Mother of God I’ll flip my shit and get fired and end up out on the street if I don’t get my ass medicated new money doses. Charlie don’t care how much Xanax he’s popping, and he dun’t care if you care, either. NBR’s target audience tends towards Group 2, intersectional problem drinkers who will never quite feel socioeconomically secure. That, by the way, is the group I’m most smug about exposing for its substance abuse problems; it’s always lecturing someone conveniently other than itself for not being disciplined and sober enough to function properly in our ever-changing economy.

The social attitudes on display here are functions of socioeconomic upbringing, but not in any straightforward way. I know for a fact that anxious, backstabbing new money includes the children of financial millionaires with terminal degrees. That’s the Insurance Shmuck, for one thing. He’s the one who was all like, oh, no, I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol until my senior year, all I had was an entire bottle of Nyquil at bedtime every weeknight until my rowdy drunk-ass rebound girlfriend told me she was worried about my health and got me to binge-drink hard liquor at least four nights a week. (I paraphrase, of course; it’s useful sometimes to edit for clarity.)

When I was little, I used to pick up bits of Louis Rukeyser’s shows when my dad was watching them in the kitchen. I remember Rukeyser having a combination of unabashed but reputable personality and natural poise that’s missing from television today, much as Fred Rogers bequeathed his children’s television tradition to the assholes who came up with Barney the Dinosaur and Dora the Explorer. What I remember from the old Rukeyser shows and Nightly Business Report episodes in the eighties and nineties was a surprisingly charming host would yuk it up with some pleasant and functional enough dork who’d just researched a class of hella obscure stocks that might be worth buying. It was never a do-or-die horror show in which the entire audience had to put aside at least ten percent of its inexorably stagnating wages in the face of unpayable student debt or never be able to retire. The wicked returns meant being able to buy a nice car or fund the kids’ college accounts early, not possibly avoiding medical bankruptcy with some good planning and better luck.

Obviously, this sort of programming is directed at a well-to-do, educated audience, and when I first started seeing segments of it I was too young to fully appreciate it, but certain ugly aspects of other television were clearly absent. There was no forced, contrived abundance mentality; it was understood that the audience was in a position to build personal wealth from a foundation of genuine stability and prosperity. For the same reasons, there was no air of investor coercion; that is, the stock market wasn’t being pitched as the only way for a yuppie to stay afloat in an increasingly unstable, unpredictable, and dysfunctional economy. That ramped up under Clinton and Bush II and went entirely off the rails around the Bush-Obama transition, which was of course also when the international economy crashed violently into the shitter. Meanwhile, overtly commercial investment broadcasting, always a somewhat cruder art, went completely fucking bonkers, taking on raging nutcases like Jim Cramer, who was fit to be shot with a wildlife tranquilizing dart.

Barring a few grossly overhyped wildcard situations, the dice have been cast for the last time for the Baby Boomers. They’ve got what’s coming their way, or, more commonly, not got what’s not coming their way. Gen X is a boring segment for the marketeers, but that still leaves me and my (mostly younger) people, the eternally shit-upon Millennials, not to mention whatever metapostmodern gobbledygook we’ll be told to call the crop of rising young adults as they continue to mature into twentagers.

This really is some fucking Francis Fukuyama shit, a horizon beyond which there’s nothing. Millennials are infamously workshy, but it might be worth considering that we’ve become detached from the workforce because there aren’t any damn jobs. Five million-some jobs in the United States alone vanished into a fourth-turning secular economic catastrophe between 2008 and 2009. The workforce participation rate dropped by five points year over year and has stagnated ever since. A measurable percentage of the population doesn’t suddenly up and say take this job, bundle it with all other possible jobs, and shove it. If a job that doesn’t require advanced formal education isn’t illegally reserved for immigrants (often illegal), it’s reliably some shady 1099 bullshit like Uber. The social ties that might lead the unemployed out of this nightmare have disintegrated across huge swathes of the native stock.

Nightly Business Report’s coverage of this burgeoning dystopian precarity is understated on strictly artistic terms, but it’s a fucking shitshow. NBR takes several clashing premises that can’t possibly fit together and pretends that they somehow cohere into a navigable whole. First there’s the chronic assumption that the working affluent deserve magical returns on their financial investments because they already have lucrative jobs. This is ridiculously inequitable, but in times of more or less broad prosperity it might not be a disaster. Since we’re going through times of uncontrollably growing precarity with no real sign of relief, though, we get to add the premises that:

–individual workers need to goose the shit out of their retirement accounts if they want to have any hope of retiring, and they’d be fools not to make maximum employer-matched contributions if their employers offer them;

–lol jk, individual workers can’t afford to fund their 401(k) accounts because what would have been discretionary income twenty or forty years ago is now devoted to student debt that they can barely afford to service;

–but it really doesn’t matter in the end, because this fitness class in Palm Springs and this other geezer who we found in Burbank taking classes to be a background actor prove that the elderly have no plans to retire.

By the way, our aspiring background actor lost a logistics business to the Second Great Depression, and NBR mentioned in passing that the percentage of employees whose employers offer pensions has dropped from something like 90% to 30% in thirty years. Yeah, I’m sure that just happened. I’m not convinced that the pension figures weren’t somehow garbled by sloppy research, but it’s indeed true that defined-benefit pensions have mysteriously vanished from the private sector, and that labor unions have mysteriously vanished over the same timeframe. This must have just been some inscrutable act of God having nothing whatsoever to do with leverage buyout thugs breaking the meatpackers’ union in Albert Lea and then doing the same thing thousands of times over in dozens of industries in practically every state of the Union.

Medical expenses got a brief mention on NBR tonight, too. You may not have a union in your shop or anywhere on the horizon, but did you know that doctors are still unionized, even in avowedly open shops? It’s called the American Medical Association. The worst rentiers in medicine, however, either get MBA’s or sell out to the MBA’s and go into hospital administration. But again, none of this has anything to do with the uncontrollably rising costs of medical care and health insurance.

Like hell we’re going to strategically invest and reskill our way out of this dystopia. PBS, which is actually CNBC, has some nerve to imply that we will. It never ceases to amaze me how modest and civic the Dunkin’ Doorman is in his whiny calls for alms, but that’s the difference between funding a coffee habit on Sunday morning and funding five nights of neoliberal atigprop a week.

We’ll need more than a stiff cup to stay woke for this fight.

Death cult

The Democratic Party’s awesome corruption, contempt for its own voters, and dysfunction as an opposition might be amusing if the major party opposite it weren’t an absolute horror show. We, the people to which the elected are answerable, were denied a decent choice among the two viable presidential candidates last year.

For that reason alone I’m unmoved by all the apoplexy directed at third-party voters who refused to be sheepdogged. Clinton as the only bulwark against Trump was a fucking disgrace, and so, increasingly so as his administration unfolds, was Trump as the only bulwark against Clinton. I seriously considered voting for Trump before bunking down on the Stein Steamer for the last week or two, and I probably would have voted for him had I been registered in a swing state. A close Republican friend of mine voted for Gary Johnson in spite of the “What is Aleppo?” moment, which appalled him, because he believed that Trump was a usurper of the party’s leadership. Another Republican friend told me, “I voted for Clinton and immediately felt bad about it afterwards.” Both of these guys are lifelong Pennsylvanians, so it was other, more downmarket, sorts who got the Trump Train over the hill there. They both have politics that I’m sure would be harmful to the country if scaled up, but they’re true class acts, and I was especially offended by the prospect of the reluctant Clinton voter believing that he had no option but to support someone he abhorred because the only alternative looked even worse.

I don’t think it’s too much to demand that politicians offer us a positive reason to show up and vote for them. If voters individually conclude that the best thing they can do with their vote is to support the least of the evils, I’m fine with that, but I don’t take well to being ordered how to vote. Nope, that’s my decision to make as an individual, because the franchise is granted to the individual, as I’ve been arguing since 2004, when friends in the Newman Club were advancing what amounted to the collectivization of the franchise on behalf of the Catholic Church. I take my individual duty as a voter seriously and go into it as maturely and well-informed as I can; if other individual voters are frivolous or ignorant in their voting habits, that ain’t my damn problem. I don’t mind positive arguments on behalf of a candidate I despise and distrust, even Hillary, but barking at me how to vote? Fuck off, champ.

It’s surprising in retrospect that I caught such flak from establishment Democrats for withholding my vote from Abuela and none from Magaland, which was teeming with creepy authoritarians. I guess it was because I was an apostate from the Democratic Party cult (which I had never actually joined in the first place; I had compelling policy reasons to campaign for John Kerry). It’s easy to lose sight of what a recent development the incursion of cult authoritarians into the mainstream of the Democratic Party has been. Historically, the Democrats have been the undisciplined, disorganized, easy-come easy-go party, repeatedly floundering before the Republican war machine. Funny thing, though: when they tried to go full Churchill on every Republican beach last year, they fucking choked.

What is “Wisconsin?”

One of the morals here is that it’s really tricky to fight fire with fire. Voters figured the Democrats were out to burn them, too, and that if they wanted that they’d have taken a creepy firebug ex-lover in Spanaway. That’s barely on topic, but it’s more fun than anything you’ll hear from the centrists, and you’d be a brame fool to think otherwise. No, the Democratic Party is not, dare we say, sound. This prattle will end when it feels like ending, and it’s still going to show the perezidential faction to be a bunch of out-of-touch retards. *Shit. Shit. Shit.* Voters may trust a campaign that’s businesslike if has a decent conception of the public business (Sanders), but we don’t much care for a campaign that can’t take a joke, can’t make a joke, and treats us, the constituents it’s trying to win, as the joke. That’s why it’s generally a good thing when the candidate who goes on Ellen to do the nae-nae loses, and to resalt that beautiful wound, yes, Virginia, she fucking lost.

But to what? That’s the sick part. I was eager to give the Donald the benefit of the doubt, a chance to show that he was governing in the public interest. Maybe the honeymoon lasted longer than it should have, but it’s looking pretty bad now. Trump got over the top by appealing to distressed, disgruntled workaday voters with gushing talk of populist restraints on big business. By this standard alone, ignoring all the civil liberties and due process violations of his administration (especially on immigrants), he’s a failure. He was not elected to have some corporate shitbird at the FCC repeal net neutrality rules. That did not happen.

Steve Bannon, for all his faults, has been out for months, and with him his advocacy for a more cohesive core American society. The social fabric has been fraying so badly and for so long that someone had to step in and point the way towards its reinforcement. Bannon filled a void that the neoliberal corporatocracy deliberately created. Having the hubris to assume that such a vacuum is sustainable doesn’t make it so, and sure enough, it’s a vacuum no more. Natural law enforces itself in due course of time, and Bannon happened to be the instrument closest at hand when that time came.

But, again, he’s out, so positive law and military-industrial complex hubris are back. And Bannon led just one of several bickering factions within the Trump administration, the rest of them flagrantly venal. GOP establishment crooks were never going to do anything good for the country, and neither were a Stepford Wife like Ivanka, the inbred Don-Don and Eric duo, and the ridiculous Anthony Scaramucci in the family business and cronies faction. This is presumably why we keep business separate from family.

Then there’s Donald Trump’s own raging bigotry. The guy isn’t just foul; he actually looks insane.

Ronald Reagan dogwhistled to the worst elements of the Hard South by starting his 1980 campaign with a speech on states’ rights in Mississippi, the Clintons dogwhistled more subtly but also more destructively, and even Mocha Haole crudely played the good cop to the usual squad of bad cops in his efforts at Community policing, but no matter how vile they were, they had a strong appearance of self-control, of not entirely believing their own bullshit. They were deploying talking points to pander to evil but influential elements of the electorate, so there was at least a faint hope that they might be won over to less evil stances if the political winds shifted or towards discreet moderation if they were given some cover.

Trump, in stark contrast, is constantly fuming unfiltered about the craziest, most reprehensible chain e-mail urban legends and news-talk hoaxes. If he didn’t actually believe this shit, he wouldn’t carry on about it on a social media account that he personally operates. This is separate from his habit of dissing other celebrities and politicians. This is the shit everyone’s deranged, dubiously employable uncle does. Pandering to bigots is reprehensible, but it’s a rational response to bad incentives, so strong counterincentives can be used to limit it. This is different. The highest elected official in the land is constantly mouthing off with his schizoid delusions of persecution. The fucking President of the United States of America is acting like all the paranoid authoritarian assholes who go on Twitter to report leftist shitposters to the Secret Service account and post pictures of Jeff Sessions under the caption “Court is in Session.” (Wrong: he’s just the AG, dumbass; his own horrified colleagues shot down his bid for that federal judgeship.)

This is a crisis of leadership far worse than impulsive rudeness. It isn’t just bad manners. It isn’t just a breach of horseshit Sorkinian norms. It’s a genuine governing crisis. The chief executive of an imperial juggernaut of over three hundred million residents is showing overt signs of mental incompetency and incapacitation. Worse, the batshit insane behavior in question has been normalized, in large part because the president himself is allowed to engage in it without consequence. Congress has not brought articles of impeachment against him on the basis that he’s behaving rashly and belligerently towards innocent parties and blatantly out of his goddamn mind.

But why would it? Trump is the first Fox News president (as well as the first Extremely Online president), but his party, which controls Congress, loves it some Fox News. If they’re comfortable showing their hand so promiscuously, it’s probably because they’ve already normalized every noxious thought process and behavior in question and assume that their constituents consider it all equally normal.

Fume all you like about Trump, because the bottom line is that he’d be neutralized if he were presiding opposite a Democratic or hostile Republican Congress. If Congress actually took an adversarial stance towards him (as so longwindedly encouraged in so many of our nation’s founding documents) he’d be a mere nuisance, and he might well no longer be in office. Congress has the authority to remove the President, whose very title of office was chosen by the framers of the Constitution to convey its tenuousness. The president merely presides over the government from the executive branch; he does not reign or command. The framers hoped that Congress wouldn’t frivolously or lightly remove presidents from office, but they also made it explicit that they considered it a congressional duty to hold presidents accountable as coequal officials, not be subservient to their majesty. Congress obviously has the constitutional prerogative and duty to impeach and remove unfit presidents. If a critical mass of its members determine that the sitting President is unfit for office, they’re completely within their rights to haul his ass up to Capitol Hill and say, listen, dipshit, you do not get an entire term to act like a fucking shit-flinging paranoid schizophrenic in public, because that is not within the scope of your office.

As so often is the case, hardly anyone in power actually gives a shit about principles or norms. Trump’s bizarre outbursts have been so normalized on the right that they’re hardly even an embarrassment to his fellow Republicans. Let’s not kid ourselves: Clinton got impeached by Democrats for being an embarrassment and by Republicans (including our old boy J. Denny Dundiddly) for being a cheap and easy target, so if the GOP Congressional Caucus decides that his bullshit has gotten tiresome and off-brand for the party, they know where to find the levers to catapult his ass back to Mar-a-Lago.

The Republican Caucus tolerates Trump because he and his people cooperate with their grotesque, brazen agenda of nihilistic evil. That’s what the Republican Party has become. Formerly a party of stewards, it is now a party of murderers, rapists, slavers, kidnappers, and vandals. Reagan had a vindictively destructive side, especially vis-à-vis labor unions, and this was excruciatingly ironic and hypocritical for a former SAG president, but even at his worst, shitcanning PATCO en masse and standing back while private capital busted meatpackers’ unions across the Midwest, he was positively restrained and public-spirited compared to those who have come after him in his name.

It’s never the real pirates who hoist the Jolly Roger. We’ve mentioned net neutrality already. Ajit Pai and his crew are obviously out to help the trusts shake down the public for access to infrastructure that was funded and built by DARPA. The Republicans are the ones who tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a working replacement, endangering the lives of sick infants, special-needs patients, and every other medically vulnerable population that the Republican Party’s own sincerely pro-life constituency spends its own energy and treasure protecting to the best of its ability. It’s overwhelmingly Republican politicians who have sandbagged Medicaid expansion at the state level and tried to repeal it at the federal level.

It’s the GOP, inevitably, that is now trying to force through its fresh hell of a tax “reform” bill. Student interest will no longer be deductible, but private jet costs will. This is more nihilism. The Republicans are up on their burn down the ivory tower bullshit again. Anti-intellectualism generally comes from a place of nihilism, and this crew is really vicious about it. They aren’t looking to oversee federal grants to universities more closely; they’re looking to force an already grievously indebted alumni population even deeper into crushing student debt and indiscriminately cut off grant funding wherever they can out of spite.

There are a couple of huge problems here. First, the student debt: 44 million Americans carry student debt, a number eerily close to the 46 or so million who were reported as going without medical insurance during the Clinton Administration. If lenders are in trouble with this class of debt because it’s bad (they in fact are not, and it isn’t), why the hell isn’t it their problem for not having done due diligence? Unsecured loans to people with no apparent marketable skills and no personal assets based on unpredictable future earnings? It’s no wonder the lenders leaned on Congress, including Delaware charlatan Uncle Joe, to exclude student loans from federal bankruptcy protections. This way they get to skip the risk and skim the interest, which is usurious enough to cover a hell of a lot more delinquency than has hit the market so far.

More broadly, though, there’s the nihilism of trying to burn down the academy because it happens to harbor some people one finds annoying, antagonistic, and, supposedly, not adequately useful to society. If we’re looking for jawboning wankers who have no marketable skills, there’s no reason to go on a damn college tour when there’s a Metro Station and long-distance passenger rail and bus terminal a couple of blocks from the US Capitol. Do these assholes have any sense of irony?

Sure, there are wankers and bullshitters in academia. No shit, Sherlock. Anyone who pays attention to federal expenditures, though, knows that they’re marginal, mostly harmless, and kept afloat at a relatively inconsequential public expense. They could be working on the F-35 clusterfuck instead, or riding the maritime demolition derby circuit with the Seventh Fleet.

Must we actually throw the baby out with the bathwater by collectively punishing entire universities just to spite a few losers in humanities cul-de-sacs who are already regarded as embarrassing ne’er-do-wells by their more rigorous and accomplished peers? By Paul Ryan’s reckoning, we most certainly must. That pig-ignorant thieving piece of shit won’t be happy unless we, generally his intellectual superiors, are made to feel pain for no reason. Does that fucker have a science or math background? Does he know how to do long division?

A reasonable response of good faith to concerns about government waste would be to go up to Capitol Hill and hand out 7-Eleven applications. That’s where most of Congress would be working if they had gotten ahead in life by their own merits, assuming they hadn’t been fired years ago. The brightest bulbs don’t go into politics, certainly not in a political climate as ridiculous as ours today. The least we can demand of them is that they have the humility to recognize that they are setting law and policy for people who include their unambiguous intellectual superiors, both in government and out. That clown crew doesn’t have what it takes to work for the FAA or to do crop or climate science research at the University of Nebraska. The decent among them admit as much and act with a fitting modesty, but the last thing anyone can expect of the average congressman is decency and the modesty to go with it.

I’d say that we should send these assholes down into the Metro tunnels after hours to scrape the hair and dandruff and shit off the third rails for fire prevention, but I respect railroad maintenance of way crews too much to send a bunch of worse-than-useless jawboning shitbirds over to get in the way of people who work for a living. This is why we have public assistance: to marginalize those who will inevitably fuck everything up if they engage.

I’m just trying to do right by my great-grandfather here. The union allowed him to raise my grandmother and her siblings in a stable lower-middle-class existence because it shook the damn cash out of the Union Pacific’s pockets. If tamping iron accidents are going to be a tradition, then, they might as well stop happening to the front of the head of some poor bastard like Phineas Gage and start happening to critical parts of the back of the heads of, say, Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach.

Brandenburg, bitch. Tough shit if that got y’all sunflower salty.

What’s the matter with Kansas is the matter with a lot more than just Kansas. The government is the only reason the railroad ever did a thing to keep us safe. Besides, I’m not getting anyone hurt by playing Fantasy Industrial Accident, which is noticeably safer than real professional football. Holler back at me from Congress when Americans are no longer dying because they’re rationing their insulin to make ends meet.

“And we should mention that Google is an NPR sponsor”

Gee, should we, Ari? You don’t say!

NPR and PBS have this unbelievable pathological compulsion to avail themselves of all problematic funding streams. Direct federal funding–you know, because they’re federally chartered corporations and maybe the feds ought to put their money where their loud mouths are–is chronically obstructed by grandstanding shitheels in Congress who would rather nurse their pet moral panics for a living than take up a line of actual work or, hell, tend to the public business. Audience funding is an operational clusterfuck for the stations and an aesthetic and personal affront for the audience. Several times a year, we have to listen to whiny, passive-aggressive, neurotic, sanctimonious, and utterly uncalled-for lectures about how the vast majority of us are no-account free riders. Oh yeah? Fuck all y’all in that case; I can always scroll over to WCKM, which is the only station my mom’s car can reliably pick up most of the time, doesn’t explicitly insult its own listeners, and sometimes plays some bitchin’ tunes. Sure, it doesn’t offer the unintended fun of Meat E. Urologist Steve Maleski, but at least that part of the damn sky doesn’t have such an obnoxious, leering eye on me.

Ideally, the ultra-wealthy of this country might fill the gap because public broadcasting seems worthy and they have the capacity to fund it, but the sick, inescapable truth is that they’re stingy as all hell with their patronage because they can exercise more leverage over their host society that way. Warren Buffett (a Congressman’s son, let’s be clear, not actually the child of a meatpacker or a railroad brakeman or what have you, the way he’d like us to assume) doesn’t hoard his billions so that he might be magnanimous or discreet or public-spirited in his disbursement of them. It isn’t his place to be the change he wants to see in the world, unless that change is making his own grandchildren grovel for their periodic Dairy Queen treats; his place, rather, is to lecture society at large for being moral failures that oddly fail to constrain him and his kind. Say, that couldn’t have anything to do with billionaires having enough money to bribe officials dozens of times over, could it? Nah.

No, I’m not just quickie-ballparking the figures or pulling them out of my ass. For the hell of it (because it’s my own damn decision to directly research this shit, or not), I checked with NPR (coy about the bottom line) and Wikipedia (spergtastically specific), and sure enough, NPR has an endowment of about $258 million, much less than the $400-something million currently held by *MY OLD SCHOOL*. That works out to something like a year and a quarter worth of operational expenses. Billionaires consort with one another all the time and have staffs dedicated to organizing their charity (sic), so there’s no way they couldn’t find a way to split the bill and spare the rest of us the fucking quarterly radio lectures.

If that sounds expensive and wasteful, realize that Dickinson College uses its cool four hundred mil to miseducate Main Liner asshats who should be posted on corners right on the dividing line between Black Kensington and White Kensington, so that they might take full verbal abuse from both communities, including the Community and the drugs community. NPR, House Voice and neoliberal agitprop notwithstanding, is a huge national news broadcasting operation that does quite a bit of original reporting on a daily basis, some of it on the ground in rather unstable parts of the country and the world. From this perspective, it gets some real shit done on a shoestring. Sure, it could provide better coverage and be less corrupt, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a bunch of overseas news bureaus cost more than the township annual budget, some butthurt #TCOT asshole’s net worth, or whatever other bogus comparisons the starve-the-beast culture war shitheels in the GOP would like to use when they aren’t dumping another trillion here and trillion there into fruitless and deadly imperial military adventurism.

NPR and PBS can’t meet its budgeting needs just from federal funding reluctantly disbursed by an arbitrarily hostile Congress or by passing the hat to their newly reannoyed audiences, so they turn to multinational corporations to fill the gap. They never fucking listened to any of the perfectly sensible people who warned that they would sell off their own journalistic credibility by selling out to these thieving leviathans; their critics were all just catastrophizing Chicken Littles who refused to catch up with the times, which now, for reasons never properly explained, now required trusting the motives and ethics of shady corporate trusts that maintained full-time staffs of shamelessly mercenary “public relations” “professionals.” That is, in-house propagandists. On top of this, they had the gall to ever more needily guilt-trip the audience for alms, instead of considering the possibility that private citizens might be more enthusiastic about giving their discretionary income to organizations that didn’t sell out to ADM to produce the NewsHour.

The executives are foolish or arrogant enough (probably both) to assume that their customers wouldn’t possibly see through this admitted triple-dipping racket. It’s like a bum shaking a cup of loose change in front of the train station and then admitting that, yeah, I change into my begging clothes every evening after I get off work at my PR job for ExxonMobil, and by the way I’m on welfare, too, but you see, my boss and the clerks at the welfare office are mean to me, and all I’ve got to my name is a house that I own free and clear and a quarter million in savings. Nobody would give a fucking dime to such a schnorrer. Listeners and viewers do give to our esteemed public broadcasters, largely for shameful psychosocial reasons, but far from all of us do, as we’re berated several times a year in the free rider lecture series. Do I sound like I’m spending money that I might but don’t necessarily have on these triply freeloading shitbirds? Hell no.

As anyone with a lick of sense knows, the corporate money comes with enough strings attached to knit a damn sweater collection. The very fucking point of public broadcasting was that the public (that word again; hmm) would have the option to get its news and entertainment from outlets that were freed of the corrupting influences of corporate money. Yeah, that’s going just swell. For once we have an audience that is withholding its financial support on principle, not just because memberships are expensive, and the executives and almscriers and bagmen cannot imagine that the free riders are motivated by anything but crass stinginess.

If we’re feeling conspiratorial and psychoanalytic (hey, I just said “anal!”), we might conclude that they project their own vice onto the rest of us. The priests at one of the parishes that I regularly attend (homelessness, remember) take five seconds during the announcements at the end of mass to encourage us to contribute to the charity boxes at the exits. That always seems like a gracious reminder to do something worthwhile; we aren’t the most organized of the churchgoing, and God knows we aren’t the most punctual. With a stroke of seasonal bad luck, I might roll out and turn on the car radio just in time for an interminable group guilt screed about how important it is that we all give at least $60 a year or some shit.

Yeah, how about fuck the lot of you. Going to mass to get AWAY from the guilt is always a red flag, and not one about the one holy catholic and apostolic church. Leave it to NPR and PBS to pick out the most graceless, annoying, and dysfunctional traditions of the Judeo-Christian religions and blend them into a syncretism of earthly hell.

Are you paying for that? I’m not. Someone has to pay for it, but you don’t have to be that someone, either. As Ari Shapiro admitted, they’re already Google’s sugar baby. This brings us to the provocation for our current screed, yesterday’s All Tech Considered story from Toronto, a tentatively smart city. One might think that not promptly calling the police, an attorney, or the CBC’s HR department after being choked by Jian Ghomeshi wasn’t exactly smart, but that’s way too expanding galaxy brain for the likes of NPR. Google is building some shit on the waterfront, and listen to this, Brando, it’s gonna include some automated underground do-hickey to cart away the rubbish so that the beautiful people don’t have to look at the garbage.

Or the garbagemen, to wax conspiratorial again. These fuckers would never voluntarily go without a servant if they can order one up on demand (Uber), but they’re visibly uncomfortable with the continuing existence of servants (Uber again). This is why Techytown will be swarming with robotic buses, too. That trash train, though. One of the world’s premier internet technology companies is trying to build the city of the future, and one of its two or three proudest features will be a literal garbage subway. Imagine asking one of the guys who built the New York City subway system about that. Sure, we could do that, but why the fuck would we?

An old-school New Yorker can always kill two birds with one stone by throwing inconvenient items of trash into the tracks or leaving them on the train. We can be stationary or dynamic about these decisions, but someone else, almost certainly a union employee, is paid to clean that shit up now and then. They may be sore about how everyone’s always throwing a bunch of gawbage down heah, but they’re on the clock, and the MTA more or less comes through for them.

That isn’t the sort of New Yorker that Tory-era Toronto gets. Cool T’rana gets some asshole from the New York City mayor’s office to talk about how gross it is to have to look at properly bagged and canned trash on the street for a few hours once or twice a week and how that stuff should be out of sight and out of mind on a bespoke subway system parallel to the fiberoptic network. New York has always produced more than its share of trashies, neurotics, loudmouths, and others of dubious sociability, with dubious enough results, but the technocrats who have made careers trying to socially engineer the forced cleanup of their city are way worse. It’s like, man, I’m in the hospital with this awful cough and, oh my God, Cullen and Majors just showed up on the floor, no way is my heart up for anything that sexy. Yeah, you’d better get out, or you, too, might end up on the night shift (on the night shift).

Of course New York is rather dirty; what else is new; but can we at least not be meddlesome, sniveling dipshits about it? And why are we acting like a fucking trash tunnel is tech? Using a special hand-carved rock to pound acorns into flour is technology, too, but that isn’t why Google was founded. Did anyone on Sand Hill Road think they were funding a civil engineering firm? If Toronto wants a trash subway, why doesn’t it hire, like, CH2M Hill instead and cut out these assholes who inevitably end up fighting over the interior decoration of the private 767 that they garage at Moffett Field?

In a city as cold, snowy, and dark as Toronto, it makes sense to underground some shit. Canada has had underground malls for decades, so no one needs to convince the average Canuck. The retarded thing about Google is that it’s showing up with plans to mothball the garbage truck fleet and start running driverless buses around all day. This seems like a great opportunity to replicate the new Denver Airport’s custom automated baggage shredding system (which was quickly replaced with old-fashioned cart trains) and to spend millions of dollars finding novel ways to fuck up winter road maintenance.

Smart Toronto’s local critics are probably right that Google is actually scheming to use them as test subjects without their consent. That’s the industry standard, although, oddly enough, we hear little about the tech industry’s ethical problems on NPR. I can’t imagine why that is. But think about how fucked up NPR’s audience is to not have any interest in what might be worthwhile civil engineering projects until some dipshit ridiculously declares that they’re actually all about whizz-bang computer stuff. That’s just pathetic. Using the tenth generation of computerized pocket telephony to remotely oversee illegal jitney cabbies who have been lured into debt bondage worthy of sharecroppers under Jim Crow is the coolest thing ever, but making sure that the roads are plowed and repaved as needed or that there are working sewer and railroad systems is totally boring.

Colby Cosh was absolutely right: not nearly enough of us work with our hands for a living.

Don’t fence me out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spanksgiving in the State of Jackoffson

It’s starting to look like Thanksgiving Day will be a workday for me. Today has already been a workday, making Saturday my Monday, or some such shit. Answer me, Dowager: what is a “week-end?” For, as usual, this is not work in the normal modern American sense. What I did this morning was a bit less than two hours of reclamation work on the jungly shit that Joe Dirtbag abandoned for twenty-plus years. Pretty much all of what I reclaimed today was regrowth in areas that I’d cut back last year, but I’ve beaten a slash path back to the edge of the serious thicket, and other than being worried that Joe Dirtbag might show up earlier than I expected and I might have to explain myself to him, it wasn’t too hard. It’s strenuous, but I find it perfectly manageable. I’d be able to put a serious dent into the abandoned vine rows if I spent a concerted full workday at it. Depending on how thick the growth is, I can hack out anywhere from probably six to twenty feet per hour, and that’s with nothing more than a pair of pocket pruning shears. I rarely even bring gloves: not the smartest move, and a disgrace to the Boy Scouts’ oath of preparedness, but my God, Chesterfield, it isn’t that bad to get pricked a bit now and then.

Heh, I just said “prick.” Giggity.

Nobody will be assigning me to do a lick of work on Thanksgiving Day, but Joe Dirtbag will be cooking and jawboning at home most of the day, so I’ll have the space and freedom to sneak back onto his property, since I’m already funding it, and damned if I’ll spend another high holiday being bullshitted by that seedy crew even if they invited me. They’ve blown it with me a few too many times. I’m not sure that I’ll do more bush clearing work on Thanksgiving, but it’ll be a rare long block of daylight when I’ll be pretty sure that JD will be absent, and I’m not eager enough to try to score an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner with any other family or family friends on the West Coast.

What I’m doing isn’t George W. Bush-style cowboy-ass horseshit. It’s partly a way to get some exercise and have something to do, but it’s also progress on a decades-long backlog of work that will make the farm that I’m still funding a less total disaster. Joe Dirtbag was a dissembling sack of shit to say that he was maintaining the berry thickets as bird habitat. Every fucking disingenuous NIMBY shitheel from Bend clear west to the water’s edge has a sob story about the birds. It’s usually some acre of utterly unexceptional oak scrub in an already developed patchwork of exurban mansion tracts a quarter mile from mile upon mile of wilderness that no one has any plans to develop; in JD’s case, it was a couple of thickets of invasive weeds growing every which way over vineyard blocks that he’d abandoned a stone’s throw from a riparian greenbelt that he long ago put into perpetual wildland easement.

What he was really trying to do, I assume, was to Tom Sawyer me into more unpaid work in his death trap of a winery so that he’d have plenty of black market wine for that dipshit radiologist to bootleg into California. No fucking thanks. He screwed the pooch the last time I showed up to help him by mouthing off about Busboy and that cop. Busboy seems to be a lazy derelict, but the way to deal with a lazy derelict isn’t to squeeze him for rent on a blantantly uninhabitable junkyard, harass him for not doing enough unpaid work, and yell crazy shit about an on-duty cop who is conducting official business on one’s property. Besides, Busboy mostly keeps to himself. A derelict who is living peaceably in squalor that his landlord won’t do a goddamned thing to abate doesn’t owe the landlord a fucking thing.

JD would have a case that Busboy is an obstruction to the businesslike operation of his farm and that his curtilage is an eyesore if he cleaned up his own piles of dirty ramshackle shit and brought the farm into compliance with 1930’s rural electrification standards, but he doesn’t. He has jack shit for moral or legal authority as the rent-seeking proprietor of Twenty-First Century Tobacco Road. This shit would have been backwards and squalid by the standards of functional communities in the 1880’s, but we’re all expected to agree that this is just a harmless steampunk underground or some such nonsense.

This is why I’m always tempted to complain to code enforcement again. We’ve got the Ragin’ Canajun living in an unplumbed shack wired with a daisy chain of outdoor extension cords running across a mud parking lot; Busboy and his old woman (I think) living in a thirty-foot used school bus (an upgrade from the short bus!), also without proper plumbing and wiring; some chick living in an old barn last I heard; and a couple shacked up in a bespoke trailer, tiny house my ass. I’m sleeping in my Focus two or three nights a week again; does that make it a tiny RV? For fuck’s sake no one levels about any of this shit. For reasons that surely reflect badly on the local housing supply and the officials responsible for ensuring its adequacy, we’ve got a community not only living illegally in a farm junkyard but paying the landowner rent for a property that he refuses to properly maintain.

This is an abnormal and unhealthy situation, full stop. If Joe Dirtbag wanted to help these people out, he’d let them crash there for free, just as he did for Mixups in my Mind and Psychotarp. Instead, he hoses them for rent money, so he’s obviously in it for the black market cash flow. He and the Family Shrew got that electrician to rewire their house in exchange for the privilege to move into a garden shed in their front yard after he ran away from their career squatter just up the hill, the paranoid Boomer who has held down something like four months of payroll work in his entire life and has apparently spent the bulk of his sixties tinkering with perpetual motion machines based on fruitcake prepper videos he finds on YouTube. The electrician did this unpaid work on an out-of-state license, meaning that JD and FS will hit my parents up for money to repair or replace their house if their insurance company refuses to pay for fire damage on account of the unlicensed electrical work.

We’re all dysfunctional and disreputable to tolerate this horseshit. I’ve repeatedly failed myself and everyone else who has fallen victim to this shady crap by not doing everything I can to force an end to it. The Insurance Schmuck aptly compared JD to the Master of the House from Les Miserables. JD can be disarmingly charming and chummy with those who don’t challenge him, but if anyone gets into a bad housing situation under his authority and becomes disgruntled, he turns immediately to bog-standard slumlord intimidation tactics. I’m not the only one who knows that he’ll turn ugly on a dime if anyone stands up to him for being a deadbeat or housing paying tenants in illegal squalor.

What I’m trying to do with the rescue weeding jobs, then, is to get the farm into something resembling turnkey condition for when Joe Dirtbag either dies or becomes too decrepit to operate it. I don’t know what the hell I’ll do about the rent extortion, tenant harassment, implicit but unmistakable menacing, and squalor in the meantime. It’s a fucking hellscape. It looks like I’ll have a war on my hands if I try to force him to abide by the law. My dad is petrified that JD will go scorched-earth on their relationship if he follows through on his attorney’s advice and removes himself and my mom as farm investors. I’ve very seriously considered going to the District Attorney’s office, various police agencies, local elected officials, and the local newspapers. If I decide to really cross the Rubicon, I can blow that seedy bastard clear out of the water. I’m still ready to call 911 on him if he gets weird or hostile with me again. If he so enjoys manly showdowns, I don’t see why he can’t have one with a policeman, or with whatever ladies of the law happen to be on duty.

Mind you, all of this is happening in a fairly prosperous part of an exceptionally well-governed state. I’m deliberately coy about where exactly, but that’s really just so that those who might use this stuff against me will have a harder time proving anything. I’m not sure that there are even two dozen people I’d rather keep in the dark about what I’ve written here. And I’m not even really stirring the shit up: I’ve been unreasonably forbearing towards Joe Dirtbag for having only gotten code officials onto his property to bitchslap his deadbeat ass and not having gone on the record to publicly blow the whistle.

This clusterfuck has brought the local socioeconomic situation into rather ugly relief for me. When I first came here, I was downwardly mobile but stably housed. Now I’ve been homeless for years due to the extreme white trash dysfunction and shadiness of relatives who get moneyed friends and relatives to bail them out whenever they fuck up, and I take a financial and social hit every time I come back here to do some more work reclaiming parts of the grossly mismanaged farm that I’m helping fund at a time when I haven’t had a stable place of my own in six years. This isn’t highly skilled work, but it isn’t unskilled, either. I’m able to get shit done because I pay attention and know what I’m doing with plants. I have no difficulty focusing on heavy weeding jobs that would either bore or overwhelm many of my friends. That is, I’m not like Busboy or any of the incorrigible transient losers who hang out downtown using dogs as panhandling props. It’s productive, upstanding work, and I should not be regarded as a ne’er-do-well when I get in there without complaint or prompting and fucking do it. I do this work even though the principal farm operator is out of his damn mind to the point that I’m estranged from him and has bullshit excuses for why he supposedly meant to abandon the vine rows that I’ve been reclaiming.

Meanwhile, someone, probably either Joe Dirtbag or the Ragin’ Canajun, has left well over half a ton of pumpkins in a field to rot. At this point I’ve got plenty of patience for RC to get overwhelmed by his workload and none left for JD. JD’s the one who’s always talking about groovy community shit. He and the Family Shrew are the ones who are all into people helping people, which in this case apparently doesn’t include anyone getting into the field to keep hundreds of pumpkins from going to waste. The pumpkins have usually been JD’s thing, not RC’s, for what it’s worth. He can’t get the crops in for a number of reasons, most of them decisively his fault. He never pays anyone for heavy labor, doesn’t provide a decent toilet, arbitrarily harasses people when they’re working for him at his explicit request, and gives shady deadbeats like Captain Flimflam and clinically insane al fresco outpatients like Psychotarp and Mixups the run of the farm no matter how many times tenants or school group organizers have begged him to do something about them.

I believe RC when he says that JD has shot his credibility with the local labor pool and isn’t the beloved community grandpa that he thinks he is. All he’s got now is the Ragin’ Canajun plus a handful of marginal losers and cheapskates living on his properties. As far as I know he’s been on his own for harvest and crush this year, and frankly I hope that’s actually the case, because he damn well deserves to go shorthanded.

Volunteerism has gone too far around here. We’ve got too many earnest dipshits running around trying to do good when they should be demanding a fucking paycheck as a condition of their showing up. Just today I saw a group of mostly teenagers removing blackberries along some creekbanks. That’s worthy enough work, so why the fuck isn’t the city paying a crew a market wage to pull the damn weeds, which were located on city property? Then there’s the charity woodlot that Joe Dirtbag has allowed to set up shop on a carveout parcel on the edge of his farm, which also had a work bee going this morning. I’ve never seen such fucked up, waterlogged, rotten, useless firewood as the loads JD gave me from the charity lot to use in the winery stove. No one with a shred of sense would pay $80 a cord for that shit.

That’s how the valley gets such bad winter air quality, by the way. Having a bunch of drugstore homesteaders burning wood for frivolous lifestyle purposes doesn’t help, either, but using properly seasoned firewood or pellets in a hot stove cuts down on the amount of soot that’s available to settle in during air inversions. The garbage wood the charity lot somehow finds burns dirty as all hell. The worst chunks are almost as noxious as burning leaves, that classic Pennsylvania asshole falltime tradition.

The government could step into the fray and eliminate the need for this sopping-wet horseshit wood supply by buying some five-dollar bags of wood pellets on a bulk discount and giving them away to poor households on demand. Instead we have a bunch of earnest assholes who know jack shit about firewood out swinging axes all morning because belching the most toxic biomass smoke possible into a stagnant air supply is woke praxis now.

NB: I’m not against providing the poor with free firewood. It’s just that this shit is the equivalent of handing out day-old baloney sandwiches to the poor and pointing out that the mustard is a vegetable. Anyone who isn’t either an idiot or a scumbag can do better than that. These assholes with the woodlot are assuming a completely bogus scarcity mentality. If I can buy high-quality, low-soot stove pellets for five or six dollars a bag at Bi-Mart, what the hell is forcing them to hand out shitty, high-soot firewood that won’t burn properly to the poor and then feel smug all week? I would never offer that shit to someone for use as a fuel supply because I was offended and annoyed when Joe Dirtbag gave me the load that he’d schnorred off the woodlot fuckheads.

Did Tocqueville curse us by chronicling us? Handing out piles of barely combustible charity wood to the poor might have been an advancement in human development in Kentucky in 1835, but it isn’t exactly 1835, and I notice that Oregon is not a part of Kentucky. Hell, any self-respecting Appalachian woodsman would own the shit out of that clown crew for not knowing how to properly hew and season its rounds. Volunteerism and charity can theoretically do some good, but we don’t ask nearly often enough how many of our voluntary and charitable organizations are worth Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift. Hey there, American Red Cross!

Nah, that medley of showboating thieves is in it for the money, and there’s a measure of self-respect to be had in running a successful con. I hate to find a group that I respect even less for its charity than the Red Cross, but here we are. If the woodlot posse tried to take my blood, I’d be about as well off having Lynn Majors do the sexy deed.

We’ve got a real problem in this country with being too earnest and cowardly to tell worse-than-useless showboating do-gooders that they’d be less trouble for the rest of us if they spent the morning recreationally heaving logs over a fence. That would be stupid enough, too, but we wouldn’t have to worry about the effects on air quality. And the idea that that charitable happy horseshit is an adequate substitute for government social services is pernicious. When government works, it really is a word for the things we choose to do together. I’m already paying taxes (yes, in Oregon, too), so I’d rather see the money go to pay people decent wages to do decent work than get wasted on nonsense while the workload gets sloughed off onto earnest pushovers, most of whom are utterly fucking clueless and harder for a competent person to supervise than to personally do the damn work.

What I’ve been doing at the farm this week isn’t volunteerism, because I’m done with that shit. It’s work aimed at someday, somehow cashing out. Gonna make it right, but not right now. But at least we got Kroeger down here for the ceremonies and not Pickton, since we already have Picktonian squalor to abate. That’s why I’m involved again with this crypto-Benedictine agricultural discipline that sure enough isn’t getting me laid (you get what you pay for, as they say). That, plus I have a travel schedule this winter that isn’t compatible with the overmanaged institutional nonsense that we like to call work. Psychotarp might be able to remotely join a wedding party in Pittsburgh while working a retail job in Sacramento or whatever, but we can’t all be that special.

Nah, that’s not true. He’s too crazy to shovel gravel into a pothole. Then again, we’ve got sane people around here who aren’t good for a hell of a lot more than that.