Deplorable Third World shithole discourse

It’s curious that what really set off the mainstream news media about Donald Trump, what caused them to grow a backbone, stand the hell up, and utter the unutterable on air, was a contemptuous, modestly foulmouthed tirade about a number of dysfunctional foreign countries and the denigration of their citizens by association with them. I don’t know what all to read into this fight. It’s certainly being fought by people who are neither principled nor thoughtful, on both sides (many sides!), but it’s in the nature of chronic exposure to offensive, oppressive, or just unpleasant behavior that the last straw isn’t necessarily the most egregious incident in the pattern. This thing is a standoff, and standoffs do not unfold rationally or predictably. They’re dynamic. They hit unexpected flashpoints out of the blue.

Did the outraged journalists who are so upset by Trump’s crude language about foreigners get into their particular extreme outrage over his rude comments about foreigners and their home countries because they value foreign countries and the interests of their citizens above the United States and the interests of Americans? That’s probably part of it on some vague level, but they’ve also gotten worked into a special lather about Donald Trump’s nativist sentiments specifically. They were much more circumspect when Barack Obama mercilessly deported millions of illegal aliens and aerially immolated foreigners and Americans alike in gross military violations of other nations’ sovereignty, on the basis that the targets of these assassinations were outlaws. Explicit nativism has been coded as downmarket for decades, long before Trump became its poster boy, and now that he’s in high office, over the strenuous sworn wishes of a bipartisan incumbent political establishment, he makes an excellent scapegoat for anyone who wants to smear all nativism, nationalism, and parochial concern for the welfare of America or Americans as the most unspeakable vulgarity.

Trump’s shithole comments, although not really egregious by his own prevailing standards, were gross and vapid, evidence of a very real meanness of spirit and crudity of mind. The loudest parties calling him out for speaking so crudely have awfully little moral credibility themselves, but as I’ve discussed before, he ultimately serves at the pleasure of Congress, because Congress ultimately determines what is and is not impeachable. They may be shitty assholes in their own right, but if the sense of their meeting is that he is terminally out of line to speak in that fashion in his official capacity, they can put his impertinent ass out on the curb with last week’s trash. The Constitution does not dictate that the President has the inalienable right to offend and alarm members of Congress with absolute impunity by indulging in gratuitously vicious insults at will in a manner that calls into question his moral and mental fitness for office. The 25th Amendment is ultimately a redundancy. A critical mass of the legislature can decide that even if the president isn’t blatantly senile, his language sounds close enough to senile disinhibition and is enough of a national embarrassment and obstruction to good governance to justify his removal from office.

For similar reasons Congress has the prerogative to remove Trump from office for being a Nazi sympathizer. There is ample, although mostly circumstantial, evidence that he sides with Nazis and fellow-traveling white supremacist thugs when they engage in violent domestic insurrections resulting in injury and death. Congress does not have a duty to tolerate a president who sympathizes with perpetrators of organized communal violence. This is an example of the political and civic dysfunction that has enabled Donald Trump and his allies in their worst behavior and allowed them, surreally, to claim the moral high ground. There’s no credible principle under which it’s completely beyond the pale to denigrate other countries and encourage restrictions on the immigration of their citizens to the United States but basically acceptable, if one can withstand a weekend tongue-lashing, to use the bully pulpit to cover for violent domestic insurrectionists who are trying to start a race war. This kind of shit is hits the international wire services as a pretty big scandal when it happens in India because it is, in fact, a big deal. Our legislators have no duty to allow colleagues or executives whose removal they are constitutionally allowed to seek to flippantly court similar bloodshed in the United States. They don’t need to tolerate Klan revanchism.

They do tolerate it because they secretly, or not so secretly, sympathize with it. There are a whole lot of neo-eugenicist Randian creeps slithering around in Congress and our statehouses, mainly in the GOP, who support violent white supremacy and the top-down class warfare that traditionally goes with it. They dare not say so because it would be scandalous and they’d soon lose their offices one way or another, but implicit support for heinous, bigoted policies rarely costs them anything. On the bright side, it did help Gadsden Lovin’ barely lose his bid for the US Senate, but that was at a time when he’d just been exposed as a mall-cruising sex pest.

We could do to be hesitant in our campaigns to fix other countries when our own is such a fucking disaster. The rot goes much deeper and wider than projectile sexual repression, even if we have a special national tradition of sexual hypocrisy corrupting the law. It’s popular on the woke left to complain that the term “Third World” has a seedy history as a construct of the intelligence services and is an insult to beleaguered poor countries in the Global South. It’s certainly used as a slur in some quarters, but so are many other terms, many of them much nastier. “Third World” and “First World” are odd artifacts of the Cold War, especially in the absence of “Second World” from the popular lexicon. That was the classification of Commieworld: Red China, Red Russia, superficially red Poland, etc., but nobody today seems to have a clue what it means or that it even exists. In popular usage, First and Third World have been adopted as shorthand terms for socioeconomic and human development levels at the extremes.

This is awfully Wow Very Explain, but it’s pertinent. The idea is that we, the First World, have our shit together and they, the Third World, are the shitholes. It’s a crude classification that paints over a lot of nuances, but unlike so many political terms, the meanings are universally understood. These terms are not at all like “conservative” or “liberal,” whose meanings have been bastardized to impenetrable hell. Everyone knows what they mean.

The moral posturing over this shit is as inevitable as it is insufferable, but it’s worth climbing above the fray and thinking about what it takes for a society to move from the Third World into the First or, tragically, from the First into the Third. It’s perfectly manageable to recognize that Nigeria is a third-world country with serious enduring problems of governance and human development while also recognizing that it’s been the scene of chronic colonial pillaging followed by decades of post-colonial official corruption at the hands of its native elites. This is a shitty situation for any country to face and a tall order for civil society organizations and political newcomers to reform, and Nigerian reformers complain bitterly about it.

It’s sensible, then, to cut a society some extra slack on moral judgment if its recent history revolves around some combination of civil war, foreign military invasion, coups d’état, colonial expropriation, genocide, pervasive official corruption, and collapse of national sovereignty into a failed state. These are terrible conditions, and the responsible parties absolutely should be held to account for them, but they’re mostly beyond the capacity of private citizens to prevent, and the recovery afterwards can be slow and difficult. Ordinary Somali fishermen weren’t pleased with their government for deteriorating to the point that it stopped deploying a coast guard. They weren’t thinking, oh, cool, this means that we can go launch high-risk pirate raids on Western ships whose crews will try either to kill us or have us extradited for trial in countries we’ve never visited instead of fishing for a living. Sure, Somalia has become prime territory for gang thugs and religiously preoccupied tyrants, some real bad dudes, but it’s funny that the piracy got going in earnest after the government collapsed, sovereignty over Somalia fractured into an incoherent mess of warring military commands, and Western trawlers strip-mined the entire offshore water column in the midst of the chaos on shore.

It says something else entirely when a prosperous, well-governed beacon of the First World descends into gathering third-world squalor and misgovernment because its politics have fallen into the vise grip of decadent narcissists. That’s what we have in the United States. We haven’t failed to climb out of national poverty and dysfunction; we’ve deliberately squandered an inherited regime of exceptional prosperity, good government, and equity in pursuit of the most vicious, destructive forms of unfair personal and factional advantage over others. This is one of the most damning things any society has ever done to itself.

For two generations or so, we achieved a series of belated, incremental reforms: Social Security, Medicare, the Depression-era employment programs, Eisenhower’s genuinely conservative stewardship of what his predecessors had won at such great effort and under such harrowing circumstances, the Civil Rights Act, the Great Society, the Church Commission. Then, after the well-meaning ineptitude of the Carter Administration, greatly exaggerated by a shrill opposition, we elected a reactionary TV blowhard to spend eight years throwing it all into the dumpster while we pretended that he wasn’t sundowning on live TV. But Goodnight Simi Valley was just one of the more prominent public faces of the problem. Reaganism enjoyed significant popular support from what was increasingly turning into a nation of sellouts. Not seeing any threats from this irresponsibility on the horizon, we spent most of the subsequent three decades, up to the present day, slouching into a progressive dereliction of responsibility. At one point, Social Security was saved by Monica Lewinsky, the Forrest Gump of starfucking sluts. The angel with the blue dress, blue dress on did not, unfortunately, save Glass-Steagall, and we still haven’t entirely recovered from the delayed-action destruction that her boy Slick Willie’s deal with the banks caused not just the national but the international economy starting in 2007-08.

We now have, not for the first time, a comprehensively corrupt national leadership. Bernie Sanders, one of the few more or less clean politicians to run for the presidency, got ratfucked in his own party primary at the direction of the Clinton machine, which was as insatiable as ever at the prospect of foreign bribes to its “charitable” foundations. The Trump organization strives for even less plausible deniability about why federal agencies and various parties with business before the federal government pay so much rent to its chain of very expensive hotels, resorts, and apartment towers. Bizarrely, from some angles Trump seems to anger the incumbent government grafter set precisely because he is NOT as corruptible as themselves, i.e., by possibly following through on the blustery campaign promises he made to dispossessed blue-collar constituencies.

We got here because our national character went to hell. That much was our doing. We put crooks into Congress and the White House for decades. A critical mass of the public, including more than its share of reliable voters, sold out to be yuppies, social consequences be damned. Christopher Lasch sounded a bit shrill and catastrophic at the time, but he was right about the elites going into a state of revolt against their host society. It is absolutely true that they, as a group, moved to rob and dispossess everyone more vulnerable than themselves, and to justify these depredations.

One of the scary things I’ve noticed is that the upper middle class and above have been able to so shelter themselves that they are able to secede from the national reality that the rest of their society is forced to live on a daily basis. All they have to do is listen to mainstream, politically correct sources that happen to be crooked and full of shit and shut out any dissenting voices that show up in their social media feeds. This helps explain a number of people who have defriended me on Facebook. There are certain cases in which I know full well that I got shut out for being an ass for no good reason, but in a number of others it’s uncanny that I got blocked by people whose precious personal brands of earnest striving and self-censorship were inherently incompatible with my insistence on not polishing turds for free on a platform that is mine and mine alone to control.

The implications of this ability to selectively silence dissenting voices on a platform that is expressly designed to maintain indiscriminately broad social ties are fucking scary. I try not to dwell on this situation, but it’s potentially dire. It’s already drawing people with some of the highest formal educational attainment in the country into a state of mind that is functionally psychotic. I’m not kidding or being figurative. Hanging out at a bus stop in Inglewood all afternoon and speculating that the planes overhead may be headed for a different universe than LAX is much, much more deranged and dangerous than erroneously believing that one’s country does not have problems with unemployment or poverty. Nobody gets hurt when another A340 plunges into the wormhole of some al fresco nutjob’s febrile mind; that joystick-controlled Eurotrash ship still lands, and homeboy goes down separately, without it. If drug addiction is assumed to be the only reason why anyone in the United States has trouble finding housing or work, that’s a serious fucking failure of engagement with reality that will almost certainly have degrading social effects. When that sort of scurrilous horseshit is believed by voters who can’t imagine that anyone at their investment bank has a problem with alcohol or cocaine, the very worldview that drives these winners is a dangerous full frontal attack on equity and the rule of law.

The problem isn’t that we have crazy people on the loose; it’s that we’re governed by people who are batshit insane and protected by overpowering social conventions under the auspices of powerful siloing technology from all criticism. The Insurance Schmuck’s ex-fiancée, for example, has clearly gone off the deep end in bougie crazytown since she moved to San Diego. I wasn’t nearly so naïve to fly out there in a madcap effort to join the police force. It’s inconceivable that this chick has any fucking idea how socioeconomically mainstream people five miles away from her neighborhood live, let alone the teeming horde of godforsaken homeless downtown. She’s too busy posting Instagram photos of her waterfront yoga routines in Pacific Beach (shit, Brando, you’re losing the girth war) and New Year’s Eve poolside with her current boyfriend in Cabo.

I’m braced for this chick to go full fash. That she hasn’t overtly done so is probably a function of cues she’s picked up that MAGA agitation is downscale. She obviously assumes that she’s safe from whatever horrors the bad parts of our government are scheming to inflict on their constituents because she’s a cute, peppy blonde from a nice family in CB East and Kwesi Millington for Sheriff. Put Robinson in a shabbier red top and a Jeep, and see if he survives a watch on beach patrol. Seriously, this chick is headed for overt hardcore reaction with a side of Paltrowan gobbledygook, but hey, Hitler, her fellow dog fancier, was into the health foods, too. #MeatlessMuscle.

Homeskillet could have been formed into a political worldview magnanimous enough not to make me wonder who will be up to launch the foreign military invasion once we go into irreversible authoritarian overdrive, but the Insurance Schmuck’s politics were only marginally less dangerous than her own, and even though he liked to be a domineering alpha asshole in his relationships, especially back then, this forcefulness rarely extended to checking a peppy rich girl’s privilege. He thought that kind of thing was cute and arousing. As I said, these people are goddamn dangerous.

Actually, on second thought, she probably didn’t vote for Trump because she has a Facebook cover photo of that fucking little girl statue in front of the Wall Street bull. She’s into feminist fascism, you see. I’m sure she could lead me into an unfathomable world of hypocritical incoherence, a new frontier of Lean In girl power, fainting submission to the nearest preppy hunk with enough cash or credit to wine and dine m’lady in proper Baja style, and structural Betty Shelby.

This chick’s worldview somehow bothers me more than Melissa Ann Shepard. Now that’s some toxic femininity. But Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes never killed a man without courting him first. All a fellow has to do to survive her is to dump out the fucking coffee and/or flag down a Halifax policewoman because she’s back on her internet bullshit again. Yeah, there’s the serial fraud thing, but there are insurance policies against some QEII-looking creepy bitch draining one’s bank account dry. Not the only thing she drained dry, AM I RIGHT, GENTLEMEN. There aren’t insurance policies against the engagement of Fifty Shades-vulnerable dipshit daddy’s girls showing up to vote their fellow citizens into abject penury or indulge in paranoid delusions about the local color on Nextdoor. That much takes a degree of civic vigilance whose energy requirements far exceed anything I’ve expended on canucksploitative shitposting. God help us, but Monty the Mountie’s Motorcar is the least of our worries. Saucin’ in Tsawwassen was never why I ended up sleeping in my car on a regular basis. I can’t say that about some of the people I knew in school.

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A further inducement to perform sweet oral romance upon my balls, Tate

Good grief, this sounds like a lifestyle fit for Oral Roberts University, where one is sternly admonished in the name of the Lord to cease the oral, Roberts, and be chaste. So help me, that’s a real university. This stuff can be impossible to make up.

In the course of banging out (heh) my screed about NPR going to Muncie to yuk it up with the local business elite and make an ass of everyone involved, I forgot to mention my closest personal connection to Muncie, not a close or direct connection but still one seedy enough to merit a dedicated discussion of how academia can turn on a dime into a total shitshow and there’s no reason to move to Indiana just to act like that.

This fuckhead was a religion professor whose course I was taking exclusively to fill a ridiculous, intellectually meritless distribution requirement. He was on a two-year contract to cover for a tenured professor who had been sent overseas to run one of Dickinson’s study abroad programs. By every account I heard the tenured prof was either respected or beloved, but academic service (#ThankYouForYourService) had required him to fly thousands of miles away for some Year in Provence shit, and this guy they’d hired to replace him was a fucking lemon. There were all of nine or eleven of us enrolled in the class, and he had us sit in a fucking circle for excruciating roundtable discussions of reading assignments that all but one or, on a good day, three had completed (not me, because they sucked ass), getting increasingly impatient and hostile with us when he realized that we didn’t know what the fuck we were supposed to talk about because we hadn’t done the work.

In spite of our recalcitrance when ordered to read terribly written academic literature about obscure religious imagery and history when most of us didn’t know shit from Shinola about the general cultural context of what we were “studying,” this inept asshole was either unable or unwilling to change the class format to anything resembling an impromptu lecture whenever it became clear that we were hopeless to handle our end of an halfway informed discussion. Every time I stepped into that cursed classroom, I assumed that this asshole was going to get hostile with us again, and as a rule of thumb he did.

Most people would walk out of a free evening class at the public library if it were run anything like that. It was a clusterfuck. With its idyllic setting on the main quad, in the hallowed limestone halls under the mighty shade oaks, it inspired wishes for Sherman to come back to life and burn down New England. Sure, this was happening in the Pennsylvania we never found, but there was no reason not to start the festivities of warmth in the Heart of Whiteness. We’d gotten stuck in an art house film from hell week after week, and it was obvious that not only this emotionally volatile shithead of a professor but everyone involved in approving his course and suggesting it as a distribution requirement (somehow three-in-one for my purposes) was beyond redemption. The very existence of this godforsaken class was an indictment of the residential liberal arts model. We were not going to become educated by showing up like whipped little bitches two or three times a week to have this whiny, sanctimonious, hostile piece of shit insult our academic fitness until he felt the faint, transient calling to fucking teach us something. Neither were we going to walk away uneducated for not having put up with this shit.

Since this was college, and our parents were effectively paying several thousand dollars per capita for us to be verbally abused by this dipshit we would have abandoned like hot garbage if we’d come across him hosting a free walk-in Q&A at Barnes & Noble with that attitude, we had writing assignments, too. I barely gave a shit about the first one, so I half-assed it. This asshat told me to see him in his office after he’d graded our papers, and against my better judgment I complied. He pulled mine out, waved it at me almost violently, and barked, “What the fuck is this?” I mumbled some shit, barely trying to defend myself, and he barked some more insults at me to the effect that I was a fuckup and he didn’t want to see that again and that’s why he’d given me 7/20.

Again, I was not the one who complained to him about his giving me a poor grade; it was he who menacingly confronted me about the failing grade he’d issued. I was stunned, hurt, and, although I tried to conceal it, quite angry. That was a completely unacceptable way to treat a student. I would have cut him some slack if he’d gotten worked up and cursed out a student who had just barged into his office to demand a passing grade for failing work, and I would have been fine with him getting hostile with a parent for choppering in to demand a good grade for precious Taylor’s shitty work. That is not what fucking happened. I have never in my life even calmly asked a teacher to consider revising a grade upward. If I’d had reason to believe that I’d been given an unfairly low grade I might have considered protesting, but from ninth grade onward I never had any suspicions that an instructor was sabotaging me or anyone else. What happened was that this motherfucker summoned me into a small room away from witnesses and screamed bloody murder at me for fucking up a completely pointless undergraduate writing assignment. Did I care what devotion to the minor Hindu gods meant to some Swedish blowhard whose writing would have put you to sleep as well? Hell no. Did I give a shit that I’d scored 7/20 for not giving a shit, instead of 5 or 10 or 12? Again, not a fucking chance. It hurt a tiny bit for a few seconds, but I knew that I’d spent too much time on that dumbass paper, not too little.

What complicated things for me was that by the time this bumptious, out-of-control piece of shit called me into his office to bark his word at me, the withdrawal period had already passed. Dickinson’s academic rules dictated that I was stuck in that course, and I didn’t see how I’d be able to convince anyone in the administration to waive the rules. I’d considered withdrawing in the first two weeks, when it was already clear that the quality of instruction was abysmal and the professor’s tone towards us routinely unprofessional, but I was eager to get the three-in-one distribution requirement out of the way, I’d never withdrawn from a course, and the roundtables, as excruciating as they were, didn’t seem egregious enough to stop attending when the upside for completing the course was so big. I did not have the nerve to complain to anyone else in the department or the administration that this guy was a hopeless instructor with no ability to keep his course on track for ten minutes. They were going to be rid of him at the end of the academic year regardless.

A professor calling me into his office to start a shouting match with me because he was mortally insulted by my having half-assed a five-page research assignment was egregious enough to complain, but I let myself get intimidated. The provost’s office probably would have dismissed me as a snowflake if I’d merely told them that a professor had made me uncomfortable, but I would have had leverage over them if I’d filed a police report, filed suit against the professor, or had him and the school officials with supervisory authority over him served with a cease-and-desist letter from an attorney demanding that he never raise his voice at me or demand to speak to me in private again. I probably could have sued the school into allowing me to withdraw from the course, the rules be damned, not because this guy was kind of a jerk but because he had become out of control in a private meeting that he had called for the purpose of verbally abusing me. No college administration wants to get exposed in open court over something like that.

There’s a good chance I could have gotten this dipshit fired, too, not just on account of my own he-said-he-said allegations but by prompting an administrative review of the prof’s teaching history, which might have shown that his courses were train wrecks and he routinely failed to behave appropriately around students. His yelling might have been barely justifiable coming from a professor who had already been mentoring me in some fashion, but homeboy wasn’t doing that. I’d never taken a class with him before, was not majoring or minoring in his department, and did not have an established academic relationship with any other professors in his department. It was not his place to say, oh, come on, I’m only saying these things because I keah about you, because I’m yaw stehyaff seahgeant, Mahky Mahk! Feeling salty about a student one barely knows turning in a shitty paper for a class he’s taking for a distribution requirement does not excuse ordering the student to come into one’s office for a foulmouthed, hostile, menacing shouting fit. That’s all there is to it.

Just because parents and students complain about rigorous grading and other petty academic gripes too often doesn’t mean that they don’t complain about serious grievances often enough. There’s a lot of bad behavior lurking barely under the surface in academia. It doesn’t just involve professors or their academic departments, and it encompasses a hell of a lot more than just salacious sexual outbursts.

Dickinson College Residential Life was a slumlording clusterfuck in its own right when I was there. It’s become popular to complain about colleges spending too much money on luxury housing for their students, but Dickinson more often made incompatible roommates shack up in conditions verging on the squalid. Circa 2003, it tried to make light of something that it called the “Morgan Crunch,” when Admissions fucked up its guess of how many accepted students would matriculate and Res Life made a number of students triple up in double rooms in Morgan Hall. The reasonable response of both students and parents to a mess like that would have been to tell the school to go to hell for the rest of the academic year and get back in touch if it lined up adequate dormitory space. Instead, everything I heard from classmates sided with the school, like, oh, it was just a well-meaning goof and besides, it was a great bonding experience. “I Survived the Morgan Crunch!” Yeah, and I survived a night at the Motel Six over by the Turnpike and another night on a couch at the Delta Sig house because the creep I’d been assigned as a roommate was showing above-baseline violent ideation whenever we were both in the room.

Nobody had any reason to trust or count on the derelicts who ran that clown show. Ultimately, that was just more cult brainwashing. If a prestigious liberal arts college is too disorganized to provide minimally adequate dorm space, which would arguably be uninhabitable under any other auspices other than a prison, and also fails to line up enough off-campus housing to fill the shortage that it caused by its own ineptitude, that’s obviously just a lovable institutional foible, not cause to sue for the reimbursement of all rent payments made to date and release from all outstanding financial liability for the remainder of the academic year. After all, only a whipped little bitch would tolerate anything of the sort from any other landlord.

Hey there.

What I ultimately did in response to that hotheaded religion professor’s tirade was half-assed and mostly disreputable. I continued to go to class, entirely because one of the other students was one of the Insurance Schmuck’s abrasive lunch buddies and I didn’t want to explain the mess to him, but I resolved never to do another word of writing for that class, and that, at least, is one resolution that I fucking kept. That motherfucker hadn’t had the self-control to show me a lick of civility or orderliness for the five or ten minutes that my shitty work had possibly been on the agenda, almost all of that time his sole doing, so I damn well wasn’t about to give him another opportunity to disrespect my efforts to do the intellectually and emotionally deadening busywork that he kept assigning us. That is, I deliberately failed his course for the purpose of setting some minimal boundaries with him. I don’t think I ever told anyone about what I did or why.

To wax all terminally Paul Harvey on a cracker, this out-of-control fuckjob with the projectile midlife crisis left his temp job at Dickinson for a tenure-track position at Ball State. That’s what the mutual lunch buddy told me. He seemed to regard that as a good explanation for everything that was wrong with our professor and his wasted life. And now you know PART of the REST of the STORY.

I felt just a bit bad for this shithead because he was from Los Angeles, and I hated the idea of a fellow Californian being forced to bounce around from shithole to shithole back east in pursuit of a desultory, unrelentingly bleak academic career. Just a bit, though. I enjoy meeting the California diaspora when I’m out of state, but not if they’re just a bunch of frustrated assholes who take out their existential anger on whoever is within yelling distance. Besides, it was his own damn problem if he didn’t like chasing mediocre academic appointments around the country in a series of unsettling backwaters in Appalachia and the Midwest. Nurse Majors was born in a small town, I was raised in a different small town, and you never know when one of these stories will get suddenly sexy in a third small town, such as Red Bluff. That’s right: I slept in my car again last night, but I slept in my car in the fucking promised land. And my parents paid a lot more per diem for me to be verbally abused by a wandering Angeleno whose doppelganger and spirit animal patrols Manayunk for the Philadelphia Police Department (true story) than they’re paying for me to camp out in my Focus under the savanna oaks.

The REST of the REST of the STORY is that academia is a disgrace too deep and intractable to be believed if you haven’t laid eyes on it. GO DIPLOMATS!

 

Siraj and Me

When I saw lefty Twitter elements telling Siraj Hashmi to get fucked for dissing Chelsea Manning, I thought, gee, I think I may know that guy, and then, holy shit, I think I went to school with him. I didn’t recognize his picture, but the name is awfully unusual, and sure enough, it’s the same dude.

My first reaction upon confirming this was to hate Dickinson College even more than usual. Of course our dear Dickerson Collitch was sending meritocratic hotshots to the imperial center to enforce Democratic Party orthodoxy on Ben Cardin’s behalf for a living. *MY OLD SCHOOL* really is a hidden Ivy.

I didn’t exactly know Siraj, but I knew who he was, and by Facebook’s count alone, we have dozens of friends (“friends”) in common. But knowing most of these people is absolutely fucking useless. Learning that yet another social climber I often saw around campus gets a byline to drag primary challengers who threaten the incumbencies of elected officials who feel entitled to their jobs didn’t make me wonder why the hell I’m scavenging deposit bottles for the pocket change (duh: the money), but why in God’s name I can’t get payroll employment and decent housing on demand. No one pays tuition to a bumptious school like Dickinson on the suspicion that the completion of its coursework and receipt of its diploma won’t be a safeguard against unemployment and homelessness. It really is that simple; shove the talk of individual meritocratic pluck back up your ass if you disagree.

It isn’t just the amount of money that that school’s graceless, ungrateful administration hoovers up from all possible directions: I also knew far too many people with overt psychiatric or substance abuse problems that were serious enough to call into question their employability, and as far as I can tell the vast majority of them are gainfully employed, usually in prestigious positions. There’s something other than meritocracy at play when dozens of people who consistently acted like they were on course to end up drifting between rehab programs, psych wards, and SRO’s on the Bowery instead end up living in nice apartments in nice parts of our most expensive cities and holding down well-paid, stable, professional (sic, ish) jobs. So help me, I am not the only dysfunctional graduate among the people I knew there, or the most dysfunctional, and I’m sure in retrospect that there in fact was a great deal of coke drifting around campus, even though I only recall hearing about other drugs (mostly pot, hash, and shrooms). I say this because Dickinson enrolls and duly barfs back out exactly the class of entitled, belligerently grandiose prep-ass shitheads who drive cocaine demand worldwide.

Okay, not so much in interior BC; that disgraced Mountie sarge from the public information office at the Kamloops detachment wasn’t all about selling that base to investment bankers. That market figures, why buy crack already baked when you can bake your own at home, like Papa Murphy’s? *Sloppy second opinion from Rob Ford incoming* Because by the time you’re ready to smoke some crack, you’re too fucking blacked-out drunk to cook shit. I mean, I don’t see why else I’d smoke crack. Do you guys smoke that shit when you’re sober? Jesus Christ, Lillooet must be a shithole.

Cool, the one word that I was awake enough to hear Scott Simon utter on air over the weekend and still remember after I properly woke up. #StayWoke. Monty Robinson doesn’t need crack to commit perjury and DUI vehicular manslaughter. Here we go again; what a shock. I know most of you didn’t come here to rundel in the jungle; y’all are still here for that crap I wrote about Gulf Arab gents shitting on Western rent girls, and that’s gross. Not that I can dictate another man’s taste, of course. As my second-degree acquaintance Taylor Swift always says, haters gonna haidt; sheikh it off.

Surely you’ll be asking the Lord to have Mersey upon me if I force another Gerry and the Heartstoppers meme into this discourse. On this side of the 49th Parallel, it’s traditional for a man to take up fishing for his midlife crisis, so as much as I, SDPD reject and all, admire those who somehow get onto the force hella late in life (Chuck Quackenbush, too), I can’t help but question Fishy Horse’s judgment for going to Depot. No, that’s not true; it’s the recreational fishermen who are disturbed. None of this is to say that the RCMP isn’t a shitshow; it was having salacious sexual harassment scandals years ago, before that was cool, to the point of routinely sidelining disgruntled female constables on long-term disability at 100% pay because their corporals were assholes that the brass didn’t feel like disciplining. The RCM Buddy/Guy RC is a great agency for those who want to get paid to look dead sexy on a horse, then get paid to drink all day in their apartments and/or quietly wish that they were back on the island in chest waders, tugging on a big-ass net.

Dickinson graduates get paid for dumber, more useless shit than any of that. Hell, my parents live near Saratoga Springs, and Sauce Boss never did anything that ridiculous with a horse. That right there is the kind of thing that seems to happen to those who are blessed with discretionary income more than they are with sense. They dress up like Pride and Prejudice extras to go watch runts batter thoroughbreds with riding crops until they break their legs. It’s an elaborate mating ritual, and the eugenics aren’t just for the horses. It’s that feeling when one must court exclusively with those who are suitably white, or at least suitably White, so that those who marry into the family can afford their gambling problems. If you come across a bunch of inbred-looking mediocrities at the track, that’s probably why.

The asshats whose stranglehold on Maryland politics Chelsea Manning is trying to break have more of that hybrid vigor, but this doesn’t mean that they’re defensible. I’m guessing that the Pimlico crowd is Republican, which is just as well, since they’re just about the last constituency that the reputable parts of the Democratic base would want dictating the agenda.

The clarifying thing about shooing the Main Line trash off to the Republican Party was that it maintained a reasonably coherent adversarial relationship between a highbrow reactionary party and a lowbrow leftist party. It forced the affluent to admit that they were looking out for their own class interests, in case anyone was gullible enough to think that they were doing anything else. It limited the cognitive dissonance to have William F. Buckley squaring off against Cesar Chavez or what have you.

What we have today is a clusterfuck. The Democrats still swear that they’re looking out for the workingman, but Katie bar the fucking door against anyone who gets in the way of total yuppie aggrandizement. Then they wonder why the poor vote “against their interests,” since the Democratic Party is obviously defending the interests of laid-off miners and assembly line workers by catering obsequiously to MBA’s, corporate lawyers, and fellow-traveling SuperZIP desk jockeys. The poors must just be a bunch of ignorant,  uneducated religious zealots, certainly not attentive observers fed up with a party that insists on brownnosing every asshole who has ever tried to lay them off and then condescendingly blame them for being out of work.

The Democratic Party’s base in Maryland is said to be even worse: specifically, dominated by government workers. If these were just schoolteachers, yeomen running the region’s public works, and the like, it’d be fine, but what it really means is that the Democratic Party sucks up to every self-serious piece of shit who works for the NSA, along with every equally mentally disordered social climber who is attached in some capacity to Capitol Hill or the White House.

These are the worst government employees in the country. Only Virginia rivals Maryland for the low moral character of the residents it has working in and around government. This is why the Old Dominion has gone light purplish-blue: enough hangers-on in the functionally reactionary arms of the federal government have been convinced that the Democratic Party is the protector of their livelihoods and that their own welfare rises and falls with that of the alphabet soup of three-letter national security agencies to swing NoVa 60-40 or better in favor of Democratic candidates. That, and the Republicans have their thumbs up their asses on the regional traffic problem. Their increasing cultural affinity for the Democratic Party, though, is premised on the party being tacitly but fundamentally reactionary. They’re the imperial enforcer class. They aren’t about to get stoked for anyone who explicitly condemns the imperial order and implies that their jobs make them personally complicit in war crimes.

Hence all the dipshits this region sends to high office: Tim Kaine, Steny Hoyer, Ben Cardin. This list alone includes the weirdo who did jack shit for Hillary Clinton’s campaign except make her look bad by association with him, the gutless wonder who (along with Nancy Pelosi, because of course) forced Barack Obama to scuttle his plan to tax 529 college savings plans, as one does when one represents Affluenza Acres in Congress, and the tyrannically censorious shit ticket who wants to criminalize the BDS movement. That alone is reason enough to run Cardin out of Congress. He’s so eager to curry favor with the worst Jews on earth that he’s proposing to abrogate the US Constitution in fealty to a regional imperial power that, incidentally, once bombed a US naval ship, causing multiple casualties. I’m not exactly Jewish, but I’m Jewish enough to assert that this whole sick spectacle makes American Jewry look bad and that I will blame Ben Cardin if I ever catch blowback for it.

The way everyone involved in this movement for compulsory Zionism and fealty to whatever governments besides Israel’s are sloshing around in the garbage bag of official US allies is batshit fucking insane. Releasing video evidence of war crimes by US military personnel is treasonous, but moving to subvert the US Constitution on behalf of a foreign power is not. In what parallel civic universe is it acceptable to shitcan the First Amendment because a foreign government is butthurt about activists calling it out for human rights abuses? It would really be worthwhile to reinvigorate a Yiddish tradition of shanda smackdowns in this country, just so that troublemakers from AIPAC think twice before starting shit that makes other Jews and Semi-Semites look bad. No joke, I’d rather be ethnically associated with Harvey Weinstein; at least that way, I could point to Our Lord’s Servant Gerald and J. Denny Dundiddly as gentile concelebrants in the fellowship of the grope and the perv.

Siraj Hashmi trots out barely sourced anecdotes about how “some think” that Manning is a traitor who belongs in prison for the rest of his original term and shouldn’t have gotten hormone treatments for the purpose of sex reassignment behind bars. It’s no great accomplishment to find Beltway loudmouths who indulge in such gross fantasies of uninterrupted revenge, but why should the Democratic base tolerate, let alone cater to, this trash sack of bullies and hired thugs? This is extremely illiberal argumentation. A reasonable political alignment might include one major party with a bloodlust for carceral overdrive, but we already have the GOP for that, and that’s as good a place as any to shoo off anyone who tries to corrupt the decency of the Democratic Party with shitty bureaucratic revenge fantasies. I’d be quite happy for the Democrats not to contest the Republicans’ claim on depraved authoritarians and their heinous fantasies of incarcerating political prisoners for decades on end and punitively denying them medical care. That’s hateful, toxic garbage that no decent party should welcome.

“Some” “think” all sorts of crazy shit. This doesn’t mean that they deserve a platform for the normalization of their vicious lunatic notions. The guy on the LA subway the other week whom I had the beat cop go check in on thought that his daughter might be on the train and looked like he might lunge at any of our throats in his quest to find her. I’ve encountered other disturbed people who were muttering stories of blunt-force trauma to the knees or thought we all might be surrounded by portals to other dimensions. There’s no reason to give them a platform just because they have a story to tell. If a nutjob shows up with violent hallucinations and delusions of persecution, there’s no reason not to let him find his own audience, or to have patrol turf him out to the Hollywood Division if he won’t maintain an indoor voice and gait on the train.

We all ought to be as sensible about no-platforming equally disturbed political movements. A college education might be worth something if it taught the discernment between the decent and the indecent, the sane and the insane, and instilled the moral courage to call out disordered argumentation without fear or favor, but it wasn’t in college that I learned how to call out authority figures. As the half-cocked excuse for political science in the link shows, college didn’t do that for Siraj Hashmi, either. That’s a great example of what’s wrong with the selective objectivity of American journalism. We end up with the equivalent of soundbites from Kevin Vickers and Melissa Ann Shepard about whether or not it’s wrong to kill people for money and amusement. There’s no discernment of the bad from the good, and, so long as there’s a faction advancing it, no refusal to give a position a platform because it’s blatantly heinous.

The horserace concern-trolling has Hashmi all worked up about how omg Manning primarying Cardin might make deep-blue Maryland elect, if you’ll get this, a Republican. What, like Larry Hogan? LOL. Love too learn that a novice primary challenger is the reason why the Democratic Party may not have a stranglehold on statewide elected office in Maryland, as opposed to Maryland’s sitting Republican governor.

And if Manning spoils the election for some theoretical Republican? Boo fucking hoo. Cardin hasn’t alienated me to the extent that Hillary Clinton has, probably because ignorance is bliss, but he’s one US Senator out of 100, representing a state that has been exceptionally corrupted by some of the worst possible federal largesse. If that AIPAC-rimming dipshit is indispensable to the Democratic Congressional Caucus, the Democratic Party is screwed.

Besides, Cardin and the voters whose support he most cherishes are exactly the constituency that needs to be humiliated for the national good. We aren’t talking about an incrementalist moderate like Doug Jones running against the execrable Gadsden Lovin’, or Claire McCaskill, a Blue Dog embarrassment under normal circumstances, holding the line against a sexually superstitious religious zealot like Rep. Legitimate Rape. Don’t tell my heart, my akin breakin’ heart. We’re talking about a constitutionally transgressive blowhard running interference on behalf of a foreign government and representing a state where, in spite of the commanding lead that his party usually holds in statewide elections, his partisans are up in arms about how the party will be wrecked by a primary challenge, and he therefore deserves to proceed into the general election unopposed.

Already I like the idea of a Republican junior senator more than that of another six years of Ben Cardin. As a rule of thumb I prefer Democrats to Republicans, but I won’t mind losing one seat out of a hundred to punish these assholes for their boundless sense of entitlement. This is for the same reason that I enjoyed Trump as punishment, and still sometimes do. The people who get saltiest about these upsets are exactly those I want to see humiliated with a dose of their own medicine. If they throw a shit fit over the loss of “their” Senate seat in Maryland, I’ll just point and laugh.

It’s the same thing I would have done had Trump won Oregon or Vermont. The 2016 election was so dynamic, and the underlying sociology so unspeakably weird and unstable, that I thought he had a perceptible chance of carrying California. I didn’t consider twenty- or thirty-point swings in his favor from the professional polls to the electoral returns to be out of the question. In both Oregon and Vermont, I thought that the proud independence of the electorates might sink Hillary’s chances, with traditionally Democratic voters bristling violently at the dictatorial campaign to compel them to be #WithHer. Losing either Oregon or Vermont would have made the Democratic establishment shit bricks. That’s their territory, after all, and they weren’t ones to consider the possibility that it’s bad political strategy to demand the unbroken loyalty of a state whose very popular US Senator they just ratfucked out of a presidential nomination that he would have taken straight to a general election victory. Hell, even a one-state Bernie win in the general or a victorious cruise of the Stein Steamer down Lake Champlain would have been glorious, not just as a positive win but also as a way to pump up the beautiful Hillbot salt works.

Say what you will about my political judgment, but I think we came pretty close to something of the sort. Bernie didn’t win office in Vermont by barking, okay, listen up, you hayseed ingrates, I’m from Brooklyn and this is how we’re gonna do things. He got there and stayed there by having the humility to listen to people. Donald Trump got into office by sounding like he halfway understood the concerns of workaday Americans and maybe gave a damn, while Hillz lost the Rust Belt, Appalachia, and the entire election with her air of superiority. I was intellectually prepared to see her lose a number of solidly blue states by provoking a stealth male backlash against her feminazi grandstanding, along with Oregon and Vermont for being a carpetbagging city slicker who won’t stop telling her inferiors what to do.

In the end, the Donald didn’t win any states that no one was expecting him to win. He did just well enough at the margins in a bunch of swing states to carry the election without stealing any of the hardcore Democratic strongholds for the majestic offering of salt. That is, Democratic voters who were disgruntled with Hillary and her campaign turned out for her anyway. I bloody well didn’t, but quite a few did. She won decisively in many of the counties where Jill Stein did well. Conversely, Trump overcame serious spoiler challenges from Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin, although to judge from DNC talking points they don’t count as spoilers because, hush, let’s not talk about that.

The shitty ingrates who run the Democratic Party have gotten more loyalty from their disaffected base than they’ll ever admit, so I don’t see why they shouldn’t continue to do without mine. Their conversion of an erstwhile labor party to a rallying cry for overeducated douchebags I used to see around campus doesn’t fucking help.

Joe Biden stealing your wife, stealing your valor, stealing every cent you have deposited in the financial system, stealing your crab

If the Democratic Party actually runs that crooked, gaslighting, falsely modest son of a bitch in 2020, either it’s screwed or we, its constituents, are screwed. Donald Trump’s popularity has retreated into a small hard core of the belligerently authoritarian affluent plus some truly pathetic disturbed cult followers, so a Biden candidacy wouldn’t necessarily be an immediate losing proposition. The general electorate might pine for the hallucinated prosperity and good manners of the Obama years. Trump’s swing voters might well figure, look, asshole, we gave you your chance and you fucking blew it by throwing tantrums every day. One figure I’ve seen for the size of the hardline white nationalist right in the United States is 22 million, a fringe that’s rather large for comfort but nowhere near large enough to dictate the 2016 outcome. Plenty of others, including former Obama/Biden voters, were hoping against hope that Trump might actually govern on their behalf. I barely didn’t vote for Trump, so I was one of these. It’s perfectly conceivable that a disgusted electorate might basically decide every four years that it’s punishment day.

What Biden will reliably do if he wins the Democratic nomination is infuriate the party’s base and provoke an internecine war against the kingmakers. It may end up looking like Chicago 1968, which yielded an electoral defeat for the Democrats, and it may even destroy the party entirely. It’s something of a disanalogy to call student debt the Vietnam War of the Millennials and the post-postmodern generation on its heels, whatever the fuck we’re being told to call it, but there’s some aptness to the comparison. Our current foreign wars affect fewer Americans because they’re being fought by a relatively small, all-volunteer force drawn largely from marginalized poor parts of the country, the classic model being frontline personnel from the hinterlands and the rear echelons from the ghettos and barrios. It’s immoral to ignore the sacrifices being demanded of these service members and their families, especially when the sacrifices are of life, limb, or mind, but as a practical matter, they come from constituencies that are used to being disenfranchised. What Joe Biden’s bankruptcy “reform” has done to dispossess the educated former middle class during the student debt bubble has come as more of a shock to its victims. This is a constituency that has been instilled its whole life with affirmations of its worth as electors and its rights to demand constituent services from its governments. This is exactly the aggrieved constituency that starts and leads revolutions: not the New New Deal/Eisenhower Republican reform agenda that Bernie Sanders figuratively calls revolution, but legit head-in-the-basket, tea-in-the-harbor, Lenin-on-the-eastbound-train revolution.

The Democratic Party elite won’t give a damn if they destroy their own organization by elevating Biden. They never do. He’s one of their loyalists, and they’re all about punishing everyone they perceive as disloyal, i.e., Bernie, who would have won, and the historic base whose turnout would have won Hillary Clinton the presidency in 2016 had they not belligerently alienated it.

Biden’s comments about Millennials being whiners showed just how far that fucker has his head up his own ass. He’s got his fine plugs plugged even deeper into the hole than I assumed, and it’s been a long time since I figured he’d pulled out for air. Again, this asswipe is a prime vector of student debt peonage, and Millennials are the largest pool of victims of the student debt scam, so he’s either too arrogant a fool to recognize that he’s the problem or a stone-cold manipulator. Maybe he’s a dose of both. His shtick about how you need to stand up and advocate for yourselves follows a classic but little rebuked neoliberal intellectual tic: victimizing the subordinate and vulnerable, then smarmily encouraging them to advocate for themselves, offering them “advocates,” or even offering to personally act as their advocates. For a crew that includes so many lawyers, they’re awfully retarded about the existence of conflicts of interest. Like, dipshit, you can’t represent Wells Fargo at the same time that you’re representing disgruntled customers who are suing Wells Fargo; if you’re the assistant office manager for an unscrupulous landlord, you fucking cannot adequately or sincerely represent the interests of a former tenant who is considering taking adverse action against your employer. The pervasiveness of this brain-dead thought process in American business and politics should give us an idea of how the incumbent organizations we have today elevate the stupidest, most disingenuous, most immoral, most amoral people to positions of power and drive out anyone who showed up with any capacity for logic or moral thought, and therefore the burning need to either purge or replace these institutions.

Here’s an idea: You want us to advocate for ourselves? Okay. I’m advocating for you to step into this Eastern Shore shithouse, painted on all sides with larger-than-life portraits of William Donald Schaefer, take your superglued seat, and enjoy your cool change as the weighted bottom sinks your fine vessel inexorably into the mighty Chesapeake. Delaware is close enough, yes? Said you like the way, said you like the way, said you like the way, I sail your ship now. Why, yes, I WILL weigh you down!

In Soviet Mid-Atlantic, Christopher Cross YOU!

That’s the thing. Joe Biden and people like him will never admit that they’re the fucking problem and just stop beggaring their constituents for a spell. They won’t, and maybe can’t, imagine that they could do more good by just being still and retiring from public life to allow decent successors to implement reforms that will, among other benefits, greatly reduce their own exposure as hated racketeers to vigilante or mob violence. They have to be the solution, too. More pertinently, they have to remain in a position to cash in when it comes time to make a show of fixing things.

Goofy old Uncle Joe complaining that the young’uns don’t have the fight in them is awfully rich. The civil rights that Americans today need to reclaim include the civil rights to be free of crushing, often unrepayable, debt, and the infringements of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that result from such debt. Why should we forget that this asshole was and remains a huge part of the problem? And why should anyone not be angry with him for appearing to regard the whole thing as some kind of game? He’s up there acting like a washed-up old NFL bruiser bitching about how the young guys in the game today are a bunch of crybabies and pussies. It’s bad enough when resentful shitheads try to drag athletes wiser and more prudent than themselves down with that line of horseshit. Joe Biden is carrying on in this petulant, self-centered fashion about a political and socioeconomic disaster that he did much to precipitate, by way of trying to goad innocent people who were never part of the problem into cleaning up his mess because they’ll be proud of themselves if they do.

It gets even more ridiculous than this. Biden bragged about how “we” did the heroic work of the civil rights and women’s rights movements. Really? Who the hell are “we?” I believe it was Mencius Moldbug (I know, kind of a paranoid kook) who described this expansive third-person plural as a “nostrism,” or a version of it. It had something to do with Bertrand Russell, like that Russell conflated his own politics with all of Great Britain’s, but no, I am not in the mood to look it up. This cat is a regular Brian Williams, retrospectively showing up where he wasn’t. Biden is (who’da fuckin thunk it?) a Baby Boomer. MLK was not a high school senior when he delivered “I Have a Dream.” If Rosa Parks had been a Boomer, she would have been all of nine or ten years old at the start of the Montgomery bus boycott. LBJ, a man whose feelings on race took some time to evolve towards magnanimity, wasn’t born in fucking 1946. These were some of the most instrumental civic and political leaders in the civil rights movement. I’m not mentioning this because it’s a novel insight; it reads like an ad in American Way for the best plastic surgeons and steakhouses in America; but because these three, and they weren’t the only ones, were a hell of a lot older and more seasoned than Joe Biden circa 1960.

“We” did the civil rights thing in the same way that “we” killed Jimmy Hoffa. Independent activist organizations brought pressure to bear on both major parties to implement civil rights safeguards, and in the end the Democratic Party had a larger role in the legal reforms, allowing the GOP to get overrun by erstwhile Dixiecrats over the next couple of decades. Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth. Etc. This does not mean that Third Way, triangulating centrist shitheads from the DNC and the DLCC, the Clintons, Biden, or anyone else in that swamp had a fucking thing to do with the marches across Alabama, the voter drives, the Civil Rights Act, or any of the rest of it. We need to rectify some damn names and be clear about who exactly did what.

Besides, Joe Biden is one of the nastiest catfish in the whole cesspool. That fucker is constantly presented as, God help us, a regular Joe, who, like, takes Amtrak (yeah, the most expensive line in the entire network) and doesn’t have as much money as one would expect of a proper legislative mercenary. Come on, this guy whored himself out to the banks and we’re expected to think that he isn’t part of the national overclass because he has cultivated a slightly downmarket accent and shabby mannerisms? Bullshit. It takes a limited imagination to assume that his personal holdings are the full extent of his compensation. There’s no reason he can’t be the Kato Kaelin of the Delaware trusts. Why wouldn’t they let him chill out at the beach house, on the yacht, on the Gulfstream, tool around in the white Bronco, whatever, as long as he keeps giving them alibis? That crook isn’t exactly doing badly just because he stays in the guesthouse.

The crab theft accusation came from Tumblr, where a woman accused Joe Biden of having stolen crab meat off her plate when she was a little girl and they were in line at a picnic. I believe it because I have an easier time imagining someone witnessing that and accurately describing it than totally making it up. Joe Biden is the kind of guy who’d steal crab off a little girl’s plate, but that’s still an awfully surreal concept to think up independently as libel or satire. I don’t believe all accusers, but I believe some. After all, he did this to the Defense Secretary’s wife:

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This clown only pretends to be less of a dipshit than Gary Johnson.

Shithole. Shithole. Shithole. *PISSHOLE* coming out of Donald Trump’s *ASSHOLE*

The only reason I’d be embarrassed by that title under my nation’s present political circumstances would be if I’d reverted completely to verbal reflex and blamed Tom Perez for the Levitical emissions in question, but I was careful enough not to do that. I’m aware that I’ve wagged the rude finger at Bill Durden for quoting himself, but when I licentiously paraphrase myself, at least it’s fun.

So, we might concede, are our national politics, in a grand decline of Rome sort of way. Is this, at last, the final fall, or is there a trapdoor lurking beneath the shithole of our national discourse, ready to plunge us without notice into an even deeper and dirtier shithole? I’m happy to learn that Mr. Trump’s comments were translated into Croatian as “vukojebina,” retranslated into English as “place where wolves like to fuck.” “Wolffuckery” has a certain crisp Anglo-Saxon ring to it, if I doo say so myself, but keep in mind that this is fuckery in the fashion of a nursery, a place, not in that of nursing, the profession of Charles Cullen, Elizabeth Wettlaufer, and sexy male nurse Lynn Majors. Since we’re off the subject, I might as well mention how much fun it is to learn of the death of convicted murderer Edgar Ray Killen. That’s living poetry unto Joey Buttafuoco.

I hardly know where I’m going with this shit (into the hole?), but neither do Congress or our fourth estate. Ooh, please let’s have an episode of the Fifth Estate aboot this incident; I can’t wait to hear the Canucks self-seriously recrapitulate it in their crisp highbrow accents. But I’m just a shitposter with a free WordPress blog. A bunch of professionals who draw solid six-figure salaries either to run or to report on the federal government have been thrown into a foaming crisis over the president basically saying, dude, Nigeria isn’t a place where anyone wants to live.

Context matters, of course, and Trump’s context was ugly, as well as idiotic: that foreigners should be denied the opportunity to immigrate to the United States precisely because they’re trying to flee their impoverished, dysfunctional homelands in search of something better. To the extent that humanitarian concern is a value in our immigration policy, this is ass backwards. The whole give me your tired thing can be overblown and used disingenuously by capitalist overclass shitheads to justify the importation of scab labor, but even so, it has admirably and very reasonably been a point of pride for many Americans that our nation has welcomed so many foreigners from so many troubled countries, often with great success for the immigrants and their native neighbors alike. This is one of the things that foreigners most admire about the United States; hearing good things about America from relatives who immigrated here does a lot more for our international reputation than bombing the shit out of our recalcitrant imperial holdings in the greater Middle East because we’re governed by people who can’t resist an opportunity to rape a hornets’ nest.

The stray thoughts that I have about this shit over the course of five or ten minutes contain more nuance and detail than everything I heard about this dumbass scandal on NPR today. Governmental dysfunction and corruption in the Third World drives much of the immigration that has Trump’s tighty whiteys in a bunch, but instead of hearing about how we’re getting the brain drain and humanitarian flight from these countries, we heard about how African leaders are offended. Just because that’s true doesn’t mean that it’s germane. There was a great deal of hot kabuki outrage on behalf of our hard-working immigrants, too, which inevitably missed the bum fight that the overclass has orchestrated between immigrants and the native stock. In spite of, or rather because of, everything NPR tendentiously tells us about our government, it very rarely tells us how we are actually governed, i.e., by master psychopaths. Thanks to this furor over the president’s recurrently salty mouth, we got to hear about how Paul Ryan respects the shit out of African immigrants in Janesville and will never forget that he’s the descendant of shanty micks. Excuse me, but that motherfucker does not care about the poor of any national origin. He’s a scion of local wealth and power who catfishes as a scrappy bootstrapper in an effort to rob his entire nation of constituents blind on behalf of the serious money that sponsors him.

Here’s another fun item that slipped into the ATC broadcast in between longwinded discussions of the president’s scandalous mouth: an objectivity-boner interview with the bumptious governor of Utah about how a Medicaid work requirement is imperative because Utahans believe in work. That’s nice, but Mormon Madoff affinity scams for latter-day suckers and multilevel marketing rackets aren’t work. I might put partial stock in this happy horseshit if I didn’t know that the FBI’s second largest white collar crime squad is based in Salt Lake City. NPR guests are basically allowed to make up whatever the hell they want. Gary Herbert, our gubernatorial Utard, had a great deal to say about the states as the laboratories of democracy, which anyone attentive and honest would have cut short by reminding him that Medicaid is a fucking federal program. Does this gasbag think he should be allowed to make Amtrak switch to a three-foot gauge at the state line to comply with his construal of Utah’s idiosyncratic railroading culture, too? Notwithstanding the operational and political problems with devolving the administration of Medicaid to the states and their moralizing governments, the feds have no duty to allow the states to torpedo federally mandated and funded social services programs out of devotion to the spurious cultural origin myths of their grandstanding elected officials.

Serious question: does this kind of shit happen in Canada? Feel free to chime in in the comments if you know anything about this. I haven’t researched it in any depth, but what I have read suggests that the provincial options exercised over Medicare administration mostly have to do with things like which specific cutting-edge cancer treatments each province authorizes on its formularies, not whether Albertan values demand the impressment of the poor into workhouses, in contrast to BC values of lounging around on a nude beach all the live-long day and Saskatchewan values under which it’s your own fault if you missed free afternoon chow at the social services center because you were otherwise occupied getting piss-ass drunk in a sod ditch. It appears to be regarded pretty much across the country as an assault on the national social contract to use cool stories about provincial culture as an excuse to deliberately weaken social services. At the very least, the provinces are not given the local option to make up their own human rights and criminal due process standards, as our states are licentiously granted on a fairly routine basis.

Torpedoing Medicaid to spite the workshy poor doesn’t get NPR up in arms, but calling Nigeria a shithole does. They won’t lower the boom on behalf of truth and decency toward the native poor, but for the wounded pride of aspiring foreigners they enthusiastically will. Reading “shithole” above the fold on the New York Times homepage was a salacious joy. If It Fits, I Shits; Hit “Print!” NPR sanctimoniously let us behind the scenes to learn about the process by which it determined that there was a public interest in broadcasting Dick Durbin’s uncut hearsay about Donald Trump’s unutterable comment. Other than having to do its own independent reporting to corroborate the story, it amounted to because reasons. The Cubs will win the World Series before NPR explains why the same standard of newsworthiness and candor did not apply to Rod Blagojevich’s “fucking golden,” which strongly implied his attempt to sell Barack Obama’s former seat in the US Senate and got the Mayor sent off to fucking Littleton, which they aren’t gonna let him leave for fucking nothing. Fly the Fucking W, bitch. It’s also good salacious fun that NPR’s admitted standard for the utterance of “shithole” amounts to only once an hour and only from Durbin’s lips, not their own. Love too use a sitting United States Senator as a shabbos goy for the purpose of repeating the heinous comments of the sitting President.

Damn the FCC; full steam abreast! Ew, that again. It’s true, though. NPR isn’t ready to die on this hill of broadcast indecency in service to the unvarnished truth; it is ready to kill on this hill and fully hold its ground. In a way, it’s like Halloween in Southeastern Michigan for egging the neighbors’ houses, or the strike of midnight in the New Year in Manhattan for flashing one’s tits in front of Nicole Papamichael, or Mardi Gras for flashing the Who Dat on the Horse Squad in exchange for a strand of plastic beads and God willing they won’t pump your torso full of duckshot on the Danziger Bridge. It’s a special time when one is allowed to say “shithole” on CNN, have Dick Durbin say “shithole” on NPR, and/or print “shithole” in the Grey Lady. We can put the eggs back in the fridge on All Souls Day and reclothe our knockers come Lent. Or something like that. *Gary Johnson, tongue all over the place again* What is “Lent?” An extraordinary feast day has been decreed; gaudeamus igitur, bitches.

But to think that this is what it took to convince the chickenshit mainstream media to pull out all the stops and let the word, singular but repeated, fall out. No official policy is heinous enough, but the president mouthing off about how a number of countries that are notoriously abandoned by their most successful citizens, by way of trying to taint the brain drainers by association, did the trick. That was what it took to make the bigshots stop cowering before the FCC: hearsay about the POTUS blurting out one of the Heavy Seven at a meeting with legislators who have pretensions of acting as checks and balances on him. No bullshit, Bareilles, that’s what got them to stop cowering in their hole and be brave for once.

This is an example of the elite pushback that I expected against Trump more than against a second President Clinton. To that extent, at least, I’m still relieved that he was elected and not, so to speak, #Her. But this shows how frighteningly superficial these avowed watchdogs are. A loudly anti-immigration president got into hot water for some uncouth comments about his racially inflammatory reasons for wanting to restrict immigration and the bigoted mechanism that he wished to impose in furtherance of this restriction. Meanwhile he’s the one grandee who seemingly can’t be fired for sexual assault, not to mention for abetting police brutality.

This is a political problem, but Trump is a symptom more than the disease. When push comes to shove, impeachable offenses are whatever Congress construes them to include. In the 1990’s, this was an adulterous office affair. Today? Who the fuck knows. Congress could stand up and say, listen, asshat, there are standards of presidential decorum that we are going to enforce, and going on social media to accuse the leader of a hostile nuclear superpower of having a small penis is a violation of these standards. Congress can make it clear to Trump that the acceptable scope of his duties does not include impulsively mouthing off at foreign leaders in fits of grandiosity and disparaging entire nations in order to dogwhistle to white supremacist lunatics about how he’d rather have more immigration from Norway. Congress is not a body that has the moral credibility to stand up to the Donald for being viciously childish and give him one last chance to act like a fucking adult, but it has the constitutional authority to do so.

We may not be a decadent people, but we’re certainly governed by a decadent leadership. God help us, because we may be on the verge of having a crew of national embarrassments including Chuck and Nancy finally hold Donald Trump accountable for, of all things, insulting black and brown people by rudely denigrating the homelands that so many of them are so eager to flee, not because this is an appropriate process, but because it’s the only politically viable process under our current atrocious leadership.

As they say, Secretary of State Rebukes President; Moron This Later.

Kaiser Permanente makes me want to expatriate

Bear in mind that I’m not one of the loudmouthed whiners who bumptiously threaten to emigrate every time the electorate coughs up a butthurtful president. As the Founders would agree, the President is merely the presiding executive. Yes, Wow Such educational Much insights Omg beth ruyak Very explain. Never mind that this does have to be explained to the brainwashed hordes who stumble around our republic on an endless contact high from the presidency’s inflated, bogus majesty. Presidents come, presidents go, and Trudeau, Canada’s mentionable Justin, is something of a weaselly little shit himself.

US healthcare policy is grotesquely wrong in ways that transcend our presidential administrations. Employer-based insurance arose as a wartime contingency that industrial firms used to woo employees without falling afoul of federal wage controls. Let’s spell it out: that’s “wartime” as in World War II, exactly the war you had in mind. WWII ended in 1945. The UK established its National Health Service before it completely ended wartime rationing. Tommy Douglas rolled out Medicare in Saskatchewan in the early sixties and took it national mid-decade.*Very Gary Johnson voice* What is “Saskatchewan?” Hint: it’s closer to the United States than Tommy is by blood to Kirk and Michael.

There is something deeply, embarrassingly wrong with a country that cannot, over the course of more than half a century, replicate the very successful and popular national health insurance system maintained by the country with which it shares its longest land border and predominant language. (Sorey, mes putains, mais c’est comme ça exactement.) This is not a cultural foible; it’s an utter fucking national disgrace, not to mention a relentless attack on the constituents who are forced to make do with a deliberately sabotaged insurance system. It’s not like we used our national sovereignty to come up with a novel healthcare system that actually fucking works. What we did was take a lame ad hoc arrangement whose very origin was disingenuous, kept it halfway functional for twenty or thirty years, and then spent another thirty or forty years deliberately wrecking it before finally making a half-assed, piecemeal effort at reform that still arbitrarily allowed a large minority of the citizenry to fall through the cracks. We yoked our healthcare system to a labor market that we then deliberately destroyed. On what planet is any of this shit reputable?

My dealings with Kaiser Permanente are a result of the scandalously feeble reform effort mentioned above, euphemized as, LOL, the Affordable Care Act. I don’t want to hear a damned word about how I could have applied for Medicaid instead; in a decent society, I’d have Medicare by now, and you would, too. Those of us who so much as dabble in payroll employment already contribute deductions to Medicare for the care of the elderly, the disabled, and so forth, so why in all holy fuck can’t our federal government figure out how to expand the same system, which bloody well works, to everyone, and stop fucking siloing us into dipshit narrow-eligibility plans for which we may suddenly become ineligible for no good reason? This shit shouldn’t even exist. It’s fine if KP or whatever wants to pitch specialty services to people who are already covered by a functioning national health insurance system, but the patchwork that we have now is criminal. The extra disruptions that it imposes during changes in work status alone are proof of its criminality. The neoliberal weasel pack obviously relishes its use of employer-based insurance as a cudgel to get Americans to seek and hold down jobs, but Medicaid beneficiaries face the prospect of losing eligibility precisely because they responded as intended to this incentive to work, but fuck all y’all, we’re living in an Uber economy now. Say what you will about Tim Hortons being run by absolute shitheads; at least they aren’t in a position to fuck up their employees’ healthcare every time they dick around with their hours or employment status. #TIMMEH!

Thanks to advance premium tax credits whose mechanisms I can’t face researching, I’m now able to pay my premium bills without financial hardship. This would feel like something resembling customer service if I could figure out what in the everloving fuck KP will be charging me if I, you know, need medical care. But for the grace of God, etc., I don’t have any conditions necessitating examination or treatment on any sort of timely, let alone emergency, basis, but I do have some minor complaints that would be worth treating. My blood pressure, on the high side, probably alarms others more than it alarms me. I guess I could use some psych services, but like hell do I have any plans to seek psychiatric care in the United States ever again; that much I WILL be taking abroad, if I take it at all.

More pertinently, I guess, I have a small lesion on my forehead that I’d like to have excised. It’s mostly just a nuisance, but it can be painful to the touch, and it seems too big to prudently excise myself, as I’ve done with skin tags. This is how I know what shits run Kaiser. I researched the cost of getting the damn thing removed through KP’s patient portal, and I couldn’t come up with a fucking price quote. They’ve got half a dozen or a dozen or fuck if I can accurately say how many pissant codes for different dermatological procedures, but they don’t have anything like a standard outpatient dermatological excision cost. It depends on what the doc thinks about my lesion.

If I go to a private dental clinic for a cleaning, the dentist doesn’t tell me afterwards that I’m on the hook for $100, not the standard $75, because my teeth are kind of big and funny, not like normal teeth. Dental care in the United States is a classist clusterfuck, but at least it generally has transparent price schedules. Not being formally trained in dermatology, I don’t know what exactly I have on my forehead; that’s why I’d like to have someone who does know about dermatology identify and remove it. In an accountable system, this would be done by someone whose network doesn’t have a kickback arrangement with the pathology lab, not a presumption of innocence that I’m ready to grant Kaiser Permanente. There might be a compelling medical reason to have the lump put under the scope, but I wouldn’t trust KP to make that decision with my interests in mind rather than its own, or to refrain from soaking me for the path workup just to pad its own bottom line, not when I can’t tell what it plans to charge for the five or, liberally, ten minutes needed to lop it off in an outpatient clinic. Healthcare in the United States is increasingly devoted to the arbitrary hosing of vulnerable patients with junk bills, and I have a $6,500 annual deductible to exhaust before I’ll stop being a profit center for Kaiser.

One of the points of being insured is that it should make more sense to get medical treatment at home than to go abroad. That is not what we have in the United States. It probably makes more sense for me to seek routine medical care in Mexico than from “my” doctor in Rancho Cordova. I can more accurately say that Bob is “my” conductor on the Lakeshore Limited from Buffalo to Rensselaer, since I’ve ridden with him twice. KP’s patient portal gives me the option to e-mail “my” doctor, so theoretically I could badger him with demands to be told exactly what his practice will charge me for treatment, demands that I do not have to make of Amtrak, which discloses the full cost of its fares upfront. I’d expect much less, and probably none, of this sort of blindside junk billing from a clinic in Tijuana, and I know that there isn’t any on Amtrak or MTS. The trolley goes right to the city gates, mostly (muh fuckin Ped West), so it’s mainly a scheduling problem, as in, when does the train leave. I may be wrong, but I assume that a Mexican clinic, private or public, would charge less than Kaiser for exactly the same standard of care, and that a private clinic would probably have a shorter wait time.

William and Mary certainly won’t do, now, but Guadalajara might. Guad is said to be home to one of the crappiest medical schools in the Americas, but I don’t know how much of that is just the snobbery of docs who were admitted to medical schools stateside. Regardless, love too militarily restabilize Grenada on behalf of the US expatriate student body. I’m waxing a bit flippant here, but I am not kidding. We have one of the worst healthcare systems on earth, including the Third World. We’re starting to fall behind Rwanda on primary care. True story: Rwanda has taken advantage of Western foundation money to scale up comprehensive home visits for HIV patients, and meanwhile American hospitals have security guards wheeling freshly discharged patients out to bus stops in the snow while they’re still wearing hospital gowns. This is anecdotal evidence, but try accounting for the existence of these anecdotes. I’m n0t pulling these stories out of my ass. We’ve got a bunch of extremely bad processes and extremely bad outcomes, coupled with the highest costs for patients and insurers. None of our First-World peer nations can compete with what we spend on healthcare as a percentage of GDP, and the rest of the First World consistently beats the shit out of the United States on patient outcomes. How hard do we really think it is for Mexico, with its halfway functional and accountable government, to also smoke us across the board?

And of course Canada leaves us in a cloud of dust. When Canadians come to the United States for treatment, it’s usually affluent ones bypassing the waits for elective treatment at home by purchasing it at a premium from American hospitals. Don’t ignore for a second that they also bypass all the obstructions and traps that American hospitals, often the very same hospitals, set in front of American patients. They pay enough to be exempted from the red tape and extortion. If one of our hospitals even tried to screw them over, they could summarily repatriate and have the Canadian courts order the scumbags to get fucked. US hospitals have stronger incentives to treat Canadian patients well than they have to treat American patients well, precisely because these Canucks have more options at their disposal, notably including the quite adequate hospitals back home.

Let’s not compare Canadians who get their medical care at the Mayo Clinic with Americans who get screwed raw by whatever shitty rent-seeking community hospital happens to be nearest by when they take sick. The Rwandan accompagneteur program, which provides regular home visits to indigent patients living in huts, is a much more apt comparison. I’m not trying to preemptively argue that the Canadian government has never run a useless shitshow of a clinic on an Indian reserve, since that’s plausible enough, but we can’t take at face value the White Whines of Canada’s most affluent medical tourists when they, or whatever stateside shitbirds are defaming their provincial and federal governments from a think tank perch, complain about wait times. Besides, it’s not like I was ever told that I’d have to wait a month and a half to get a bunion examined by a podiatrist in Lebanon, PA. We totally don’t have wait times for non-emergency care in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, or atrocious maternal and child mortality rates.

It’s harder to get an answer from Kaiser Permanente about how much it will charge to lop that fucking lump off my forehead in a ten-minute slash-and-dash than it is figure out from the immigration and HRSDC websites what I’d have to do to obtain legal residency in Canada. This speaks much better of Canada, which is not my home and native land, than it does of the United States, which is. This ain’t a case of love it or leave it. I’m not a loud patriot, but I’m a patriot. I’d consider an offer of Canadian citizenship a high honor, much higher than OBE or OC or some shit, but I would not accept an offer of Canadian citizenship lightly. Expatriating while remaining registered to vote in California, as is my right as a US citizen with established residency ties to California, and using expatriation as the basis for an exemption from the Obamacare individual mandate, is a completely separate matter. That’s no failure of patriotism. Patriotism does not demand submission to the most boneheaded and corrupt dictates of an unaccountable, bought-off government. Neither did patriotism demand submission to the draft and deployment to Vietnam to hold the line against communism in Southeast Asia, or, as this mission was reinterpreted in the enlisted ranks, to kill the fucking shit out of the fucking gooks. Canada came through for us when Lyndon used that fool’s errand to get his constituents killed for the aggrandizement of his Johnson. Canada came through for quite a few of my country’s fugitive slaves, too. I don’t see how it didn’t treat them better than my own people did.

No, I’m not trying to start Canada Day celebrations five and a half months early. That’s not why I maintain the internet’s treasury of Sick Willie, Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes, Colonel Underpants, and Northside Juice and the Shady Blues memes, even if Thick Lizzie is no sexy male nurse Lynn Majors. I’ve heard of a number of serious complaints about communal tensions and problems with the police affecting Afro-Canadian communities in Nova Scotia and Ontario. I’m not about to get up on Monty Robinson’s high horse and insist that Canada is the perfect community for the Community, although, if I did, I wouldn’t get drunk and fall off, and I’ve never committed a fatal DUI. It was fun when Kwesi Millington sued the CBC for defamation, and it would be fun if Sauce Boss sued me for accusing him of constantly falling off his horse. All of this is more fun than health policy in the United States. Canada has its shambolic intersectional creeps, murderers, perjurers, bus cannibals, and drunks, but it also had Tommy Douglas. We had FDR, the half-measure Douglas who left behind the employer-based health insurance system that we still can’t fix. Frankie Boy couldn’t have known what a clusterfuck we’d make of this ad hoc wartime arrangement that was directly not his doing but the doing of Business Plot industrialists who had been brought only partly to heel by popular and government pressure in the midst of a systemic economic collapse.

I don’t feel like dignifying any Merle Haggard-ass blowhards who would like to impugn my patriotism. This is my country, but it’s a deeply sick and dysfunctional country. It’s unreasonable to assume that we’ll somehow magically keep this whole deal together and heal ourselves in due course of time when our national track record of reform is so poor. Go figure that the love-it-or-leave-its cheer on everyone who bails on Venezuela or Cuba on account of grievances with socialistic central planning. This isn’t really about loyalty to place. Michael O. Church is right that America as a concept has historically meant many things, but what’s worrisome is that so many of these things have been powerfully destructive and evil. Our healthcare system as it has evolved for most of living memory is no result of national virtue.

And we’ve damned most of a continent by our very political culture and geography. Canada and Mexico are the only sizable countries that are within close range for expatriation, and they, plus a number of Central American countries, are within firing distance of one of the most insanely grandiose empires the world has ever known. This is one of the really disturbing things about healthcare policy in the United States. This chronic dysfunction and extortion isn’t being codified by the corrupt government of some tinpot dictatorship, but by the world’s sole extant imperial hyperpower. This arguably ignores China, but the Chinese politburo is more pragmatic and less grandiose. Whatever is wrong with the United States will inevitably threaten its neighbors. We aren’t a backwater like Honduras or El Salvador. Those countries have stumbled into national disaster, and we’ve rarely been bashful about giving them a good hard push, but they don’t have the demographic capacity to overwhelm their neighbors. We do. This can’t be good news for North America long-term.

As Juarez said, Mexico is so far from God and so close to the United States. Canada, for its part, has been aptly described as a pimple on the American ass. The saving grace, perhaps, is that Kaiser Permanente can’t begin to work out the billing code to remove it.

A fellow might do better to study an actual broad

One of the neat things about NPR is that it is radio of, by, and for those who know quite well what’s wrong with this American life and seek to learn ever more about our wretched national condition but reliably will not do a fucking thing to remedy the horror show that they so obsessively observe and catalog. Speaking of the devil, Ira and, shall we say, the posse are all woke with the social consciousness about how some schools in the Bronx are worse than others.

Before we proceed, we must have, I believe this is called a prologue, about how I came to hear this episode. In general terms, it was a function of my warm homelessness, not that having a stable place of my own will necessarily stop me from continuing to pull over at Donner Pass on Friday night in preparation for a morning of Chicago Senpai and alpine hiking. That’s not what I was doing for Episode 550. I don’t know who the fuck Enoch Christofferson was, but I was at his rest area, where the local NPR affiliate had the nerve to terminate the Weekend Edition Saturday broadcast at 9:00 to clear the air for Rick Steeves. I’d have set my alarm for 7:00 and dealt with the fatigue later in the day if I’d known that these shitheads had the nerve to commit such a vicious crime against #SPORTS.

What did that fucking American Tourister dork have to say that was more important than Scott Simon? I slept through most of it, in an act of self-mercy, but the opening teaser included a clip from a lady who was all impressed in retrospect with how much she had retroactively learned by reluctantly going on a family vacation to (where else?) Europe in her teens, the point being that expensive international vacationing is never wasted on the callow young.

Staying behind to spend the MyPanera points before they expire sounds wiser all the time. If a teenager is going to be a blame fool regardless, the blame foolish shit will be less costly and disorienting if it goes down right here at home. The only downside I can see is that it might deprive one the opportunity to hear, “Maybe I should take a picture of this plane. Actually, on second thought, I’m not gonna do that. I don’t wanna take a picture of this British Airways fag airline thing that screwed us so royally!” I had to fly to Paris to hear that, from a fellow member of the Lancaster County mental and behavioral health community who had even less business than I had spending spring break in France. The royal screw job in question had amounted to our group’s lead chaperone having to yell at the Irish/Canadian/whatever gate agent at Heathrow when she absentmindedly tried to split the group onto two connecting flights until, five or ten minutes later, she got the lot of us reticketed on an Air Liberté Mad Dog to Orly, i.e., HM Fag Airline Thing. #TheMoreYouKnow #AllonsEnfants!

This was the same kid who got spazzed out by some low-grade bullies and threw a textbook into the guidance counselor’s office window. The window was reinforced with a hexagonal grid of wire mesh, so it was sturdier than Homeskillet, but I wasn’t the steady as she goes on my own overseas trips during high school. I can count no fewer than four trips to Europe when I had acute bipolar episodes, as well as a destabilizing effort to set up a dumbass Stacey’s Mom situation with an American MILF in China and, in college, a dumb haole flash-in-the-pan quasi-romance with a classmate in Hilo. What I got out of these trips was in spite of all the personal and interpersonal bullshit, and against the odds. I was a fucking idiot, but instead of being a fucking idiot in Brussels or Bergen or at 41,000 feet chasing the March sun around the goddamn top of the world, I could have stayed home and been no less ridiculous in Lancaster, a cultural and geographic environment that I basically understood.

The dork who was obsessed with me in college, the one who needed help following me into the student union and staring at me for five minutes straight, had the right idea: she did that shit in Carlisle, which is a super fucked up town, but she only had to drive, like, 90 miles back home to Allentown to spend the following summer bitterly complaining on her DeviantArt page about how much she hated all men. (I assume this excluded the he-dork in the safari hat who helped her follow me into the student union, but who the hell knows.)

The longwinded point here is that our boy from Barstow (the ones who get out are even worse) is either full of shit or out of his mind with his notion that, why, of course the young’uns will be duly enriched by their family vacations in Europe. How that twee, earnest motherfucker is from the same town where I watched a homeless guy haul a trash bag full of deposit bottles from truck stop to truck stop at 3:30 am is beyond me, but being based in the North Sound allowed him to be the respondent in the greatest Dolezal-free internecine fight in Washington State’s White Community when Timothy Egan’s pre-teen son, according to Timothy Egan, blurted out, “Rick Steeves has to be stopped!” *Fluently Florentine Amanda Knox Voice* You said Italy would be a nice place to get to know more deeply, you lying, smirking sack of shit.

Personally, I prefer to cross Florence at Normandie. Never mind, I did the opposite in my parents’ rental car last month. Granted, Perugia isn’t exactly Florence, but neither was Foxy Knoxy exactly the killer, and that didn’t stop the trial court or the British gutter press. The same affiliate that exhorts us not to consider whether maybe international travel is a foolish idea right now for one’s adolescent brat wants us, immediately in the next hour, to try to see things from the perspective of kids from the South Bronx who can hardly function in Riverdale. This is exceptionally incoherent. It isn’t exactly gaslighting, but it sure feels like it. This was why they had to deny my tired vagrant white ass a rebroadcast of #SPORTS: like, European vacation is cool, and here are some poor brown kids who resent the rich white kids for vacationing in Europe, and you, too, can be both a high-volume traveler to Europe and woke as fuck about life in Mott Haven. Let’s get rich and buy our parents houses in the South of France and/or buy our poories full scholarships to Wheaton, receivable upon completion of the fourth round of competitive cuts.

There are two Wheaton Colleges, so of course the one in question here is the secular Masshole version. As they say in the other Wheaton, we’re just simple Christian folk who don’t know John Dennis Diddly about that New English hauteur. A relevant SVU concordance here is the episode about Manor Hall, which sounds a lot like Horace Mann, the one in which the ginger failson living in the guesthouse had gone all Kato Kaelin on his Dick Cheney-looking old man because of his exposure to one of the numerous faculty pervs at *THEIR OLD SCHOOL*, rather than for more general reasons of intersectional wealth, mental illness, and ennui. I guess I’d be a whore-ass man myself if that had happened to me, whatever that may mean. Really, I’m just trying to put off the inevitable renewed confrontation with what utter shits America’s in-your-face preps are. The calmer, cooler, more modest ones can be chill as all hell, but they aren’t the ones who are needed to prop up alumni donations and cocaine sales. Some guy who’s mostly wearing a pink sweater around his shoulders on his grandfather’s spare yacht probably isn’t doing fuck-all for society in any tangible positive sense, but at least he isn’t running FIRE sectors scams on the rest of us like his supposedly productive classmates. I’ve personally met close variants of these characters, and believe me, the Xanax Lacoste crowd is all right. The trouble starts when the Vineyard Vines set comes across its ambitions and its uppers. That’s when I start wondering why Teddy didn’t have room for them, too, on the Ducks ride to Chappaquiddick.

Oh, Matha, what a fine vineyahd! What sawt of grapes do you grow heah? Think about the project that Posse undertakes, sending earnest kids from public schools in the ghetto to fancy-pants residential colleges in New England. How could this possibly go wrong? I went to college about an hour from home after four years at an explicit college prep school, and by sometime in my sophomore or junior year I became overwhelmed by how fucking insufferable the dominant preps, including public high school alumni, were towards anyone who didn’t admire them for their bullshit. I knew a number of Posse students at Dickinson. They were cliquish and reserved, but they were also too decent and focused on their schoolwork to start shit with anyone. If only the preppy asshats had kept to their goddamn selves to the same extent, they’d have spared those of us with interests other than being belligerently haughty pieces of shit, but far be it from Bill Durden and his admirers to spend their free time quietly drinking soda in the Quarry with two or three close friends.

I wasn’t particularly surprised, then, to hear from a Posse alumnus at Wheaton about his academic difficulties, social isolation, and eventual expulsion on account of bad grades. The kid’s heart was in the right place, but he was in over his head. His story about being unable to afford the required textbooks made me wonder mainly about why students with full scholarships are nickel-and-dimed for textbooks. He obviously had exceptional difficulty finding his way around academic settings, including a profound unfamiliarity with libraries, but how did anyone organizing a scholarship program for students from indigent family backgrounds assume that they’d be able to afford the highway robbery prices for shitty instructional materials that lawyers’ children are expected to pay on top of full tuition? Posse is missing some nuts and bolts. Somehow it puts its beneficiaries through multiple rounds of competitive interviews and cuts, akin to reality television, and yet fails to orient them in the campus library. What the fuck?

Of course, the Insurance Schmuck never thought of the library in terms of books, either. Dickinson has a full-service coffeeshop in the library lobby now. I had to drive to Messiah to pick up A World Lit Only By Fire, but at least no one still has to walk around a couple of corners and across a courtyard for immediate bougie snacks any longer.

What I can’t help but wonder is whether some of these kids wouldn’t have done better in the CUNY system or, say, at Stony Brook than going out of state for a proper New English college experience in the Village of Whitey Green. I don’t mean to be a concern troll here, although I can’t object to the accusations. I often think that I’d have done better at Chico State, Humboldt State, or Rutgers than I did at Dickinson, a position that supposedly scandalized that dipshit who was all sore on account of his own hick-ass upbringing in Missouri. For the hell of it, just in case he lived on the same block as Sam Dotson or something, I performed Zuckerbergian Google-fu on his ass, and sure enough, he’s from fucking St. Louis County. More of a Wilsonian background, then, as in Spradling. Bully for him. What an insecure dipshit, though. That explains the Main Line-passable accent: he isn’t actually from some clearing thirty miles out past Branson. This calls to mind Day Quayle’s comments about his own childhood: “I love California. I was practically raised in Phoenix.” This doofus must have figured that I assumed St. Louis County to be one big hickfest. Meanwhile, I spent the summer of 2014 feverishly trying to figure out what was wrong with the police in the county where he was raised, which I took to be an urban policing problem, just as everyone else did. I wouldn’t expect anyone from a hundred miles away to have heard of my grandmother’s hometown of eight hundred in rural Kansas, but metropolitan St. Louis? Maybe our next project can be a debate between Jack Cashill and Emma Sullivan: Kansas City: A city in Missouri, or a city in Kansas?

Honestly, I’m floored that this fuckjob passed himself off as a hick when he went to high school, like, ten miles from the St. Louis Zoo. Good grief. I can’t imagine I didn’t spend my teens around more hicks than he did. He has a Facebook cover photo of a boathouse in the Hamptons, where he claims to summer, and I guess he considers that a step up from St. Louis. I’d hate to have been raised nowhere near a famous TWA hub with nonstop service to multiple airports on the East Coast. What a childhood of deprivation and want.

This is the sort of shit I face from other White People from affluent backgrounds. It’s impossible that most of them aren’t worse to black and brown kids from poor families. Dickinson College won’t stop currying favor with belligerently highbrow shitheads who have a chip on the shoulder because their yachting buddies seem to think that everyone in St. Louis County lives in a tarpaper shack with an outhouse in the backyard. Maybe, just maybe, enrolling first-generation college students from the poorest parts of the Bronx in exclusive private colleges where the socially dominant constituencies consider the entire state of Missouri to be an underserved rural community will have an unintended, and pernicious, disorienting effect on them at a time when they’re already overwhelmed by a process that upsets even students from wealthy, highly educated families.

As peevish as I got about the steevish, my last trip through the San Joaquin Valley exposed me to a certain F&M Bank, its corporate colors a tasteful blue and white, and I’m feeling the space in my wallet for another debit card. This is starting to sound like the worst possible Cee Lo Green number, but it’s true. Say it loud, say it proud, and God willing piss some crackers off:

GO DIPLOMATS!