Home sweet home


I had a somewhat unexpected occasion to spend a few days in France last week, and came home a couple of days before the Ferguson grand jury whitewashed — I use the word advisedly — yet another murderer in a squad car.

France is by no means a paradise, and there are plenty of crazy people there. But I must say that even so, the US looks very bad by comparison.

We are surely the second-craziest(*) people on Earth. And this is an amazingly badly-run country, too.

There is a notion, widespread among Usonians, even those who should know better, that France and Italy are slow, sloppy, inefficient and so on.

I have no idea what this idea is based upon, apart from people repeating what they have heard other people say. But in my experience the food is better, the trains are nicer, the streets are cleaner and the motorists are less demented there, in the bad degenerate Old World, than here in the New. The people are generally better-looking, too, and almost always better-dressed.

Why are we so fucked up? In particular, what’s up with this hobby we have of shooting down unarmed young black men?

Is it that we palefaces still hate black people so much? Or is it that we love cops so much? (Not mutually exclusive, of course).

We’re apt to deploy the term ‘racism’ reflexively, and we’re surely not wrong about that — not entirely wrong, anyway. Though it does seem to me that the beast has evolved in the last fifty years or so. It may in fact now be a different species of beast, though it’s still pretty beastly.

Does the existing order still need racism to prop it up? It’s not clear to me that that’s so. We recently found a handsome brown-skinned chap to command the Death Star for eight years, and the business of America — namely, slaughter — seems to have gone forward very much as usual. Oprah bestrides the book trade — and pity the poor book trade. Eric Holder; what more do I have to say? I don’t need to mention Clarence Thomas, do I?

I wonder whether racism nowadays isn’t a consequence of American inequality rather than a precondition of it. I wonder whether the police are so numerous and well-armed that they have to shoot somebody every so often — after all, it’s why they joined up in the first place — and it’s still just that little bit easier to shoot a young black guy than a young white guy.

If that’s so, then which would be better: persuading the pigs to be equal-opportunity shooters, or making it more difficult for them to shoot anybody at all — by disarming them, say? Or even better, by disarming them, laying them off, and forcing them to find honest employment like the rest of us — or rather, not find honest employment, as the rest of us increasingly cannot?

Thought experiment, of course; it’ll never happen. The American ship of state has its tiller lashed down: we’ll keep piling on the police, building the prisons, shooting the black guys, and so on, until the keel hits the rocks.

Bring on the fucking rocks, I say.

(*) Israelis, of course, take the gold, and have done for some time now.

The results are most definitely in…


… and it would appear that being slightly less bad than the other guy is not a compelling elevator pitch.

I don’t think anybody mentioned the midterm elections in my hearing — my physical hearing, that is, in the 3D world — but all my friends were tearing up Facebook about it. This seems appropriate, since Facebook is the Valhalla of the inconsequential.

I actually know people who voted in New York, for Heaven’s sake, and not even for Howie Hawkins. They’re being secretive about who they did vote for, but I bet it was that Lovecraftian tentacle-faced monster Andrew Cuomo. I’m sure they did it on one of the sockpuppet lines — Working Families or the other one, the women one, and no doubt this gambit will have appeared to send some kind of message.

In fact it does send a message, but not, perhaps, the one intended. The message Cuomo and his ilk will have heard is that there are a few gulls who require an extra layer of candy-coating, and that this is easily supplied.

On the boat the other day I heard on the radio — our local NPR affiliate, of course — a rather genteel mud-rassle between a representative of the Working Families Party and another from the other one, the women party. Both spokespersons, as it happens, were women, so although the Woman Card was played relentlessly, it sounded like a tie to me, after a rather dull, listless bout. Even the mud seemed bored, and volunteered only the most perfunctory sucking sounds. And neither of the contenders seemed to give a shit, really.

Both of them agreed that Cuomo was a deplorable person — or no, that’s not quite right. What they seemed to agree on was that Cuomo was two people, a nice Andy and a nasty Andy, and although we have only seen Nasty Andy since he was inaugurated, Nice Andy is still barely alive, though deeply sedated, somewhere in the Cuomo brainstem. Both sockpuppets promised to bring back Nice Andy by — guess what? — “holding Cuomo’s feet to the fire”.

This is a very popular phrase among Democratic Party fellow-travelers, and of all the wolf tickets one has ever been offered, it requires the deepest discounting — on a par with Confederate bonds, really.

The Workaday Women’s party or parties in fact have no fire, and wouldn’t light one if they could, and they have no grip on anybody’s feet. If they were ever in a position to spoil an election for a Democrat, and willing to do so, this feet-to-the-fire trope might have some plausibility. But they obviously are not able, or willing, to do that, so feet and fire will never meet.

I remain astonished at the need people feel to vote. I can only conclude that it’s some sort of superstitious practice, like carrying a rabbit’s foot. Quite invulnerable to reason.