Jason Arias
The Baffler,  November 16

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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Happy Times Are Here Again

We’ve been looking at it all wrong, folks: ballooning wealth inequality and its attendant woes are in fact “a happy sign that life is becoming much more convenient.” See, some fifteen million children living in abject poverty while billionaires lap greedily at the tit of corporate welfare is the very happy result of a system that will soon put us at the mercy of a self-driving car that cooks pizzas on the way to customers’ houses—a surefire “sign of living standards experiencing yet another life-enhancing leap.”

 

The Wars to Come

Republican senator and confirmed wackadoo Mike Lee of Utah gave a speech to the Federalist Society this week outlining a heady prophylactic set of policy proposals to prevent an otherwise-certain civil war started by the radical left. His titillating vision of utopia necessitates that funding for the interstate highway system and public education are abolished, all workforce regulation given the ax, and the “huge glut of federally owned land” sold to the highest bidders.  

 

ICE, ICE, baby

The longtime bedfellows of draconian immigration policy and corporate interest have entered a new chapter of their romance: 7-Eleven franchisees believe the corporate office is using ICE to target its critics, setting the all-smiles agency on certain stores as tough-love discipline for criticizing or failing to comply with ever-tightening standards. Back in January, ICE raided ninety-eight 7-Elevens across the country, and while the corporate office claimed “no advance knowledge” of the effort, at least four of the franchisees targeted had criticized the decrees of the head office. A new report from Bloomberg Businessweek details the mounting paranoia and congenial corporate vibe inspired by CEO Joe DePinto.

 

We’ll Leave the Light On for You

Motel 6—that discount fount of hospitality—has agreed to cough up nearly $9 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that employees of multiple Arizona outlets of the home away from home regularly handed over personal information of Latino guests to federal immigration officials, leading to their detainment and often deportation.

 

Malibu Is Burning

As wildfires continue to ravage California, let us take a moment to mourn the great loss of heavily insured celebrity-owned estates—many of which, despite the protection offered by privately employed firefighters, have been licked by the flames or burned to the ground, including the Malibu compound of Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke’s mansion, and the quaint abode of Gerard Butler. Worst of all, the Bachelor Mansion has been at least partially destroyed by flames. It is truly a great shame that the teenybopper jailbirds fighting the fires for pennies weren’t able to prevent this great loss of prime real estate.

 

Interview with the Breakfast Cereal Vampire

General Mills, beloved supplier of herbicide-laced breakfast goods, is aiming to get in on the movie business by launching a cinematic universe of sequels, prequels, and spin-offs based on cereal mascots Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and Boo Berry. In a nod to the resurgent populist vein in American politics, it’s a contest calling on the underemployed foot soldiers of the nation’s content mills to pitch their vision of breathing life into the iconic mascots as part of an integrated, cross-platform marketing strategy.

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