Warrior from Future Travels Back To Warn of Grim, Doomed Timeline

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GREENSBORO, NC – Appearing in a flash of light before a group of stunned passers-by today here in Greensboro, a self described “warrior from your future” rose from the ground to deliver an intense, grim address to what he called his “Exalted Elders,” captured and uploaded to social media, FC News can confirm.

“Dear Elders… or as you would call yourselves, Americans,” the man began, as onlookers surrounded him, recording on their phones.

“The Great Mystic had energy enough to send only one person back through the mists of time to set right what once went wrong. I urge you heed my words!”

The identity of the man remains unknown as of this posting.

Wearing a ragged, makeshift uniform while carrying what appeared to be a rifle of unknown make, the man steadily yet quickly went through his words, as though he knew he had little time.

“She has looked back, before the Mutant Wars, before the Scourge, before the Pestilence of Seven, before the Famine of Skulls, before — yes, it is even said, before the Great Cataclysm and determined it is now, at this very time, this day during the distant Age of the Lost Exalted Elders, when all was lost. Change now and save us from this doomed timeline!”

North Carolina remains one of several key battleground states in the 2016 presidential election. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have made several stops here over the prior months. It is unknown if this locale was chosen for this reason.

“The Great Mystic bids our distant ancestors, of this place called the Desert of Ashes, or as you Exalted Elders would call it in your time, ‘America,’: hail from your children’s children!”

He was met with mostly stunned silence, although a few onlookers hurriedly called emergency services.

“Our brave warriors have won many honorable victories against the mutant hordes, but our numbers dwindle, they dwindle,” he intoned. “The Great Mystic, She of the Sixth Sight, has summoned the very last of her energy to warn of this doomed timeline before it begins and urges you to stand with your distant descendants at this last, most desperate hour!”

In response to shouted questions from a reporter, he denied belonging to an improv troop. “I am only a trooper of the Bear Clan, chosen for my bravery for many a mutant lay dead by my hand!

“But the last lights of humanity twinkle out, like the stars I have never seen in my lifetime. They have taken the Port of Samuelson. They have taken Ryger’s Bridge. They have taken the Green Monument and Balgar’s Redoubt. We last of us huddle in the Forsaken Keep as the draw ever closer… You must go tomorrow, my Exalted Elders, and save us from this condemned fate. You must prevent the Instigator from sending us all down this path of darkness!”

He later added, “Donald fucking Trump? Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you fucking morons? That’s the choice you shitheads came up with as the best you could fucking do? ‘Exalted Elders’ my ass, more like ‘Fart-xalted Elders,’ am I right?”

Neither campaign could be reached for immediate comment, although unofficial Trump campaign surrogate Bill Mitchell hailed the news on Twitter: “Definite proof the future thinks we’re going to win, and we’re going to win big folks! #MAGA”

At press time, as the unknown visitor was being led away by emergency tactical teams, he would only keep repeating: “Remember my words, my ancestors! Remember my words!”

Why are NFL ratings sinking this season? Too much parity.

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NFL ratings are down. Not just in one market or for one particular program such as Monday Night Football, but across the board. Numbers are off up to 20%, according to some reports. Worryingly, the viewership for yesterday’s Sunday night showdown between the Broncos and Raiders — two teams with great W/L records in a divisional matchup with major playoff implications — was actually down from last week’s Sunday night game, which had to compete with the World Series. The NFL and various football pundits tend to throw out the same reasons to explain this slide away. The election. Colin Kaepernick. Poor matchups in nationally televised game overall, with the miserable Bears somehow showing up in four and counting. Too many flags for too many yards. Poor quality on the field.

The too-many-flags thing is a factor, although probably not a huge one. One of football’s historic disadvantages is seeing, for instance, a beautiful pass reception for a TD get called back just because some asshole was holding on the other side of the field. But that’s nothing new. It’s the sheer quantity of yellow raining down on the field — for such frivolities as excessive celebration (seriously) and taunting (which is an NFL tradition older than the West Coast Offense). No surprise that the NFL record for penalties in one game was broken this year — and, no surprise, by the Raiders. Back in the day, the penalties of “personal foul” and “unsportsmanlike conduct” were enough to punish serious transgressions, while allowing enough leeway for the normal endzone dances and trash talking that fans expect to see. Nowadays? The PGA insists on less decorum, it seems.

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May as well be the logo of the entire NFL now.

But flags are just one issue that can easily get rolled back in time for next season. The issue of too much parity, however, offers no easy solution in sight. There are too few dominant teams, too few absolutely hopeless teams, and too many in the mushy, Tennessee Titans middle. Way, way too many.

By what I mean by “too much parity” is this. Fans in sports accept, even expect, the presence of a certain number dynasty teams on one hand, and perennial loser squads on the other. Alabama reigns as a dominant college football team year-in-year-out, as is right and proper, and fans expect nothing less. Nationwide, and not just among fans of the Tide, either. It makes it that much more exciting when ‘Bama visits your neck of the woods, and it makes it that much more of a campus-riot situation if your local team can pull off the huge upset. Auburn fans would be sorely disappointed (even if they refuse to admit it) if their longtime foes imploded. Conversely, Kansas football is gifted a Bowl season perhaps once a generation, which makes it that much more exciting; the rest of the time, their official football fight song is, “Just You Wait ‘Til Basketball Season!”

And on that note, Kansas, Duke and Kentucky have near-guaranteed berths in March Madness due to their decades-long reputations. The women’s side can be renamed UConn vs. Whoever Gets to Lose to UConn This Year. Other pro sports’ dynasties are more fluid, but teams often enjoy several years of uninterrupted excellence before retirements, injuries and free agency take their toll. Squads like the Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants, and Nationals can all be assumed to have a reasonable shot at the 2017 playoffs, sight unseen. Meanwhile, the Padres and Reds organizations can guarantee Octobers off for their staffs for the foreseeable future. This may suck for baseball fans in San Diego and Cincy, but overall, having organizational strength — or weakness — that lasts beyond one year is healthy indeed for these sports.

Now take the NFL. How many teams would you call “dynasty” this year? The Patriots, of course, the final holdouts of the old ways, and… who else? Anyone?

I put NFL teams in six power “tiers” instead of the traditional 32-team ranking. Differentiating between, say, #19 and #20 is usually a mug’s game anyway; doing groupings instead of individual ranks gives a better, more season-long view of where each team stands as opposed to relying too much on week-to-week wins and losses.

At around this point in 2013, I had four squads in the top tier. As in, glory squads with unquestioned Super Bowl competitiveness. Guess how many I have now? If Brady hadn’t ever returned, that tier might have remained empty. The Raiders are still too unproven with too many holes on defense to qualify. The Cowboys have enjoyed an unusually soft schedule, running up the score on such sad sacks as the Bears, Niners and Browns; just barely squeaking by an Eagles squad currently in the process of imploding. The Chiefs, as usual, remain solid second-tier contenders without yet finding the magic of a destiny team.

As for tier 6? 2013’s manure pile of 4 teams is down to just 2. The aforementioned Niners and Browns, the latter of which has an owner doing what he can to fight parity in his own way.

Meanwhile, tiers 3, 4, and 5 — Titans turf — are getting so overpopulated, they’ll need rent control. Teams like the Eagles that started out strong are getting sucked down by the gravitational pull of mediocrity, while teams like the Bengals that are trying to break out can never reach escape velocity. This morass of the mundane has few stars and little breakout talent. Potential star RBs are failed by bad QBs and worse O-lines. Top-flight QBs like Rivers and Brees are marooned on subpar offenses, struggling to find talent to work with, let alone offensive coordinators who can truly utilize them. Pro Bowl cornerbacks often just watch the QB avoid them and instead find holes left open by their undertrained, disorganized teammates. And so forth.

The problem is, due to the NFL’s pro-parity forces of profit sharing and free agency rules that reward mercenary attitudes and punish loyalty, it’s become damn hard to not only put the pieces together, but also hold them together for the multiple seasons it takes to build into a contender, let alone a dynasty. The Patriots, for instance, would have never become the force they are if it weren’t for Brady’s fanatical loyalty, to the point where he actually accepts pay cuts in order to provide cap space for other positions. Can you think of any other player in the league who would do the same? The Chiefs rely on paying for “solid-enough” in most positions, especially in defense where cap space can stretch longer, with the downside that breakouts like Eric Berry will get lost to free agency. The Broncos relied on the magic of #18 and the eyeballs he drew, but with Peyton retired, analysts generally say the Donkeys’ days of regarding the AFC West championship as an entitlement are over.

Which means even teams with bad coaching and worse management can string along the occasional win and a middling record simply by picking up players capped out of better teams. This is why the Rams manage to win 7 games a season, when based on their coach and owner alone, they deserve 3 at most. Only the Browns have found the formula to become the anti-Patriots, with bad draft picks (Johnny Football anyone?) and worse free-agency moves (the one exception being the inexplicable trade of Jamie Collins from the latter to the former; either Collins got too greedy or Belichick had a brain fart).

Which means, instead of a broad spectrum of team quality, we now have a bell curve full of Tennessee Titans. Teams with few notable names, playing in anonymous corporate-branded McStadiums, seemingly clawed back down by the others if they try to break out, with any potential drama intentionally snuffed out by the NFL’s draconian rules, with forgettable offenses all fighting for an 8-8 finish. (Will this year see a record in 8-8, 7-9, and 7-8-1 finishes?)

Roger Goddell can scapegoat Colin Kaepernick all he wants, but at least Kaepernick is doing the league an unintentional service by providing a truly pathetic team that makes everyone else look good by comparison — which is, in a way, almost as important as having the Patriots around. And in the end, viewers and advertisers will see through the excuses. They can turn off any long-running TV series with no problem once the plotline gets too boring and the characters too predictable, despite the marketing, and what Gooddell failed to grasp was, a TV series is largely what the NFL is.

If 2016’s NFL were on HBO, it would be a series where Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow have been replaced by Stannis Baratheon and Allister Thorne. If today’s NFL were a temperature, it would be 40 degrees. If it were a villain, it would be the Diet Coke of evil. It’s VH1, Robocop 2 and Back to the Future 3. It’s got to reinvigorate. It has to roll back parity to once again become a league of winners and of losers.

Girl on the Train, and the cynical answer to last decade’s beach reads.

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I recommend this post by Anne Helen Peterson on the new genre of “dark chick lit,” for want of a better term, such as Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, and their contrasts with the breezily optimistic ’00s novels such as Confessions of a Shopaholic, Thirty-nothing and that bygone genre’s ur-example, Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Part of what marks the differences between these two genres, besides cynicism vs. idealism, is how they treat their male subjects. In the classic ’00s beach read, the male romantic interest is some version of Mr. Darcy: aloof perhaps, and at first wary of the protagonist’s zany antics, but in the end a firm, moral, perfect gentleman. But in the latter-day novels, the men are so monstrous they wind up excusing the female main characters’ many moral failures — if not being the outright cause. In a direct reversal of ’00s chick lit, the men of dark-chick-lit start off seeming nice and likeable, only to be revealed as monsters as the work progresses.

The Cool Girl monologue in Gone Girl is held up as the defining worldview of these novels, showing how unrealistic expectations of women by the patriarchy ultimately destroys them.

“Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”

The Cool Girl should be instantly familiar to anyone who’s seen There’s Something About Mary, as that is the title character to a T. She’s thin and hot, yet is into boy stuff even more than Ben Stiller’s male protagonist is. The movie shows all of the male characters obsessing over Mary, fighting over each other for her, and ignoring all the other female characters so that they can land the Cool Girl. No surprise that her character was created by the bro-tastic Farrelly Brothers, who always showed a deep understanding of their male characters while remaining wholly ignorant of the opposite sex.

gone-girl“Dark chick lit” books show the end result of this standard, with girls (and yes, it is always “girl” in the title of these works, not “woman”) destroyed by this impossible patriarchal expectation, and gaslighted to the hilt by their abusive and/or adulterous male partners. ’00s chick lit (and I hate the term, but I don’t know what else to call it) features a protagonist scared to death of remaining single, and putting all her effort into landing her Mr. Darcy; dark-chick-lit has the protagonist(s) starting off attached, only seeking the relief of singlehood and detachment from their manipulative, abusive, sometimes murderous partners as their only escape.

And on the topic of murder: the killing/disappearance/kidnapping plot in all these books is there to pump sales on Amazon, but is in the end a distraction from the real dynamic. I could have continued to read for a thousand pages the lives of the deeply imperfect Rachel, Anna and Megan in Girl on the Train without anything so dramatic as the murder to derail (pun not intended) their inner workings and force its all-too-pat conclusion. (disclaimer: I’ve only read the book and have yet to see the movie.)

For these novels, like their ’00s foils, work to make their at times dastardly female protagonists relatable to readers… only, they reflect their worst impulses, impulses that women are supposed to pretend don’t even exist, whereas the ’00s novels work to reflect the reader’s cutesy side — quirky, perhaps a bit immature, but always endearing at the end to the male knight in shining armor.

This contrast also plays out on the small screen, with Girls (yep, it’s “girl” in the title again) showing a deep cynicism as an inverse of Sex and the City’s eternal optimism. And as messed up Lena Dunham’s quartet of female protagonists are, there is nothing that suggests they should do anything but cut off all contact forever from any of the vile male characters. Mr. Big definitely showed some of the flaws in common with the evil dark-chick-lit men, but in the end, his sins were venial, not mortal; he was a good guy, as were all the men the other women wound up with. In Girls, however, neither Kylo Ren not any of the other guys should be allowed within 1000 feet of any single woman without first registering with the police.

girl-on-the-trainRace also plays a huge, if unmentioned, part in this genre, as its books and shows are written specifically by and for white women. Lena Dunham in particular has garnered a reputation as a low-key racist, stating at one point that her show is there specifically to show the perspective of her white experience, in so many words. But beyond the skin color of the author is this: no culture in America is more stringent, more exclusionary, more conformist than white culture. (Blue-state white culture, anyway; redneck culture is an entirely different beast.) These works simply would not make sense with a Black or Hispanic cast. So much in white culture revolves around exclusion. Where banishing people from your social scene for abnormal behavior is the ultimate act of power and prestige, and so therefore pursing the ultimately normal life is of paramount importance. Girl on the Train’s Rachel daydreaming of what she fantasizes as the perfectly normal life of the as-yet-unmet Megan and Scott, in fact, helps launch the novel’s plot; the various characters trying to make each other feel not normal or accepted is their most potent form of social combat. This is something that does not translate very well to Black or Hispanic literature — or in Black or Hispanic real life. It is an understatement to say how much more forgiving people of color are of unusual personalities and lives than white people are.

Reality is no doubt somewhere in between the sunny optimism of Bridget Jones and the nihilism of Gone Girl. But these days, in 2016 especially, I know which genre better fits the public mood. And really, dark-chick-lit is teaching a good lesson: You shouldn’t let your guard down further the more you love someone; in fact, you should do the precise opposite.

Organizational health in hereditary feudal fiefdoms, such as the NFL

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Good take from last year on the differences between a successful NFL franchise, and, well, the opposite.

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This would be the opposite.

The KC Chiefs are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum in organizational health between the Patriots and the hapless Browns, skewing a bit higher overall lately. If a casual fan can expect the Pats to go 12-4 in any given season just on the organization’s reputation alone, knowing nothing else about the player or staff roster, and can expect the Browns to go 4-12 for the same reason, then they can expect the Chiefs to post a solid 9-7 finish. Not stellar, but enough to sneak into a wildcard playoff spot half the time.

And all three teams represent well the biggest liability in 31 of the 32 NFL franchises: the ownership.

All teams, with the lone exception of the Packers, resemble a medieval (or Saudi, but I repeat myself) feudal fiefdom, where the lordship is passed down from father to son. This isn’t just an informal custom — NFL bylaws explicitly state that only one person may have majority ownership of a franchise. Perhaps this is so that no decedent owner may commit Charlemagne’s error of dividing up his empire among his many children, and must pick one; Buckingham Palace goes solely to the eldest heir of the Queen for the same reason. This inevitably leads to owners leaving their franchise to one of their male children, rather than going through any sort of selection process to find the person actually most qualified to lead the team.

The success or failure of any corporate franchise begins and ends with the owner. Any freshman-level business class uses the restaurant owner as the prime example — the tireless, obsessive owner vs. the lazy dilettante who leaves everything for his manager to figure out. The textbooks make clear which one will succeed. So it is with the NFL. Yes, the head coach handles the depth chart and the play calls; the GM handles staffing, including drafts; but it is the owner and only the owner who holds the ultimate veto of being able to hire and fire for both these positions. And I can’t think of a single owner who does not at least occasionally interfere in the decisions of these underlings, for good or for ill. Too often for the latter.

For restaurants or other normal companies, the free market generally handles it from there. Incompetent owners soon find themselves in bankruptcy court, no matter how cushy their starting position was if they inherited it. My own dad can testify here, after he tried leaving the business to my brother.

But the NFL isn’t a free market, because if it were, the Cleveland Browns would have filed Chapter 7 several years ago. The league is in fact arguably a quasi-governmental agency on par with Amtrak, taking user fees/purchases and taxpayer dollars (better believe, a LOT of taxpayer dollars) to distribute total income among its 32 “subagencies” or fiefdoms, more or less equally. Thus, reinforcing how a franchise ownership really is like a landed, hereditary nobility title. The feudal nobility system is one of government, not commerce, right?

And so, Cleveland will be afflicted with a losing NFL franchise unless and until Jimmy Haslam — or his son — chooses to actually learn how to lead a football franchise. There is no option, no veto. It’s not like the Browns could just fold shop, to make room for another club. It’s not like a new club could even be allowed to start up in or near Cleveland. His Lordship Haslam will ensure the Mistake on the Lake cannot have a competitive NFL franchise anytime soon, not unless His Excellency finds it in himself to mend his ways.

Which is possible! Robert Kraft didn’t really figure out the job until the mid-late ’90s. And now, he is by far the biggest reason why the Pats are now the league’s premier dynasty, comparable to what Duke and Kansas are for college basketball. Belichick and Brady may have had unusually long and stable careers, but above them lurk the front office and ultimately Kraft himself. It is simply impossible for a restaurant to succeed for years without excellent ownership, no matter how lauded the chef may be. He also represents the biggest future problem for his team — what happens when he retires or dies.

Clark Hunt, who inherited his title from AFC legend Lamar, was similarly clueless for many years after ascending to the Peerage upon his father’s death. He had no real reason to go out of his way to learn how to football — like a unionized Chicago schoolteacher, he is immune to the threat of being fired for incompetence. It took the shock and trauma of the Chiefs’ 2012 disaster to finally make him learn the ropes of his job, stop relying on castoffs from other organizations, and make his vassalage into one of the more solid contenders in the AFC. Pity the opponent who doesn’t prepare before heading into Arrowhead Stadium these days, unlike the days where they garnered the same reputation as your mom for “streakbreaker.”

But there is no justice, no method to remove an incompetent owner from office, assuming they aren’t stupid enough to leave racist messages to their mistresses. There is no room to allow a competitor to flourish in the market. (Not even in New York City. A Giants fan would rather wither and die than switch to rooting for the Jets, and vice versa, no matter how bad things get.) The owner of the NFL franchise in Cleveland or Boston or Kansas City or any town other than Green Bay, WI, will be the owner of the only franchise in town until he dies or sells, and that is that.

Ultimately, the NFL just illustrates why democracies, for all their issues, perform better than monarchies or dictatorships. Kraft’s Patriots are an exception — most other NFL franchises cannot meet the decade-to-decade quality of the Packers, the one organization grandfathered into allowing a publicly traded corporate governance with the residents of Green Bay as the shareholders, with a president instead of an owner.

Sure, at any given moment, there will be some king or dictator or oligarchy more dynamic than the unwieldy democracies of the West. But on average, they fare far worse — for every Robert Kraft, there are a dozen Jimmy Haslams running things with your local tinpot dictatorships. If you get to choose to pick which team to be a fan of for the next 50 years, and unlike me were unswerved by childhood loyalties and only had an eye for winning percentages, you would be an idiot to pick any team other than the Packers.

I would not be surprised to find the Patriots or Broncos as cellar dwellers a generation from now. I would be very surprised to find the Packers as the same.

Delving into the nature of organized hate

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The media finally became aware of the alt.right thanks to a certain orange presidential candidate this election cycle, but they still struggle to even begin to grasp what this movement means, or where it came from. They often take stabs at it by basically treating it the same as the old Klan or Skinheads, which makes as much sense as treating today’s social-justice warriors the same as ’60s hippies. Or they obsessively latch onto Pepe, thinking there is something more to this character than being a meme that future alt.righters happened to circulate a lot while they were teenagers or young adults in the ’00s. There is nothing specifically racist about Pepe any more than there is with anime — a non-white artform, I remind you — which also remains huge with alt.righters, and for the same reason. If Sonic the Hedgehog for some bizarre reason had been a favored meme in 4chan circa 2006, then Sonic would be an alt.right figurehead today.

Having logged plenty of hours on various forums in the ’00s myself, it was never a real mystery to me where true alt.righters, defined roughly today as internet-focused white supremacists under 30, came from. It was all an evolution, from malicious trolling combined with problems finding girlfriends when younger, evolving into general resentment of the liberal order, or what they call “cultural Marxism,” to eventually settling into more familiar patterns of white supremacy. Yes, they arrived in the same general political place as your average Klansman 30 years ago — but from radically different approaches.

I interacted with these guys all the time. Many were motivated with a seething hatred of women for their inability to get laid — by far, the #1 reason they eventually got mixed up in the alt.right. (Twitter, one of the favored platforms of the alt.right, demonstrates that misogyny far outstrips racism or other forms of abuse.) Some were crazy conspiracy theorists who weren’t really hateful towards women or Jews, at first, but who let their generalized hatred of The Powers That Be lead them in that direction. A few were Europeans (and, rarely, Americans, such as the guy I link to below) who really did start off as rabid anti-Semites, and who therefore had the least distance to travel to land in Trumpville.

But hey, don’t take my word for it. Here is Daily Stormer proprietor, rabid anti-Semite and leading alt.right figure Andrew Anglin: (don’t worry, the link is to the Google cache version, not his actual site)

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This banner design is no accident. Anglin knows how to market to his target audience.

“The short story is that… the people that [the term alt.right] is being used to refer to by the media – Trump-supporting White racial advocates who engage in trolling an other activism on the internet – are the core of the movement… The Alt-Right is an online mob of disinfranchised and mostly anonymous, mostly young White men… The mob is the movement.” (italics his)

“It was a situation of different online subcultures (some of which were influenced by older offline movements) coming together. These groups collided, based on their having reached common conclusions, and the result is what is now called the Alt-Right.”

He is talking about diffuse movements, all being largely motivated by malice — the trolls of 4chan/8chan/9gag/other forums; the woman-haters of the PUA/MRA/#GamerGate world; the obsessive conspiracy theorists; and, to some extent, the angrier Ron Paul fans — coming together to form a single confederacy of thought. One full of lulz and kekz and memes, to be sure, but which is really not far removed from the old Klan. Even so, one must keep in mind that while they may be allied with old-school Klanners and older pseudo-intellectual racists such as Jared Taylor and John Derbyshire, they are not the same thing as them. It’s a whole new generation.

One thing that never remains wholly explained, however, is this continued obsession with Jews. I can certainly understand their rage at the Establishment, one that is not entirely without foundation. I unfortunately can kind of understand the misogyny — it’s easy to blame women for an inability to get laid as opposed to oneself. I may not have had this exact issue (he humblebragged, stretching leisurely in his chair) but I have been guilty of resenting the opposite gender after a bad breakup, and especially after my four-year abusive relationship. Many straight women, needless to say, can relate.

But where do Jews fit into any of this? At all? I just don’t get it. I mean, for the conspiracy-theorists, there’s some crazy quasi-logic to it — they love searching for a Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory, and the one about the Jewish New World Order is far more ancient and more established than any of the modern fairy tales about the Illuminati or what have you. But what about everyone else? How does trolling for the lulz or raging against women lead you to hating Jews? Especially since Jews on social media are pretty much the opposite of unified, with conservatives such as Ben Shapiro and Jonah Goldberg holding nothing but vitriolic (and quite public) hatred of liberal Jews such as Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias, and vice versa? Seriously, if they’re trying to run a global conspiracy, they are really sucking at their jobs!

So yes, while I have interacted with quite a few future alt.righters on forums in the ’00s, and have read treatises like the one above from Anglin, I still can’t entirely understand the nature of hate. No matter how much I read about these guys, or the Third Reich, or ISIS, I just can’t wrap my mind around it — where the both complete and voluntary surrender to evil comes from. Anglin knows he’s a bad person and has a “necessary evil” mentality about it. PUA alt.righters such as Heartiste know they are evil and brag about it. Milo quite plainly brands himself to anyone who listens as a real-life Joker, doing what he does in what he sees as malicious humor. And, like most movements filled with horrible people, the infighting between each other can boil over. This is perhaps the greatest advantage that civilization has over barbarity — the need for the latter to betray each other, like mobsters snitching to the FBI to settle scores.

A few alt.righters still try to rationalize. Vox Day, while self-styling himself as a “dark lord” and who calls his followers his “vile minions” — no joke — tries to couch his evil in Christian theology.

Still, Vox Day and his ilk are in the minority. Most are evil and they are proud. That’s the part I don’t get, and to be honest, I would be ok if I never get — this true nature of evil.

Political comedy or political orthodoxy: pick one.

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This Ross Douthat column has been making the rounds today, as he bashes late-night TV for being too liberal. It’s part and parcel of a standard-issue conservative tirade about how liberals are dominating all areas of culture, but people are viewing it as a response to Samantha Bee attacking her colleague Jimmy Fallon for his kid-gloves approach to Donald Trump the other day, veering as he did away from the politics.

Douthat’s column got more publicity when Bee decided to clapback:

There’s a lot to unpack from a white comedian falling back on the race card in response to criticism. There’s also the implicit assertion that she’s some kind of holy crusader against racism and not, you know, just another late-night comedy act. “How dare you come after me when, you know, racism is still out there?!” But the biggest issue: this remark’s about as funny as a kitten in a trash compactor.

Her moral preening is diametrically opposed to the whole concept of comedy. Know what else is? Predictability.

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Did you know there was a Nazi comedy magazine? It went out of business because it was not funny. Although, the idea of “Nazi comedy magazine” is kind of funny.

Tune into John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, or Samantha Bee, and you know *exactly* what their opinion is on such-and-such ahead of time — partly because that opinion’s interchangeable among the four of them. And not just on Trump, but any topic whatsoever. Take John Oliver and his current show — out of all his weekly cover stories over all these seasons, has he ever, even once, taken any stance that was even slightly out of lockstep with wholly conventional, liberal, social-justice doctrine?

The only comedy from his show is from random, apolitical non-sequiturs and crazy metaphors. “Donald Trump is barreling forward in the polls like Chris Christie barreling towards an all-you-can-eat buffet,” that sort of thing, only he would veto that joke because it violates social-justice rules on fat-shaming, so the final joke would be something like “barreling forward like an angry Wal-Mart shopper elbowing her way towards the last discounted Blu-Ray player on Black Friday” which is funny because the stereotypical Wal-Mart shopper is a low-income, low-education white person and who is therefore hilarious.

Take those gags away, and you may as well be subscribed to a newsletter from mic.com. It is absolutely nothing other than preaching to the choir. Last Week Tonight does not challenge, it does not engage, it serves as nothing but a weekly half-hour bias-confirmation therapy session for his self-selecting audience with one of the most conventionally liberal content providers in the world, HBO. With a few scattered, extraneous gags thrown in to technically maintain its status as a “comedy.”

This is not to say I always disagree with the party line! I’m as anti-Trump as they are, if not more. And Oliver was certainly spot-on with his FIFA bashing. But that’s not the point. It’s that I know what he’s going to say beforehand.

No, this is not always a bad thing in comedy. If a topic comes up that you know is one of the comic’s obsessions, then anticipation of him or her spouting off can be its own reward, even if you know the general outline of the conclusion ahead of time. Which, of course, is precisely why Oliver’s show is worth watching when FIFA makes the news. You know he takes a major interest in this, same as most British people (I was going to say “same as most European people” but, well…) and so it’s fun to see exactly what kind of curse words he’ll invent to describe Sepp Blatter this time around.

But that’s still no excuse to turn your show into a recitation of the hymnals of one political orthodoxy or the other. (Occasional conservative forays into comedy often stumble for the same reason.) When he talks about charter schools, or fracking, or refugees, you can bet his script may as well have been approved ahead of time by the SPLC.

Now, you can be political and still be interesting. Take George Carlin: This was one liberal who was not doctrinaire by any definition, finding plenty of time to bash his “own side” during a typical show just as he did conservative interests. His bits were usually not predictable, and even those hitting on his hobbyhorses (religion, etc) found ways to innovate and hit at odd angles, and besides — audience anticipation for his old favorites played a role, too.

(Yeah, I’m pretty sure Last Week Tonight will never have an episode called “List of people who ought to be killed.” Talk about problematic!)

See, I’m not going after Oliver or his peers like Bee, Colbert, and Noah for being liberal, especially since I agree with them half the time at least. I also know they have past histories as comedic talent. I’m going after them for their currently uninteresting shows.

Notice someone not on my boring list? Bill Maher. Now, this guy can be a real prick, especially when it comes to women. But nobody can ever accuse him of being doctrinaire. His show regularly triggers (heh) angry hot takes at conservative sites, yes, but also on that old warhorse of SJW liberalism, salon.com. For instance, get him talking about Islam, and salon’s entire staff will need to retreat to a safe space for smelling salts and readings from Noam Chomsky. They obsess over politically-incorrect-liberal Patton Oswalt for the same reasons. (Maher’s mostly in their good graces lately, but that’s due to his nonstop Trump-bashing. If Hillary wins, he’ll be back on their problematic list in no time.)

Also, I’m not talking about the apolitical guys like Fallon and Kimmel. I’m not going to be like Douthat and pine for the good ol’ days when Johnny Carson stayed as neutral as possible and quarterbacks for the Niners knew their place. But at the same time, sure, the market for politics-neutral entertainment is much bigger, as evidenced by Colbert’s low ratings compared to his peers.

Colbert and his fellow children-of-Stewart may earn the succor of New York Magazine and Vox editors for their loyal adherence to dogma, complete with “Trevor Noah DESTROYS such-and-such” headlines, but they don’t exactly earn viewers. Political orthodoxy is as unfunny as it gets.

On a scale of zero to ten, what’s your made-up pain number today?

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My clinic follows the generally-accepted practice of asking patients how much it hurts, on a scale of zero to ten, and then recording this number along with such numbers as temperature and blood pressure. Conventional doctrine dictates that this is a “vital sign” no less objective and reliable than recording how many times your heart beats per minute. This was no accident. By 2001, the pseudo-government Joint Commission, which is a federal regulatory body in all but name, dictated that all hospitals and other entities under their purview must record this pain scale at the same time as all other vital signs, and that was that.

Pain_Scale__Arvin61r58The pain scale is also, and has always been, based off of pure and utter bullshit.

A pain of 10 is supposed to represent literally the worst pain of your life, bar none. A 10-pain is not supposed to come from a migraine headache, routine lower back pain or a sprained ankle. Think of someone whose left lower leg was blown apart with a 12-gauge while his ribs were getting cracked with a metal baseball bat — THAT is the patient who is supposed to complain of 10/10 pain.

Yet, hardly a shift goes by when I have a patient who stated their lower back pain is 10/10 sitting calmly, texting away on their phone when I walk in the room.

Meanwhile, patients who are in true extreme pain — with a documented history of injury or condition and displaying gritted teeth, which is generally a reliable sign of pain of at least 8.5 — often merely label their pain at a 6 or less, thus following the old axiom that the patients that have the least wrong with them, complain the most, and vice versa. (The patient least worried about his health within the past month was the guy whom I correctly suspected had advanced cancer. I was literally begging for him to go to the ER. I am not making this up.)

The reason why your nurse asks you to rate your pain from 0-10 is related to why doctors in the late ’90s through the ’00s overprescribed narcotic painkillers such as oxycodone to an alarming degree. It was part of a calculated, organized push by pharmaceutical companies to increase sales of such drugs, backed by the government and the Joint Commission, and as we all now know, boy did it ever work. By 2013, American patients represented 81% of the entire world’s oxycodone use. For hydrocodone, this number approached 100%.

I saw it with my own eyes in med school. Docs routinely writing for 120 oxycodone — with refills. For lower back pain or other chronic yet non-deadly ailments. I don’t care how much willpower you have — taking that or even 30 Vicodin a month will sooner or later turn you into a junkie, no different than the stereotypical street heroin addict.

Drug reps are always trying to think up new strategies to make doctors prescribe their meds. But no marketing strategy can hold a candle to the power of getting patients literally addicted to your product. Just ask 19th-century China.

Of course, now the backlash is in full swing. The JC and the various state and federal agencies, realizing their terrible mistake of pushing Percocets on patients like Halloween candy, did an about-face and started imposing stiff regulations against the prescription of such meds. They required doctors to check online prescription records before writing for controlled substances. ER physicians were allowed only to write for small quantities of these meds at a time. The federal government will soon burden us with yet another required “training” class, drilling through what they see as our thick skulls the new anti-opioid doctrine just as forcefully as they did their pro-opioid doctrine circa 2000. Because America’s opioid addiction epidemic is all our fault, not theirs, of course. They never urged us to prescribe such meds. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

The problem? Millions of junkies don’t get un-junked just because their legal drug dealer closes shop. They instead turn to their not-so-legal drug dealers, leading to the surge in heroin abuse, and resulting overdose deaths, so well documented by the mainstream media.

I had a patient about 2 weeks ago who came in to get cleared for a Suboxone clinic. Hers was the typical story — after a car wreck left her with a bad lower back, her primary care physician started flinging oxycodone at her like Li’l Wayne flinging bills at a stripper, only with less caution. She soon found herself coming in every month for her refill, and thus generating a sweet monthly superbill for this guy, until she herself declared that she had had enough after over a year of this.

Of course, by then it was too late. She was hooked. She had to use every day or else become dopesick. Unlike so many other addicts, however, she refused to go the way of the needle, turning instead to a methadone clinic. But this was arguably even worse than oxycodone — as she put it, methadone “seeps into your bones” — so she quit cold turkey over three months before I saw her.

And over those three months, the addiction never lessened. She still had the cravings; she still got dopesick, complete with nausea and vomiting. So she turned to Suboxone, arguably the least-bad option for patients in her situation. She will most likely remain on it for the rest of her life. All because her caring family doctor chose to get her hooked on powerful narcotics.

Oh, when she came to my clinic? She was asked how much it hurts. On a scale from zero to ten.

It is impossible to overstate just how much bullshit is baked into the practice of medicine in this country, and the farce with the rise and fall of legal narcotic trafficking is just one example. Doctors now deserve the unseemly reputation that ambulance-chasing lawyers garnered a generation ago. (Quick: what do you call a hundred dope-pushing docs at the bottom of the ocean?)

And the bullshit with your next doctor’s appointment will begin before you even see the doctor. There’s the bullshit of our convulated insurance nightmare, of course, but even after you pay your copay, you get asked how much it hurts, zero to ten. Just pick a number, any number. It doesn’t even matter.

A defense of Western culture, in one photo.

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olympics1This image has been making the rounds today, illustrating a remarkable meeting of cultures at the Olympics as Egypt took on Germany at beach volleyball. Commentators remarked that athletes can come from any culture and wear anything they want. Both are beautiful in their own way, the usual voices say. What a depiction of the Olympic spirit, as competitors from wildly different cultures meet on the even playing field of athletics.

Which it certainly is. I am glad that Western culture, which gave rise to the Olympics, welcomes and celebrates such diversity. There are plenty of people who would hate on either type of dress or consider it oppression, yet such people have no power to exclude anyone on the basis of their bigotry alone. And not just the Olympics: every major Western institution you can think of makes a massive show of valuing inclusiveness and diversity; every year has us debating new ways to be an open society, with transgender rights being the current front line.

Think about a culture that is able to produce events where all cultures and beliefs get equal footing. Yes, yes, the main Olympic Committee is corrupt as all get-out, as are the various national equivalents, and any city leader would be insane to want this massive and expensive disruption in their town. The graft involved in the Olympics would make Boss Tweed blush. Yet, still — what an accomplishment.

We’ve certainly been imperfect about this, to put in mildly, but continue to make strides with inclusion every year and every decade. The fact that past eras are more racist than our own speaks volumes of the power of Enlightened thought. I want every decade to be more racist than the next.

olympics2The Olympics represent an ideal of such civilization, one that draws even the most despotic and regressive cultures to compete. Hell, not even Hitler was willing keep black athletes from performing in 1936, that’s how bright the torch of Western values shone in the darkest pit of Nazi Germany. And most of us delight in pictures such as the above, or those of the American athlete also in the hijab. Because she chooses to wear it.

Which is actually the more important lesson. Secular Western culture gives as much room for our athletes to celebrate their Muslim heritage, as it does for our Christian athletes to do the same. If the German athlete above wished to compete in Muslim dress similar to her opponent, surely she would have been allowed to. Same as with America, the UK, Australia, or most other Western Culture.

Now think, what would happen if a female athlete from an Islamic country wished to dress the other way.

One can probably guess how her home country would take it. I don’t know what the odds would be of her survival upon returning home, but given recent evidence, they would be sufficiently low that such a situation would warrant offering her amnesty here in the States.

I’m not talking about her odds of being publicly shamed, ostracized, arrested. I am talking about her odds of being murdered for not wearing the correct attire. Whether by the state, or by a howling mob, or literally by her own father or brother.

I am all for celebrating the inclusiveness of Western culture. I am all for celebrating Muslims who welcome living in a Western culture

I am not for celebrating the intolerance of Islamic culture.

For as long as there has been a feminist movement, from the 19th century on, the most powerful, most intractable, the most unforgiving enemy of women’s rights has been conservative religion. Just about every ruling, edict, or law for the subjugation and chattel slavery of women has been rooted in Christian scripture — easy to do when so many of the earliest Christians were rabid woman-haters motivated by hate and jealousy of Mary Magdalene and by Aristotelian thought, among other things.

Every feminist advance — from the right to vote, to receiving anesthesia during labor, to enjoying equal rights to pursue a career, to the existence of reliable contraception — was always faced with the forces of the Christian right, a sect that still believes, and will always believe, women should be baby-breeding servants to their husbands. This is why the great boogeyman in feminist literature remains the male Christian preacher, or their counterparts in politics such as Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee. (The Orange Orangutan himself has little use for religion, but his attitudes towards a woman’s place in society are in alignment with those of his evangelical voters.)

We revel in the pushing aside of religious intolerance at every turn, if that religion happens to be Christianity (or Judaism in Israel).

But then we go wrong in celebrating an Egyptian society that forces its female athletes to dress like above. A society that is driven by a fear of the female form and of female sexuality. One that practices female genital mutilation on the vast majority of girls unfortunate to be born within its borders.

The greatest enemy to women’s rights, at least in Europe, is now Islamism. With Christian culture now dead or dying in that continent, it is Islamic culture waging a growing war against women — a real war with real violence. Whether from marauding hordes of Muslim youths, or governments approving of gender segregation in order to assuage Islamic sensibilities, or honor killings in one of France’s self-governed Sharia ghettos, one thing is clear:

Religious conservatives are once again fighting furiously against women’s rights.

Only this time, they are winning because mainstream Westerners and feminists refuse to say one bad word about Islamic conservatives. Even the same ones who never stop harping about Christian conservatives.

The people who are rabidly opposed to Islamic culture tend to be just as bad in their treatment of women. Yes, this would be the alt-right, whose MRA and PUA members rival even Islamists in their virulent hatred of anyone with two X chromosomes.

Defending our values means always speaking out against the alt-right; it means speaking out against Christian extremists; and yes, it means speaking out against the Islamism that has relegated hundreds of millions of the globe’s women and girls to second-class status, or worse.

Want to really celebrate the Egyptian athlete from above? Tell her that her choice of garb should be just that, a choice, and not a state or society mandate.

The peasants are revolting!

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I can’t let this July 4th weekend pass without touching on Ross Douthat’s remarkable column on the theme of populism vs. globalism — remarkable mainly for where it was published, the New York Times itself, that ancient home of the aristocratic worldview that makes Ezra Klein look like Father Coughlin by comparison. Let’s face it: all the Vox’s and Buzzfeed’s are just young imitators desperate to copy the style — and connections — of Davos’ Mouth of Sauron himself, Douthat’s colleague Tom Friedman. I doubt Douthat’s column (or any force on the planet, for that matter) could cause Klein or Friedman or Jeff Zucker or Andrew Hamilton to have a moment’s introspection, let alone even a shred of humility, which is a shame. Elites before them have had similar attitudes, and with rather untoward results for themselves.

Douthat details the self-congratulatory attitude of the elite class that he himself calls home, or as he puts it: “It [the word “cosmopolitan”] gives the elite side of the debate (the side that does most of the describing) too much credit for being truly cosmopolitan.” That is, the globalists are not actually open-minded citizens of the world; they just belong to their own tribe, one no less insular and closed-minded than that of the flyover-country nationalists that they so despise.

I’ve been hammering on this point since even before the rise of the various populist movements: the Trumpkins, the Brexiteers, the Five Star crowd of Italy, the True Finns, the Sweden Democrats, the National Front. The globalist media likes to paint all of these as “far-right” fascist parties, but really, Brexit actually had more support with Labour rank-and-file voters than Tories — Jeremy Corbyn lost a vote of no-confidence from his fellow Labour MPs because he famously paid the Remain side mere lip service, arguing until the moment of his ascendancy to party leadership for Leave. This isn’t like the debates over the environment; this isn’t left vs. right. This is about the people wanting nothing less than to stick it to the Man.

And these movements rise because voters know damn well how our leadership class is in equal measures selfish, incompetent, and myopic. They vote for Donald Trump because there is literally nobody else who lets them vent their spleen at these globalists, these neoliberals, these Boomerists, and thus we get to the true danger of failed aristocracy: the horror of what replaces them. Failed monarch Louis XVI is only remembered, after all, as the king who was replaced by the Terror. It turns out he couldn’t just studiously ignore his way out of the rage of the Third Estate after all, a lesson that our current world-city class would do well to learn.

But they won’t, will they? Take any example you want. Politicians, corporate honchos, university heads, hospital CEOs, NGO chairs, bureaucratic chiefs — they all come from the same tribe of people and are interchangable. David Petraus went from four-star general to CIA chief to boutique banker. Jon Corzine went from Goldman Sachs head to Senator to NJ Governor to, yes, that’s right, boutique banker. Larry Summers went from Harvard academic to World Bank mucky-muck to high-ranking bureaucrat under Bill Clinton to Harvard president to — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — boutique banker. The same tiny tribe has their hands on every lever, and the only ones who think they’re doing a good job at it are each other.

marie

“One moment, my dear. I’m finishing up my Slate thinkpiece on a revolutionary new food that could fill in for the lack of bread. You won’t believe what it is!”

And none of them rise from nowhere anymore, do they? Sure, the Clintons did, many decades ago, but the next generation is more like Chelsea, right? They all have had the right hookups since basically birth, didn’t they? Even tech, supposedly the last field where a commoner can pull himself up by his bootstraps a la Jeff Bezos, is increasingly dominated by Zuckerbergs with their Ivy League credentials and connections, as we all know from that movie. I’d more expect the next explosive app or device to come from a collaboration of Jack Dorsey, Larry Page, and Larry Summers’ boutique bank, than from a couple spunky college dropouts from San Jose.

Wanna write for Vox? You better be Ivy League. Wanna run a site like Vox? You not only better be Ivy League. You, or your parents, better be good friends with the people who matter. Otherwise, off with ye!

Shut out. Voiceless. In debt. Most likely living in a town the new economy has passed by. Laughed at by the Davos set. Is it any wonder regular plebians across the industrialized world vote for the populist option, no matter how crazy or horrifying? Even if they privately think Trump is a clown or Brexit is terrifying or Marine Le Pen is racist as all get out: how else can they send a message?, they’ll ask you plaintively.

And how do elites respond to populist, democratic results? By looking at themselves? Oh, my goodness, that is a quaint notion. No, they respond by questioning the need for democracy itself!

Populist revolts throughout history end terribly, as opposed to the American Revolution which was ably shepherded by our aristocracy of that era. Pick any example you want — the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the rise of National Socialism in the early 1930s, any Communist uprising in East Asia, the fall of the Iranian Shah. All exerted a horrible cost on the commoners they were supposed to serve, as would the presidency of a Donald Trump.

And yet, all were triggered by evil times, and a leadership that was incompetent, uncaring, malevolent, or all three. The people don’t rise up in rebellion just to pass the time (well, outside of soccer venues anyway). The people rise up because they have no choice. This is why the blame for the Terror is more correctly placed on Louis XVI than Robespierre. It was the incompetent Czar that subjected the Russians to Bolshevik tyranny more than the Bolsheviks themselves. After all, there are always people ready to take over with false promises, violence and atrocities. They only can if a decayed or absent leadership class allows them to.

I’m no anarchist. I know there will always be a leadership class in some form, and there should be. There always has been an elite class in America from the signing of the Declaration on. In fact, it was excellent leadership that steered America from a fledgling backwater fighting for its life to the superpower it is today, though crises and wars great and small. And, other than brief interludes such as the Warren Harding administration (a rot which did not really affect leadership outside of Washington), we have never been afflicted with an elite class so insular, so in awe of itself, so walled-off, so short-sighted, so enormously greedy, so monumentally selfish as the one we have today.

Tom Friedman will blame Trump on showmanship, on flyover country ignorance, on nativism, on democracy itself; yet he will never, ever blame the one force he should — Tom Friedman.

How the Tories, and maybe the Republicans, purged their racists.

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There are a lot of reasons why Britons are seriously considering divorcing the EU tomorrow — distrust of the Continent is a deeply ingrained British tradition — but a big one is the desire to flip the bird to the European ruling class, one that is just as insular, degenerate and incompetent as our own.

Now, what we call the “elites” of America, Britain and/or Europe represents a cluster of individuals well-connected to each other and who follow a unique culture created by members of the Baby Boomer generation. They are generally products of the top universities, all of whom float effortlessly between the top jobs in elected politics, unelected bureaucracy (which typically wields more power, especially within the EU), universities, Fortune 500 corporations, health care, and NGOs such as the Clinton Foundation. The latter organizations were once called “charities” by our grandparents — the switch to the term “NGO” discards any pretense that the people now running these things have any interest in charitable giving. The book Clinton Cash is a good primer on both the corruption of the Clintons, and the corruption of this “non-profit” (heh!) world in general — I’ve posted about the debasement of Goodwill and its Dickensian CEO before.

Regular British subjects who don’t have the right connections in London or Brussels correctly see their rulers as having nothing but deep contempt for ordinary Britons and their concerns, earning the ire of the proles in return, so globalist vs populist contempt is definitely a two-way phenomenon. Really, both sides would be perfectly content if the planet were emptied of the other.

Charges of racism are one of the biggest divides here. The elites see Brexit-leaning commoners as irrevocably racist, as this column and this hot take make perfectly clear. This charge remains the patricians’ most potent rhetorical weapon against the plebians. And they are correct: commoners and populists are certainly more racist than their rulers. Nigel Farage himself may not be racist, but many of his followers are as he knows perfectly well — and he absolutely depends on their support. Thus, he must walk a fine line as the American Republicans once did before him, dog-whistling to the racists in the UKIP base while at the same time being forced to disavow the most flagrantly bigoted members of his party.

Note that I said the Republicans “once” did this. Now, there is no need, as the party has been ripped between the openly racist Trumpkins on one side, and traditionalists on the other. No longer content with dutifully voting for Bushes and Romneys every four years, the so-called alt.right in Trump’s base, as well as the more old-school white nationalists, decided to send up the GOP elite by nominating a man they know drives them nuts. In response, #NeverTrumpers say good riddance — they are genuinely appalled by the racism of these people, and of how Trump openly welcomes it. This is not some sort of act. Anti-Trump Republicans really are just as fundamentally opposed to racism as their Democratic counterparts.

Interestingly, this means the traditional assumption among young liberals that “all Republicans are racist” has to go out the window — there’s now a very clear divide between Trumpkins and #NeverTrumpers, and one side has all the racists. Similarly, a charge that “all Tories are racist” can be laughed off, with UKIP hoovering up all the bigots who formerly voted Conservative, and with the PM just as pro-Remain as Jeremy Corbyn.

Purging their parties wasn’t planned by Republicans or Tories; rather, it was a revolt by the racists themselves. Nevertheless, it worked. And the elites of both sides in both countries can now claim with complete accuracy that they stand united against bigotry (most establishment endorsements of Trump are pro-forma, gritted-teeth affairs a la Paul Ryan). That is a powerful argument, even for populist rabble like me.

I don’t know how I feel about Brexit, but I do know how I feel about Trump and the racism he foments, not to mention the alarming thought of the Comboverlord in possession of the nuclear codes. Which puts me in a bind, as I have ranted in these pages plenty of times about elites of both the Republicans and the Democrats, about the incompetence of both the Bush 43 and the Obama administrations, about how sorry the leaders of universities and hospitals look compared to those of a generation or two ago. I definitely enjoyed seeing Jeb Bush, the face of aristocratic privilege, crash and burn in the face of populist rage.

And yet, on the conservative side at least, the elites — Jeb Bush among them — are taking a principled stand against Trumpism. #NeverTrump leaders such as Bill Kristol, Mark Levin, Sen. Ben Sasse, Gov. John Kasich, former Breitbart troll Ben Shapiro, and an army of writers at Weekly Standard, Redstate, Federalist, National review including, famously, David French — nobody may ever blithely accuse this bunch of racism or arguing from bad faith again. They are willing to tank the Republican Party’s chance at the White House purely out of principle, and to keep an unstable racist demagogue out of the Oval Office. Not even the usual drumbeat about Supreme Court nominations can sway them. Believe me, this deeply rattled both my populist and my Democratic leanings so I don’t even know what to believe anymore (and remain committed as ever to vote third-party in November).

It’s unclear how permanent this split will be with the GOP. Conventional wisdom says Trumpkins will reunite with regular Republicans after Trump is defeated in November, but it really seems hard to believe they will just go along with Rubio or some other “cuckservative” in 2020, especially since they are already designing stabbed-in-the-back myths to explain Trump’s eventual defeat. If they form their own nationalist, socialist party after this election, that would be a good outcome for everyone involved.

While a few dead-enders will never stop accusing the Conservatives of being racist, this will remain an empty claim as long as UKIP exists and has significant support. If Trumpkins split and form their own party, this will be true as well for the GOP. Let’s hope.